He can walk on water!
He can visit everyone in the hospitals in a single evening!!
He can quote the Bible, chapter and verse, from cover to cover!!!
He quells discontent and soothes angry parishioners!!!!
All this and more, while preparing and delivering dynamic, awe inspiring sermons without breaking a sweat!
He’s Billy Graham! He’s Super Minister! He’s . . . your next pastor!!
Actually, he doesn’t exist. Aw -w-w-w-w. How disappointing!
So, what’s a church to do when looking for a new pastor, or any staff member for that matter? How can unrealistic expectations be reigned in to allow the person to be human and at the same time fulfill a job description in a meaningful way?
- Pastor search committee – The committee charged with the responsibility of locating a new pastor or other minister needs to meet and organize for the task ahead before actually beginning the exploration. Determining the parameters of their mission and confirming the expectations of the church for their responsibilities is important so they don’t overstep their bounds or offend the church body by assuming what are the limits of their charge.
- Survey the congregation — Polling the congregation to determine what the expectations are, rather than assuming that the committee’s desires are everyone else’s will avoid divisions in the church. While everyone’s individual desires cannot be satisfied, looking for those areas that are a consensus of the majority can establish healthy guidelines. Age, experience, vision, and preaching style are some of the factors to be considered in the person being sought. Desires for the church in future years can be important in presenting the church to the prospective minister.
- Consult with experts — Many denominations have a section aimed at assisting churches when they are seeking a new minister. Independent churches can often tap into a denomination or an independent group dedicated to providing that assistance. While a fee may be involved in such a consultation, it might be the best investment a church can make to obtain objective advice in their search.
- Write a job description — Providing a written job description based on the information generated from a survey of the congregation and assisted by a consultant can eliminate a lot of grief when a prospective minister knows what he’s being expected to consider. Churches have a history of doing a great job of selling themselves to ministers, then having a different agenda when s/he arrives on the church field. Delineating parameters of authority regarding other staff members and support staff helps avoid confusion and friction.
- Allow time for recovery – A season for healing and recovery of the loss of previous pastor/staff member is beneficial before moving forward. The loss of a beloved staff member involves a grieving experience for many church members. Or perhaps as the result of a bad experience, the church needs time to come together with healthy unity and a positive outlook for better days.
- Foster a bond within the church – Using the time while recovering from the loss of the previous minister to foster an attitude of oneness and hope for the future of the church can make the staff transition one of excitement.
- Prepare the church for the new minister — Remind the church body that all ministers are human. They cannot satisfy everyone’s individual needs all the time. He or she will need time with family and personal time to be at the best possible as a minister.
If the groundwork is properly laid and a new pastor or staff member is called, caring for that person’s needs opens the way for him/her to minister in ways that are especially meaningful to the congregation. Preparing the congregation to be encouraging and open about ongoing needs and expectations in respectful caring ways assists the pastor in staying on track. It also increases the probability that both congregation and ministermore likely to live up to each other’s expectations.