I’m a pastor. As such, my experience with pastoral search teams has been very one-sided. Specifically, I’ve always been on the other side of the table. In fact, pastoral search teams may have one of the most important responsibilities in the life of the church while almost universally never have any input or leadership from a pastor!
In his new book, When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search, Chris Brauns seeks to provide some pastoral leadership to that area of church-life by offering his wisdom and guidance. And perhaps, as a result of his unique position as a pastor speaking to pastoral search teams, some of his wisdom seems completely counter to what other “similar” resources by non-pastors.
The author strongly pushes any pastoral search team to be Word-centered. “A Word-centered pastoral search committee will evaluate candidates against Biblical qualifications. For these groups, the qualificiations outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 will be a constant.”
And while “some resources for pastoral search committees downplay the importance of preaching. They say something like, “The new pastor will be doing a lot more than preaching, so we can’t place all the attention on the candidate’s preaching.” Yet just the opposite is true – the candidate’s preaching philosophy and capabilities ought to be paramount in your evaluation of his fitness to shepherd your church.”
In fact, Brauns believes this so strongly that he spends a good portion of the book providing a solid basis for which to judge a candidate’s preaching. As one “who labors at preaching and teaching,” I found this portion of the book to be a great resource and reminder.
In the last part of the book, he offers both an incredibly useful resource (an extensive list of suggested interview questions) as well as one of the most pastoral encouragements I’ve ever read in regards to pastoral searches.
A pastoral search is a marathon of unknown length. While long-distance runners know how far it is until they cross the finish line, church leaders don’t know how many more laps they must run before a pastor is called. The unknown length of the pastoral search process, along with the normal challenges of life, often tempt pastoral search committees to be less than thorough during the interview process. But the stakes are too high to rush.
I recommend this book for every pastoral search team.
In fact, in reading it, I have chosen that, as a final act of shepherding any flock that God calls me to, I will leave a copy of this book to the pastoral search team responsible for calling their next pastor.