When he comes, he meets with the Call Committee, the leadership team, and maybe others in the church. On Sunday, he usually preaches the morning sermon and meets other leaders and/or people in the afternoon. Most of the church members are not aware that the prospective pastor will probably preach an old and familiar sermon that has proven to be a “great one.” So he dusts it off, reviews it, and practices it over and over again. He does his best. The interviews usually go well because everyone is on their best behavior. Somewhere along the way, other leaders and seminary professors are contacted to obtain their opinions about the man. The references are usually positive because the potential pastor supplied names of friends and others who think highly of him. Even those who have concerns about the man might think that a different environment, or a different setting may be the very thing the man needs in order to grow. Rarely does anyone want to give a negative evaluation of an individual looking for a job. Eventually, the church might ask him to be their pastor if he outperforms the other candidates. The process can potentially become a competition, rather than a search for the Lord’s will in the life of the pastor and the church.
The Result. After the new man has been serving as pastor for six months to maybe two years, the church leadership, the Call Committee, and church members may begin to realize that the pastor is not what they expected. They discover that the man has weaknesses that they never anticipated. The weaknesses usually surface in meetings at the leadership level. The church may discover that his preaching is different than the sermon he gave when he was candidating for the position. Sometimes they discover that the pastor’s doctrine is different. A number of years ago one church discovered that their new pastor believed differently than they did. They were Arminian in theology and he was Reformed. They were surprised. What he believed was different than what the last pastor believed. These situations are very common. Another church discovered that their new assistant pastor was into homosexual pornography. In another church, it came to light that the pastor did not want to minister to the “old people.” Another church discovered that the pastor did not want to teach the Bible verse-by-verse. He liked only topical studies. Some churches discover that their pastor is a dictator and wants to control everything. Churches can make a great mistake when they violate biblical principles in the selection of their pastors. It is easy to violate the following verse,
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin. (NASB) 1 Timothy 5:22
Many church leaders and Call Committees fail at the very beginning of the search process - the first meeting. The failure occurs when they first decide what type of pastor they want. The greatest and most common mistake is that they ignore the guidelines that God has given in the scriptures. When we ignore the Word of God, we are “throwing lots” or dice. What a church gets is the “luck of the dice.”
Some Guidance. But God has given church leadership teams some guidelines which will help them avoid some drastic errors. The guidance is found in the spiritual character of the prospective pastor, his ministry qualifications, and his heart. The procedures and processes are secondary.
Marks of Maturity.
God has outlined the marks of spiritual maturity that a church should look for in a pastor in 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and Titus 1:5-9. We would encourage you to read an article that discusses these marks of maturity about an elder. Since a pastor is one of the elders, the article explains what church leaders and Call Committees should be looking for in a future pastor. The article is called “Recovering the Pattern of Biblical Leadership.
” You might also be interested in two presentations titled, “God’s Design For The Church
” and “Marks of Spiritual Maturity.
” We shall look here at only four of the marks of spiritual maturity.