This cartoon sums up where so many congregations begin the call process. How can we call pastor with tons of personality, who inspires us with great sermons and Bible studies, attracts lots of young families, and increase our numbers of people in the pews and dollars in the offering plate? Now find us a pastor who can do all of this without fundamentally changing anything about us. When churches enter this transitional phase in the life of the church, they do so with much fear, apprehension, and uncertainty. With all those emotions flowing through the congregation, it is no wonder they want to play it safe. They know things will be different from before, so the tendency is to find a Shepherd, who will lead them into this new reality but in a way that does not upset the apple cart too much. So how do we call a pastor that is right for what God will do in the congregation moving forward?
Take the time to do a detailed Self-study.
Jesus teaches us that preparation is essential in Luke 14:28 he says,“Just imagine that you want to build a tower. Wouldn’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to be sure you have enough to finish what you start?” When we are about to embark on a decision that affects how God’s mission is carried out among His people in that community, wouldn’t it make sense to consider prayerfully what God’s will for your community of believers is? A congregational self-study gives the congregation a chance to examine its ministry direction, programs, and access any problems needing to be addressed. It affords the leadership an opportunity to really ask the tough questions. Questions about may be why the former pastor accepted a call to serve somewhere else. There are many reasons why he did, financial, conflict with leadership, family needs, or a movement of the Holy Spirit to help a new group of believers. Whatever the reason now would a perfect time for the church wrestle with an intense time of prayer and reflection. Below are some questions to get the juices flowing:
- What makes this congregation different from all the other congregations in the community?
- What particular focus most energizes and animates our leadership?(Focuses on what the saints and leadership are passionate about)
- What are the unique needs and opportunities where God has placed us? (Focus on the Community)
- What are the unique resources and capabilities that God brings together in us? (Focus on the gifts God has placed in the congregation)
- What is our mission to God’s saints in this place and the community in which He has placed us?
- What challenges might be hindering our congregation’s ability to accomplish this mission?
Taking the time to discover clearly who you are and where God is leading, helps you determine the type of shepherd is needed to lead your congregation. In my experience working with over 40 congregations in the call process, when a church skips this step or shortchanges it, there is a tendency to lengthen the time of the vacancy. Because the call committee and the congregation wonder aimlessly into the pool of very talented pastoral candidates with no clear way to align the candidates with the congregational needs. Once the interview process or call goes out and the pastor asked the question: “So why did you feel I was the right pastor for this church?” The leaders and congregation have no clear answer to this issue, giving the candidates a sense that you are not sure what you are looking for, so how can you be sure God is calling him to serve? So take the time to hear clearly from God. May God bless you and may God bless His church.
Other posts in this series: