‘I have an interview … Now what?’
Five questions to ask a search committee
So, you feel strongly that God has called you to be a replanter. You sent out resumes, and a church has contacted you. Now you have an upcoming interview. Maybe at this point you start to panic, wondering, “What on earth do I ask these people?”
This is a big step. The search committee will have a lot of questions for you (as they should). Calling a pastor is a big decision.
But potentially uprooting your family and going to a church that may be on the verge of death is a big decision too. You need to ask the search committee some hard questions about the church.
Here are five questions we recommend asking a search committee. You may think of some others as well.
1. How are decisions made in the church? To whom do church members look when a big decision needs to be made?
Leading a church replant or revitalization will require changes to be made. What changes need to take place and when to make those changes are discussions for another day. But you need to understand the decision-making process. Are there committees to go through? Does the church body have to vote on every decision? Will the church look to one or two people to decide what to do and then rubber-stamp their decisions? These are important things to know.
2. Have there been any church splits or periods of rapid decline in the past five to 10 years? If so, what happened?
While there may not be many people left from these periods, these memories will likely be fresh in the remaining church members’ minds. It’s good to get their perspective on what happened.
3. Describe a typical Sunday morning worship gathering. What songs are usually sung? How long is the sermon? What does the pastor typically wear? Is there a preferred translation of the Bible among the congregation?
This will help you understand something about the culture of the church. If folks are used to a 20-minute sermon and you preach 40 minutes, that’s important to know. If the folks are used to a pastor preaching in full suit and tie, you shouldn’t show up on your first Sunday in jeans and a polo. That’s not to say that you can’t work to change the culture, but you want to make sure you get off on the right foot with the folks who are there! You also don’t want to show up with an ESV when everyone else uses the KJV!
4. What is expected of the pastor and his family? How involved do you expect a pastor’s wife to be in the ministry of the church?
While no church should expect to get a two-for-one deal with a pastor and his wife, there may be subtle expectations that she will teach a women’s or kids’ Sunday school class. People may just assume the pastor’s wife plays piano and sings (I can testify!). These are good things to know up front. It’s also important for you to inform the search committee that your family is not perfect and your kids may, in fact, act like kids. Yes, that means they may even run in the sanctuary from time to time, even though you’ve told them over and over and over again to stop. And the church needs to know that you expect them to be OK with a pastor’s family that doesn’t necessarily have it all together all the time.
5. What else do I need to know?
It’s impossible to know everything about a church before you are actually among the people each and every day. And even then, you’ll still encounter things that surprise you! But, if we’re honest, I think we’d all say the same thing about marriage. I’m still learning things about my wife after 15 years of marriage. But this question gives the church the chance to share something you haven’t asked about. Maybe it’s a negative thing like a roof that’s about to cave in or an electrical issue that could cause an imminent fire. But it might be a blessing like a marriage that’s recently been restored or a wayward child of God who’s recently been restored to fellowship with Christ and the church.
The decision to move your family to begin pastoring a new church is not to be taken lightly. These five questions won’t cover everything you need to ask, but they are a good starting point. For more questions and some other resources, check out this document.
What questions are we missing? Do you have an unusual interview experience you’d like to share? Share them with us on our social media streams.