12 Questions I Might Ask a Pastor Search Team

I’ve previously written these posts about pastor search teams:6 Reasons Pastor Search Teams Don’t Always Work” and “14 Mistakes Search Committees Make.” Today, I want to answer a question many students have asked me: “What questions would you ask a pastor search team if you were their candidate?” I have many other questions beyond these, but here are some I’d ask:

  1. What is your church’s doctrinal statement – and how much attention has your congregation given to understanding and affirming it?” A search team that can’t answer the question wouldn’t immediately alarm me—because many churches neglect these issues—but it would tell me that I’ll have some work to do.
  2. “What person is the most powerful member in the church? What group or committee is the most powerful?” That is, I’d want to know who has the most influence in the church, whether it’s official or unofficial authority. 
  3. “When’s the last time your congregation did church discipline—and would you do it again?”  Most churches haven’t done much discipline—and I wouldn’t want to quickly prioritize disciplining members—but the Bible does recognize the necessity of discipline at times.
  4. “How much freedom would I have to hire and fire staff members?” I’m not arguing I would necessarily want full authority, but I wouldn’t want a committee to have authority to trump my prayerful wishes.
  5. Would you please connect me with your last 2-3 pastors (assuming they’re all available) for a conversation?” If the search team tells me “no,” red flags go up.
  6. “What’s the financial condition of the church?” I’d want to know what real issues they’re facing, and I’d also want to know what percentage of their budget goes to ministry and missions.
  7. “Does the church have business meetings—and if so, what things must they vote on?” My first church voted on everything. That process created distrust and bogged down our ministry efforts.
  8. “Why are you interested in my becoming your pastor?” To be honest, I think that first church called me primarily because I was young and inexpensive.
  9. “Would you hire all your current staff again?” I would not ask for details and names, but it would be helpful to know if the church is already concerned about any staff member.
  10. “What will be the most difficult thing a new pastor will have to address in this church?” The search team may not agree on the answer, but you’ll learn a lot by their responses.
  11. “What have you not told me that you should tell me if you were completely honest?” Many search teams will have an answer, but nobody pushes them in that direction.
  12. “In your opinion, is your church a church that makes hell shake?” This question’s a personal one for me, built around the story of the sons of Sceva in Acts 19. I would want to lead a church so committed to walking with God that hell knows them by name.

I know there are many other questions to ask. What other questions would you definitely want to ask? 

2 Comments

  • Mark Snowden says:

    I’d want to know these:
    1. How is your church reproducing? church planting engagement, people group adoption, evangelism
    2. When was the last time this church started a new church? What church are you planting now?
    3. What people group overseas has this church adopted? How do you mobilize your members for missions?
    4. How are you making disciple-makers?
    5. How is your church involved with your Baptist association and Baptist state convention?

  • Chris Gordon says:

    Has this church ever let a staff member go? If so, what were the circumstances that led to the dismissal & how is that handled? ie vote, personnel, deacons, elders etc.

    What are some service traditions this church has that need to stay? ie music, offering time, welcome, Mothers Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Christmas Eve, Father’s Day, Memorial Day etc.

    Who will provide oversight for me? The rest of the staff(if they have any)?

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