The Search for a Pulpit Minister: The Right Process is Key

How can a church in transition find, attract, and hire an outstanding pulpit minister? Interim Ministry Partners has developed a detailed process designed to bring a great church together with a great minister.

Many churches adopt search processes from the business world in their search for ministry staff. They run ads, review resumes, check references, and then invite the top several candidates to spend a weekend with them and preach on Sunday. This process has numerous drawbacks:

  • It usually begins with questions about the ideal candidate (Who are we looking for?) rather than with questions about the church itself (Who are we?) and God’s call upon it (Where is God leading us?)
  • It often results in a glut of resumes from candidates who should not be considered, while failing to identify some of the most promising available candidates.
  • Precious time is wasted communicating with multiple candidates who are unlikely to be what the church needs.
  • The decision often comes down to a popularity contest, based on the congregation’s reaction to each candidate’s trial sermon. This can leave a congregation polarized and saddle the incoming minister with several factions in the church who were disappointed by his being selected over their favorite.
  • Because the process of scheduling and hearing the trial sermons can stretch over weeks or months, earlier candidates have a significantly lower chance of being hired. Either the congregation forgets the first candidates or a candidate has already found a position by the time the church gets back with them.

The results of these drawbacks is frustration, inefficiencies, and “false starts” in the search process.

The Interim Ministry Partners process assumes that God has already identified and called the person he wants to lead your church into the future. The focus of our process is to help church leaders discover and discern God’s call.

  • This process begins, first, by looking at the church rather than the candidates. Who are we? Where are we heading? What is God doing among us right now?
  • This process helps search committees narrow their focus, so that only the candidates most likely to fill the church’s needs show up on their “radar.” The interim minister helps the search committee develop a pool of viable candidates, so their full energy can be devoted to evaluating quality individuals, not weeding out unsuitable ones.
  • The process results in a single candidate, whose likelihood of fulfilling congregational needs is high, who can be recommended to the elders and affirmed by the congregation.

Churches that have followed the Interim Ministry Partners process rigorously are able to welcome a new pulpit minister with great joy and enthusiasm, and with a unified sense that God has spoken. Ministers hired as a result of this process enter their new ministry with enthusiasm, confident that their gifts are a great match for the needs of the church.