Pulpit Search Committee: Update on Initial Vision Process Could Come Within Next Six Months!

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Larry Nelson's picture

 

It sounds more like the reality of many pastoral search committees:

 

"Search committees are very slow. Search committees typically work in units of a week, sometimes even a longer period. Whereas a secular organization may be making daily decisions, search committees can make painfully slow progress every week. One pastor told me a search committee contacted him a second time to let him know he was their final candidate. Unfortunately, he had moved to another church 18 months earlier."

http://thomrainer.com/2015/06/five-frustrations-pastors-have-with-pastor-search-committees/

 

Larry Nelson's picture

 

"Pastor-Search Committees have a very hard job. In just a few months, they are charged with

  • going through the five stages of grief as the pastor leaves (even when it is a contentious departure, people still grieve a loss)
  • determine what is the current culture of the church
  • decide what are some of the future paths the church can take
  • solicit names of potential leaders and research those prospective pastors
  • work with other church leaders such as the personnel and finance teams to ensure there are sufficient funds and a fit with the existing staff
  • promote the final candidate to the church and to the current staff
  • coordinate the vote and install the new pastor

At this point, most pastor-search committees are exhausted. This has taken about 18-24 months of monthly or even bi-weekly meetings. The members have given up family time, their jobs may have suffered, and certainly there have been jabs and barbs from church members second-guessing the decisions of the committee. Many, if not most, committee members want nothing more than to be done with the pastor-search committee."

http://www.financeforchurches.org/when-should-a-pastor-search-team-disband/

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Many years ago, I was a deacon at a church where the Pastor left. We called a new Pastor within 12 weeks, and during that time we had five men come to preach and candidate. I'm not sure why this should take as long as it commonly does. One church I know has been searching for a year. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Donn R Arms's picture

I have recently become involved in a church revitalization project at a 215 year old Southern Baptist church walking distance from our home. The former Pastor resigned in December 2014 and, upon the advice of some Convention apparatchik, the church took a full year before forming a pulpit committee!

Donn R Arms

Jeff Howell's picture

can contribute to a longer or shorter duration of time in between pastors and the calling of new ones. As mentioned above, how the previous pastorate ended can and usually does impact a committee's work going forward. Also, as I have observed, a long-term pastorate of 30-40 years can sometimes impact as well. The church is simply not in practice for finding and then calling a new pastor (especially single pastor churches). Desire for a change of philosophy or direction, changing economic situations, unresolved conflict can all lengthen the time a church will spend searching for their next under-shepherd. One final comment ... often there is no talk of succession or transition plans, and that can slow the process down immensely. Just some thoughts ... 

Jeff

Bert Perry's picture

Larry's point is well taken; a lot of churches do need to go through stages of grief because of the outsized role taken by the pastor, and the like.  It might be noted that one solution for this is to hire pastors that realize their time with a church is limited, and who therefore take active steps to make sure other men are involved in making decisions.  The phrase from the 1960s was something like "train your replacement", and a lot of men used that to show their employers they were ready for the next level.  

Or, put differently, if you leaving will leave a monstrous hole in your organization, you're doing your job wrong.  This is a key point with things like ISO certification as well--you've got to have procedures so people don't need to run to the CEO every time a decision is made.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry Nelson's picture

 

Bert Perry wrote:

Larry's point is well taken; a lot of churches do need to go through stages of grief because of the outsized role taken by the pastor, and the like.  

 

It wasn't my  point, per se, although I don't disagree with it.

TylerR's picture

Editor

In our case, the deacons formed the search committee and we were exceptionally well-organized and led by fellow deacon who had been through this process before. This was probably why we accomplished the task as efficiently and quickly as we did. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

At the risk of sounding rude, a local church doesn't need to grieve before beginning a search for a new Pastor. They simply need to find a new Pastor. There is no need for grief. If he died, then he's in glory. If he left, he isn't coming back. Find a new Pastor or go to church somewhere else. Is that too harsh?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Larry Nelson's picture

 

TylerR wrote:

At the risk of sounding rude, a local church doesn't need to grieve before beginning a search for a new Pastor. They simply need to find a new Pastor. There is no need for grief. If he died, then he's in glory. If he left, he isn't coming back. Find a new Pastor or go to church somewhere else. Is that too harsh?

 

...but I can relate to the emotion implied.

When our church's former pastor (of over 20 years) announced his retirement in 2013, it caught me off guard (even though he was around 65, and retirement wasn't inconceivable).  His preaching is what initially drew me to the church in 2000.     

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

It's hard for me to understand, though I get where you're coming from. Because I spent most of my Christian life in the military, I never spent more than four years at any particular church. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Even if you are not dragging your feet, this can take a little while, depending on circumstances.

I was on a search committee that was formed after our pastor resigned.  Grief wasn't exactly the right word, but we were definitely taken off guard.  Further, we were not a large church, and no one there had been on a search committee before, so this was a new experience for all of us.

We had about a month to prepare between the time of the resignation and when it took effect, so to take care of the immediate shepherding needs, we hired an interim pastor after looking around and seeking council.  Not only was he helpful for filling in, we definitely used his help and advice while searching for the new full-time pastor.  We didn't have him by the effective date, but it was not that long afterwards.

From the date of resignation until the new pastor accepted our offer, it was about 8 months.  With all that we went through to discuss mission, where our church should be headed, what type of man we wanted as a replacement, creating a questionnaire, seeking out candidates that we were interested in but who also were interested in us, evaluating the "finalists" (including listening to sermons from each of them, discussion of their questionnaire answers and having a phone interview) and then finally having our first choice make a candidating trip and making him an offer, I can't really imagine it going any more quickly.  Of course, we were not interested in drawing this out, but we also wanted no undue haste.

That same man has now been our pastor almost 5 years, and it has now become quite easy to see God's leading in all the steps and time we took.  It's great that some have been able to accomplish this in 12 weeks, but I would bet that that is not the norm, especially when no one who has done this before is available for the search committee.

Dave Barnhart

T Howard's picture

Our church just recently called a new senior pastor. It took the pulpit search committee approximately 11 months. In our case, there was a definite grieving process because our former senior pastor of 10 years was forced to step down because of moral failure. Our search committee and elders worked through and used Chris Braun's book, When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search: Biblical Principles and Practices to Guide Your Search. The search committee decided to pursue 2 men before landing on a third. The first candidate committed to another church during our vetting process. The second candidate withdrew from the process after much discussion with his wife. Each of those setbacks was emotionally draining to our committee.

We hired an interim preacher (a former senior pastor who was also attending our church) during the 11 months, and I assisted with the preaching as well. Overall, our church has grown stronger and healthier through this process.

Larry Nelson's picture

 

In early 2013 our Senior Pastor (of over 20 years) announced his pending retirement. (He remained our Senior Pastor until his successor arrived.)

A search committee was appointed.  Selection criteria decided upon.  Nominations & applications accepted.  Much prayer.

Out of about 140 initial applicants, we narrowed it down to a field of 13 who received a very detailed follow-up questionnaire.  These resulted in 4 extensive telephone interviews.  The next round became 3 face-to-face interviews.  From these, our committee loaded into one of our 15 passenger vans & headed off on a 900 mile round-trip to drop-in on their unanimous-choice candidate on a Sunday at his then-current church (a church of about 700).

Soon he came as a candidate to preach at our services one weekend, and for two Q & A sessions at which he was thoroughly grilled  by our members (his ordination council had probably been easier)!  The eventual vote was >99% in his favor.

From start to finish, the search took about 9 months.  In the process, it became clearly evident to the church that this pastor was God's choice for us, and we were simply affirming His will.

 

DLCreed's picture

I work as a church consultant on the side.  I was recently approached by a search committee that had been looking for a new lead pastor for the last 28 months. (They'd had two unusual situations where a call to serve did not work out during that time.)  They were exhausted and over their head.  They hired me to lead the search process.  It took me seven weeks to locate candidates for review for them and they should be calling their new pastor within the next 3 weeks.  The cost to them will be less than if they were paying a lead pastor during that time.  Sometimes, you just need a professional to do the bureaucratic process and then let them make the final decision.

Ron Bean's picture

Then there was the large Baptist church in our area where the senior pastor announced his retirement a year in advance to give the church opportunity to pursue candidates. His retirement date happened to coincide with his son's graduation from seminary. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan