July 16, 2012

Candidating: Is There a Right Way? Part III

The wife of an applicant or pastoral candidate can help him communicate clearly to a search committee in his applications, interviews and meetings. The spiritual dimension is the most important aspect of the search. Pastor and congregation compatibility has a part to play, as well.

Because the search committee is chosen to represent the local church, its perspective is worthy of consideration. Here is some of what I learned about the search committee perspective (SCP) by being on one.

Be selective. There are many people who need a job... any job. They use the shotgun approach of sending out dozens of applications. 
SCP: We want a man who is interested in loving and serving our particular church (See John 10:11-13). So, if we are a church of 100 people in a rural area of North Dakota seeking an associate pastor, we won't give much time to an applicant who has a number one priority to be a senior pastor in a large eastern city. He wouldn't be happy here.

Follow directions. Pastors are busy people. While candidating, they breathe a sigh of relief when they get that application in the send box.
SCP: We are impressed when we receive a complete packet of all the materials we require, including a cover letter, forms and references, before the deadline. It is easier for us to compare applicants fairly that way. Plus, men who take the time to send us what we ask for may be more responsible in their ministry to us.

Be honest. When he doesn't have the required level of experience, the applicant may be tempted to change questions on the pre-printed form.
SCP: Because we have the questions memorized, we read only the answers. The applicant should answer "no" to "Are you ordained?" if he is not ordained. He shouldn't substitute another question like "Are you licensed to preach?" in order to say "yes." 

Use caution with humor. Our best friends laugh at all our jokes. However, humor can be a subjective thing.
SCP: We want to get to know this man better and laugh with him. But right now, we don't know if the candidate's off-hand comment was meant to be serious, sarcastic, clever or funny.

Anticipate assumptions. When you experience a painful situation, it is hard to talk about it.
SCP: We are reasonable people; we know that everyone has scars. We prefer to hear about it from the pastoral candidate, up front. Otherwise, we fill in the blanks with our imagination. For example, when one of his references makes a vague comment about that "messy business in the Anchorage church," the search committee might speculate on its meaning.

Do your homework. The Internet makes finding out about a church's ministries and style of worship easier than ever. In addition, we are happy to send a church profile.
SCP: 1) We want this to be a good match. If our church worships with electric guitars and drums, and the applicant prefers exclusive psalmody, we might not be comfortable with each other. 2) We want this man to be interested in us. If he asks specific, meaningful questions about the life of the church, he will be endeared to us.

Say what you believe with conviction. In our culture, some people tell prospective employers what they want to hear to get the job or to avoid being considered intolerant.
SCP: Our church will ask the new pastor to preach the truth of God's word and do other hard things. We are sinners, and he will have to point that out occasionally.  Sometimes, we will not like to hear it. But, we know that God wants our pastor to speak the truth even if it is unpopular. (See I Timothy 4:11-13)

For different aspects of candidating, see other posts in the series: Am I Mrs. Right? and Is This the Right Church?.

1 comment:

  1. As with so many things, it's hard not to let a worldly way of "doing business" creep in. Thanks for a godly perspective!


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