Pastor search committees’ best opportunities for effective ministry take place after the candidate is selected. Unfortunately, most search committees cease to function too abruptly.
As I have noted in previous posts on this topic, not all churches use a pastor search committee to call a pastor. Still, I hope some of these suggestions could be applied in any context. Also, keep in mind that these same issues apply to ministry positions beyond the pastor. Let’s look at seven things a search committee should do after the pastor is selected.
- Make certain other candidates are notified. I hear too many negative stories about prospective pastors who were never notified that they were not the final choice. Such behavior is unprofessional and not Christ-like.
- Remind search committee members about the need for confidentiality. While the church should have all the relevant information about the prospective pastor, there is some information that must remain confidential. For example, one member of a search committee told her small group the details of the new pastor’s credit report.
- Never discuss the names of other candidates. Here is an unfortunate but true story. A member of a search committee had a relative at the church where the runner-up pastoral candidate served. He told the relative that her pastor wanted the job but didn’t get it. The aftermath for the pastor was not pretty.
- Have a clear communication plan for all the members of the search committee. Each member of the search committee will have individual conversations with church members and others. Many committees do not have a plan for these inevitable one-on-one conversations. Make certain all committee members are saying the same thing consistently.
- Have a member put the entire process in writing. Without divulging confidential information, have a member provide a written report of what the committee did; what went well; what went wrong; and what they would do differently. Such information is invaluable for future committees at your church and at other churches.
- Consider becoming a short-term liaison group for the pastor. The search committee can be a great transition team for the pastor for the first six to twelve months.
- Help the family transition to the church and the community. When a church calls a pastor, the church calls a family. Think of the many ways the committee can help the pastor’s family during the transition. Consider not only helping with the obvious matters (such as recommending a realtor), but with the not-so-obvious matters. One search committee got a complete grocery list from the pastor’s family and did the first month’s shopping for them.
Search committees should indeed do more than just search for a pastor. What do you think of these seven suggestions? What would you add?¸