Thom Rainer suggests four different levels at play with most church search committees when they are looking for a new senior pastor. Rainer also points out that most search committees do have clear priorities, but that these priorities are very seldom clearly articulated.
Here are the levels:
Level 1: Biblical, Theological, and Preaching
- Does he meet our theological and biblical beliefs?
- How does he respond to theological “hot button” issues?
- Does his practice match his beliefs?
- Is he an effective preacher?
- Would his preaching be well received by our church and community?
- Does he have several podcast sermons for ready listening?
Level 2: Background Information
- Does a legal background check reveal any issues of which we weren’t aware?
- Does a credit check reveal any financial concerns of which we should be aware?
- What has he communicated in the social media via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other channels?
- What do his references say about him?
- What do others who aren’t references say about him?
Level 3: Leadership and Relational Skills
- Is he an effective leader?
- How would his leadership style fit at our church?
- How does he handle conflict?
- Does he have healthy relational skills?
- Does he lead his family well?
Level 4: Previous and Current Church Experience
- Did he lead his church to healthy growth?
- Was he a missional leader in the church’s community?
- Does his past experience indicate he understands culture and contexts well?
- What were his primary emphases at previous and current churches?
- Did he relate to other church staff well?
Another thought: Search committees know that they will never find the ‘perfect’ pastor, but they are much more likely to accept a level 4 flaw than a level 1 flaw.