Questions Pastoral Candidates Should Ask Churches

Discussion in 'A Puritan's Mind Updates' started by C. Matthew McMahon, Jan 23, 2017.

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  1. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    So, let's reverse the question. What should Pastoral Candidates ask prospective churches as they look at the church and consider whether that is the place God is drawing them to minister the word?
     
  2. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Unless the last pastor retired after several decades, or was caught up in a very public scandal, "Why did the previous pastor leave?"

    "What do you expect of my wife?"

    "What are the five biggest issues confronting this congregation?"

    "What do you think the 'right size' is for this church?"
     
  3. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    It's easy for me to be cavalier because I'm not depending on this for my bread and cheese.

    My questions off the top of my head:

    1. Are there big $$ givers, in leadership or among the laity, who lord it over the congregation whether explicitly or passive/aggressively? Is there fear of disciplining this man or challenging his fiscal bullying?

    2. Like Edward said, "What do you expect of my wife?"

    3. How is smoking and drinking viewed?

    4. Is church discipline practiced? If not, why? If so, when was the last case of it? If it has been a longtime then why are there not more immature Christians in the congregation?

    5. Are there any new folks that were converted from "scratch" and were not due to movement from another Church in the past couple of years? If not, why not?

    6. The "pulse" of the current session and deacons' board. Basically are there ANY smoldering disagreements from music to mercy ministries?

    I suppose I could come up with more. In any event I probably wouldn't be extended a call after my grilling.
     
  4. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    I always ask to see a copy of their budget for the last 5 years. That speaks volumes as to where their treasure lies.

    How well do your men lead their homes in godliness?

    How faithfully do the people serve in the ministries of the church? (In other words,, are all these things printed in the bulletin stuff I'm going to have to do with some sort of superhuman strength, while they're called "ministries of the church"?)

    What do you expect of my kids?

    How do the other elders/deacons/staff lead their homes?

    What ministerial/missions associations does the church maintain? What are the expectations concerning them?

    How faithfully do the leaders share their faith?

    Can you explain the gospel to me?

    What sort of biblical/theological training has been provided for the leaders in the past 5 years? (Or evangelism, counseling, etc.)

    Have you ever failed to pay the minister's salary before? If money gets tight, what gets cut before my salary? My kids have to eat and my landlord must be paid, just like at your house.

    What medical insurance do you supply, if any? Retirement? Dental?

    If I'm in hot water in a year or two, what have I done/not done?

    What did you love/not love about the last minister? (and his family?) What could have been done differently? Why?

    Is there any sort of book allowance or mileage reimbursement?

    Who's the " church boss"? (This could be a man or woman, but there's usually one alpha personality who quietly, or not so quietly, really runs things). It's not right, but it's often reality.
     
  5. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    One of the most important questions a pastor can ask is this: how does the congregation handle conflict? Suppose a pastor steps on someone's toes? Does the congregant see that as a ministry issue, and therefore feel free to talk to any number of people before they talk to the pastor about it? In other words, does every small issue become a mountain?
     
  6. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    I have taken to asking ~ five or so questions (not necessarily in this order or all I ask):

    1) What do you expect from my wife?

    2) What do you expect from me/What is your understanding of the pastoral office?

    3) Why does your church exist/what is your role as a congregation in the Kingdom?

    4) What do people in the community know about your church/How is your church involved in the community?

    5) How do the officer's of the church relate to the congregation?
     
  7. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    These seem to be getting at the same issue, although Zach's wording probably should be used if the pastor already feels led to decline a call. (Since the big giver/boss is probably well represented on the committee). Perhaps something along the lines of "Who are the informal leaders of the church, and how is their influence usually expressed?"

    An excellent point, and one did not think of. That's an area where a Presbyterian church should have an advantage, as the Presbytery would need to approve the change of call in most of the denominations.
     
  8. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    What was it about my resume, etc. that caused you to want to consider me for this position?

    Understanding why a church is attracted to a particular candidate reveals quite a bit about their mindset and their expectations.

    I asked this question of both churches where I have served and got an interesting answer both times that greatly helped in my decision to accept the call. My first church was apparently attracted to my resume because I mainly spoke of God and what he had done, rather than myself and what I had done. My current church indicated that in my email and phone exchanges, I was the only candidate who said I would be praying for the church to find the right candidate, whether that was me or someone else. I thought that was a normal thing, but apparently not.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  9. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    These are all great questions.
     
  10. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    I usually ask this question too; and have heard that response when indicating that I'll be praying for them, as well. A very sad commentary, indeed...
     
  11. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    The calling of a Minister has to have a dual interaction. I am of a mind that a ground rule must be laid at the outset. The called must make it plain to the callers that he is not the only one to be examined, but he has the right to interview them. The session or Pastoral committee in many cases is unknown to the candidate, or only known by perhaps previous preaching engagements. So that the true spiritual complexion of the elders, and thereby the church is really sketchily known by the prospective Minister. Sadly many sessions have a fragile spiritual unity. Also there is often a dominance by an individual, or a power coterie. Therefore it is incumbent upon the candidate to graciously probe the doctrinal standing and personal relationships that pertain amongst the examining body. Their state is often a guide to the spiritual health of the membership. Any party spirit can be the ruination of the future ministry. The maxim,all cards on the deck, holds!
     
  12. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    What is your relationship with the presbytery and the denomination? Is the local church actively involved in the wider work of the denomination?
     
  13. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    In light of the fact that you have been observing my life and walk with the Lord for the last few years do you believe that I am biblically qualified and called to the ministry?
     
  14. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    This is very important. I can't tell you how many times I personally have conversations with ministers, I'll say to them, "Is there anything I can pray for you about?", and then I'm sometimes hard pressed to find them asking the same to me. It's discouraging on that note. (Off topic though).
     
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