We often think about Pastor Search teams vetting pastors, but for the pastor in transition, it is so important that a pastor vet a church. Wise pastoral candidates will not avoid this important step. Here are some common steps that some pastors take to learn more about a prospective church. But how?
- Seek the LORD diligently in prayer to discern whether He would have you consider the church. Every important move you make should be immersed in prayer.
- Research the prospective church thoroughly.
- Read any documentation that is available: purpose, mission, vision, values, bylaws, etc.
- Read about the staff, if any.
- If a calendar is posted, review the activities. Is it current?
- If newsletters or bulletins are archived, read some.
- Is there a worship service video archive? If so, view some to get a feel for the worship.
- Make some key contacts:
- Director of Missions for that area. Ask what he knows about the church. Stable? Strengths? Weaknesses? Troubled? Cooperative? Where did the last pastor go? Was he terminated? Pressured to resign?
- Former pastor(s) to learn more about the church, his ministry, and his departure.
- Former staff members to learn more about the church, the former pastor, and their respective departures.
- State convention office to request a historical statistical report for the church and to ask what they may know about the church and the former pastor’s ministry.
- Neighboring pastors to ask what they may know about the church and the former pastor’s ministry.
- Neighboring businesses to ask what they may know about the church.
Again, seek the LORD diligently in prayer to discern whether He would have you consider the church.
Remember that ultimately, “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” (Acts 20:28)
- Be upfront about your questions and concerns. Don’t hesitate to discuss with the pastor search committee any concerns that may arise.