I believe many preachers are mistreated when it comes to the pulpit search traditions that we have in America. So, here are three things that I believe every church/eldership ought to have set in stone before they ever start the search process.
1. What Kind of Man You’re Looking For
Let’s face it, all preachers aren’t the same. I feel like I’m an able public speaker and involvement motivator. However, I am lacking when it comes to individual ministry and personal Bible studies with non-Christians. Another man may have those areas down but his speaking is lacking. Another capable preacher might have none of these characteristics but he is a great minister on an individual level.
You need, as a church, to have established what the church in your area needs in their next minister. Every preacher has seen churches where the last preacher was drastically different than the next but they complimented each other so much that the church essentially exploded afterwards. This is because they knew what kind of preacher that church needed in that instance and capitalized on that!
2. When You’d Like to Have Your New Man In Place
There is no Scripture, that I can find, that supports the very common “Preacher Dog & Pony Show” that we see in so many churches today. A church might come to need a new preacher and decide that since it is the beginning of the summer, they will kill two birds with one stone and have a Summer Series along with their preacher search. So, they take applications/resumes for a few months and then starts the gauntlet. “For the next 7 weeks, we will have different men come in and try-out for the work here.”
Folks, this isn’t helpful to the preachers OR the church. Because, by the end you will be so lost in your search that you won’t know where to turn. Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the menu is 15 pages with every imaginable food choice? How easy was it to decide?
Here’s a better suggestion… Pick a man to try out, have him come and do the interview process and then decide whether or not he is your next preacher. If he isn’t, rinse and repeat! (On a side note, TELL THE MAN WHEN YOU REALIZE HE’S NOT THE MAN FOR YOU! You are doing a disservice to a minister, and thereby God Himself, by stringing him along for a month without any answers.)
3. How Much You’re Able to Pay
I believe money needs to be one of the last things you speak with the potential preacher about. However, before he ever submits his resume/application, you need to know how much you are able to pay. Mainly, because it will stop you from wasting time on men who’s financial needs far exceed what the congregation is going to be able to support. Second, it will help him because chances are he is extremely uneasy and worried about what is going to happen to his family financially. If he has some idea how much church A is going to be able to support him, it will give him somewhere to work from.
No matter what, remember that you are both Christians. So, treat that preacher like a Christian and the way you would want to be treated. You’re not hiring a hireling! You’re hiring a man that is going to work his fingers to the bone and go to bat for that congregation! – Treat him like you know that!