A month ago, in late September, the pastoral search committee I’m part of were very excited – we had been through an intensive six months of groundwork, interviews and prayer to get to the point where we had a person to bring to our church congregation – the person we believed God was calling to be our new senior pastor.
Then we received the news that he had decided to withdraw his name from the call – we were shell-shocked – up until that point it had been such a smooth process. The reasons why he no longer wanted to proceed were entirely understandable and commendable, but it was still disappointing for us as a committee to have to farewell the person we thought would be have been leading the church from early next year.
Over the past month we and the church leadership have been reflecting on a number of matters stemming from this event, culminating in a report back to the church members early next week on the process so far and where to next.
We’re going to be taking a bit of a hiatus as a committee, looking to reform again in the New Year – we’re still very aware of God’s guidance and the fact that he has great plans for our church in the future. But as always, God’s plans and timing aren’t always as we expect them to be.
Back in September I was starting to form the ideas for a ‘lessons learned from being on a pastoral search committee’ blog post – naturally this will have to go on the backburner for a while until the process has successfully finished – however in the interim I wanted to share a little bit of advice I received earlier this year.
I’m a firm believer in seeking the advice of others who have gone before you, and in this instance I sought out the advice of one of the pastors whose blog and sermons I follow, Nate Pyle (Lead Pastor at Christ’s Community Church in Fishers, Indiana).
Nate gave this advice:
“Often, in the anxiety of wanting to find a pastor, churches put their best foot forward. Just as the pastor, a candidate for a ‘job,’ is putting their best self forward. To me, the process often felt like dating. The key is to get beyond that as fast as possible. A church must, as best it can, authentically represent itself. So, if the pastor asks if the church is willing to change, the church should be as honest as possible in the minute lest both church and pastor get into a relationship that is founded upon false expectations.”
As a committee we really appreciated this advice, particularly the analogy of the process being similar to dating. We used this analogy during the interview process to communicate to candidates how we intended to approach the interview.
Incidentally, I saw on Twitter the other day that Nate also had some other good advice: