Search Process Outline

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Do you wonder what is involved in a Senior Minister search process? This step-by-step outline should give you a good idea of what is involved … and why you might need help to do it right.

Phase 1: Inquiry

  1. Selection of a Search Committee Chairman
  2. Selection of a Search Committee—criteria, covenant, charge
  3. Description of Church (vision, demographics, ministries, calling)
  4. Identification of are as within the church system (mission and vision, leadership and management, polity model, worship habits, theological sensibilities, unity/conflict) that need attention and work to create a healthy church environment
  5. Description of Community (needs, opportunities, demographics)
  6. Description of Ideal Candidate (job description, necessary skills and experience)
  7. Teaching (for elders and committee … and for the congregation) of a “Theology of Calling” that identifies the basis on which the Search Process is conducted

Phase 2: Identification

  1. Identifying “Recommenders” for high-quality/high-potential candidates (understand intimately the role of Senior Minister, well-positioned/well-connected (networked),  theologically compatible, and connected to the congregation in some way
  2. Based on Recommender suggestions: develop list of “Candidates of Interest”—high-quality, high-potential, pre-vetted candidates
  3. Develop “candidate packages”—materials on “ideal candidate,” the vision and mission of the church, a description of the church (history, demographics, etc.), and a description of the community
  4. Prioritize candidate list and create “waves” of candidates … manageable subgroupings … asequential process (rather than consecutive)
  5. Initial work with candidates as “hosts” and “triads” through several “waves”—prayer, résumé review, listening to sermons, reading blogs/writings, dialogue (phone and Skype), sharing “candidate packages,” sensitively contacting some references
  6. Narrow down candidate list to those candidates recommended for consideration by the Committee as a whole

Phase 3: Interview

  1. Committee works with top candidates—prayer, résumé review, listening to sermons, reading blogs/writings, dialogue (phone and Skype)
  2. Committee develops consensus on candidate(s) who represents the best fit for the congregation’s needs and seems most “called” by God to serve the congregation
  3. Intensive background and reference checks (including recent/present elders candidate has worked with)
  4. Bring in top candidate(s) for direct dialogue with the Committee-as-a-whole
  5. Come to consensus as a Committee re: the candidate to be recommended to the elders … make formal recommendation to the elders
  6. Elders work with recommended candidate—prayer, résumé review, listening to sermons, reading blogs/writings, dialogue (phone and Skype)
  7. Elders do intensive check with references of recommended candidate (including recent/present elders candidate has worked with)
  8. Elders bring in recommended candidate for direct dialogue and decide whether or not to recommend candidate to the congregation
  9. Work out “agreement in principle” on contract

Phase 4: Invitation

  1. Arrange for formal weekend visit of candidate to congregation
  2. Introduce candidate to the congregation (photo, bio, etc.) and communicate about the upcoming weekend to “meet and greet” candiate
  3. Invite congregation into a season of “communal discernment”—prayer and questions
  4. Invite congregation to get to know candidate—prayer, résumé review, listening to sermons, reading blogs/writings
  5. Plan time for the committee and elders to explain to the congregation the process and conclusions that led them to recommend this particular candidate
  6. Plan for the candidate to interact with the congregation in small groups (receptions, demographic groupings, ministries, staff, etc.) during the weekend visit
  7. The candidate teaches a class and preaches sermon on Sunday morning
  8. A period of 1-2 weeks is given to the congregation for communication of their approval or concerns about the candidate
  9. Formal invitation and contract is extended to candidate and a date is set for his arrival and commencement of duties
  10. 100  Day Plan is developed
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