When I started my first pastorate 40+ years ago, I had no idea what kinds of information I wanted from the church – so I didn’t request much. I realize it’s difficult to secure all the information I list below, but here are some things I’d want to know if I were considering a new pastorate:
- Who are the real leaders in the church? And, I’m not assuming they necessarily have titles or leadership positions. I want to know who the influencers are.
- What do you see my primary responsibility is as the pastor? If we differ on that role, we will likely have conflict.
- If I challenged your kids and grandkids to the nations in Jesus’ name, would you be supportive? I want to know how committed you are to the global mission.
- How would you respond if people who look different than you and/or whose mother language is different than yours begin to attend the church? Here, I’m asking about underlying, though often unspoken, prejudice.
- What do you expect of my spouse? Pam and I come as a team, but I want her to serve in her giftedness and her passions—not simply in positions the church expects her to hold.
- What underlying issues are there in the church that even the pastor search team might not have recognized? Sometimes even the leaders don’t know about undercurrents of conflict.
- When you differ with me, what will be your approach to addressing the issue? And, I don’t want to know the proper answer; I want to know how your church has historically handled these kinds of situations.
- How many pastors have left the church under negative circumstances (either personal or congregational) in the past 20 years? If the church has a history of short-term, conflict-filled pastorates, the problem is probably more with the congregation than with the pastors.
- How much do you pray regularly for the pastoral staff? Again, I want to hear the actual situation more than an aspirational one. I want to know the church has made and keeps a commitment to intercede for leaders.
- How much pushback would I get if I call all members to walk faithfully with God, serve in some capacity through the church, and accept church discipline if their faulty choices necessitate it? It’s the latter statement on church discipline that probably evokes the strongest responses, but I’d want to know where the church stands on these issues.
I’m sure this list is not exhaustive. What would you add?