Church search committees often find pastors that are hirelings and job shoppers

by Don Koenig

Now that I am sure I have some church leaders feathers ruffled do you want to know what I think about running churches by committee? If you wish to get nothing done fast, start a committee for each function in your church. Do you need something done ASAP? Start a committee - you may or may not have it done by next year! I am not against all committees, but most churches have already elected a committee of spiritual leaders that should be making most of the decisions for their body. In most churches, these are your elders, deacons and trusties.

Traditionally, what happens when a Baptist church needs to find a pastor is instead of relying on these elected or ordained to guide the church, they select
a new search committee picked because they are members of the latest popularity club. The committee will normally take nearly two years to find what they believe is the most qualified applicant while your church takes a four year trek into the desert (there are some exceptions). The committee will certainly find the best applicant your church can afford, but after searching for two years it will take the chosen pastor two more years to get the congregation back to where it was before this all started, that is, if the church does not split first.

I understand that in Southern Baptist churches the head pastor stays less then four years on average. Therefore, it should be apparent that there is a real problem here. Why are there two or more Baptist churches of the same denomination in most small towns? We do not need to form a committee to find out the answer. A committee most likely started the church split years ago.

It is my opinion that if a church earnestly prayed and asked God for a replacement to be led to their church there is absolutely no reason why this prayer would not be answered swiftly by God and made known to the elected and/or ordained leaders. I made this concept known in a letter to the elected search committee of a former church when they were taking months to even get started looking for a pastor. Some on the elected search committee took it as an affront to their God given appointment to find a new pastor. Or was it a church given appointment? After six months the committee unanimously suggested to the church a strange two year interim program under a denominationally assigned interim pastor that would teach them how to be a nice church. At least one deacon and most of the church members did not agree with the search committee's proposal and it was voted down. After over a year of searching the search committee recommended a candidate and he was voted in as pastor. The selected pastor was out of sync with the beliefs of the church and the church fired him after about a month. It is not surprising to me that the committee suggested someone with beliefs out of sync with the church. Some on the search committee did not even know enough basic theological terms to ask questions. The last I heard they elected a new search committee and started the process all over again. After almost two years they still did not have a permanent pastor. Yet, they still think it was God's will that they go through all this turmoil.

The long process of going through huge stacks of resumes by a search committee may find the best man that your committee can find or that your church can afford but it will not necessarily be the best choice to oversee your church. Search committees are certainly man's best effort to find a replacement for your church, but God is really looking for people of faith who will believe if they earnestly ask for a fish they will not receive a rock. Contrary to most thinking, it is not necessary for this selection process to take a lot of time.
There is no such thing as one uniquely anointed choice person to lead your church any more than there is "one uniquely" anointed man to take the gospel to the lost world. We are to pray for and support those we elect to positions of authority over our church. If we elected insiders to the position of pastor, rather than bring in unknown and often inexperienced and untested outsiders, we would have far less problems. If these things were done faithfully, and the man the church choose is in the will of God, the man chosen will turn out to be the best choice for your church.

Pastors jumping ship every three to five years is not biblical - God hates divorce.

Many pastors have now just become hirelings and job shoppers. Pastors should work out their problems with the local body and should not jump ship for material or prestige advantage. God hates divorce! Show me from the scriptures where spiritual elders of a local body are to leave for another local body at their own convenience? This moving about only is seen in the Bible with those with the gift of evangelism. Local pastors and elders are not to leave their flock without darn good reason. This is mainly a western church practice and it should not be taking place. It is very destructive; if you want a larger church learn how to build and equip the body where God has placed you.

A church I know that has a worthy pastor to emulate

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