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WE NEED A PASTOR, NOW!

Pastor Now

    My heart’s desire in blogging and writing articles is to promote spiritual health on a personal basis and on a corporate level in churches.  One way of doing that is to make you aware of resources that could be a blessing to you and/or your church.   Honestly, there is more out there today than any of us have the time to read and process properly.  We have to be discerning about into what resources we will invest our time and money. 

     If we want to be physically and spiritually fit it will require making healthy choices.  Every day we are faced with decisions that either promote or damage health!  Many of the choices we make every single day, over 300, are not about right and wrong, but what is wise and what is unwise.  Becoming unhealthy occurs over a period of time where we settle for less than God’s best for our lives. 

     Several years ago, I watched a church I had resigned from begin the pastoral search process.  One leader said this to the entire congregation when he felt they were moving too slowly, “We better take what we can get while we can!”  They ended up calling a man who lasted six months and it was a disaster for the church and the pastor’s family.  Recently, I heard this quote, “It is better to want what you do not have than to have what you do not want!”

     After writing on this subject I noticed a blog by Thom Rainer and saw it as a confirmation to say more on this subject regarding the need for a pastor and to share some of his comments.  “William Vanderbloemen has been able to combine over 15 years of ministry experience as a Senior Pastor with the best practices of Executive Search to provide churches with a unique offering: a deep understanding of local church work with the very best knowledge and practices of professional executive search. William, his wife Adrienne, have seven children and live in the Houston area.”

Here are a few of the highlights that were given for churches to consider:  “Every pastor is an interim pastor.  Succession planning is not just a corporate principle. It is highly biblical as well.  A church is married to one man, and it’s not the pastor—it’s Jesus.  When churches are searching out pastors, the first rule is ‘slow down.’  Churches hire too fast and fire too slow.  The most expensive hire you ever make is hiring the wrong person.  Carrying the weight of the things of God becomes too much for a man at a certain age.”

     Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird have written a book on this subject entitled NEXT, Pastoral Succession That Works.  One of the goals of their book is stated as to “demystify successful pastoral succession and help readers prepare for an even brighter future for their ministries.”  It might be worth checking out!  In recommending, or even suggesting, any resource it is always opening yourself to criticism about something in the book someone disagrees with.  Some good advice I was given years ago was to “eat the meat and spit out the bones.”

     In assessment, there are five characteristics from Dr. Charles Ridley which have become known as “knockouts.”  If the individual does not have evidence of these traits in their life then it is best to not proceed.  It is not saying they are not called nor is it devaluing them but it is saying that maybe they are not ready for the position they are seeking to fill. These characteristics are:

  • Visioning Capacity
  • Intrinsically Motivated
  • Creates Ownership
  • Relates to the Unchurched
  • Spousal Cooperation

     We must be careful of looking for the Sauls who are good-looking and tall, demonstrate leadership capacity, and charisma.  We must dig deeper and look at character.  What does his relationship with his dad look like?  How would his wife rate their marriage on a scale of 1-10?  How is his personal walk with the Lord?  It is interesting that the five areas most often asked about in job interviews, (age, education, experience, race, and gender), have little value on predicting how they will perform.  Remember the process is not about personal approval but is the candidate the right man, for the right place, and at the right time!

     Healthy churches slow down and allow God to direct!

WE NEED A PASTOR

Pastor

     “We need a pastor!”  That is something I am hearing quite a bit these days.  Churches do need a pastor but often I hear desperation and someone will say, “The sooner the better!”  While, yes, a church does need a pastor they do not need to rush into this decision too quickly.  This is one of the most important, if not the most important, decision a church will ever make.  This cannot be rushed nor should a church approach it too slowly by dragging its feet.  You should approach this process prayerfully and with much wisdom as you seek out the man of God to lead your congregation.

     When it comes to making such a major decision there are three basic approaches that are often used.  First, some congregations are time-driven.  The need is now and we must get busy in making sure this happens as quickly as possible.  We live in such a fast paced society which seems to be getting quicker by the minute, or maybe by the second.  Slow down and find out who the candidate is, what his track record has been, and what the references of his references have to say about him.  Remember, the only way you can predict future performance is based upon past behavior.  Adrian Rodgers once said, “A change of scenery never guarantees a change of character.”

     Second, some congregations are goal-driven.  They have a picture of what kind of pastor they need and quite often it is unrealistic.  The “perfect” pastor does not exist and if you are not careful the new pastor will begin his ministry with unrealistic expectations that even Superman could not fulfill.  The pastor is not called to do all of the work but to equip the members to do the work of the ministry.  Make sure your “job description” fits the word of God and that the expectations will not put more pressure on the pastor than it should.  The goal should be the right man, in the place, at the right time!  Some congregations are only going to use a resume to trust their family to, someone they don’t really know and have never lived with!

     Thirdly, congregations should be Spirit-driven.  Most would say “amen” to this, but be careful to not over spiritualize it as a “mystical” decision.  It is difficult when a church member says to a preacher that “God told me you were to be our pastor!”  What if God has not told him that yet?  Being Spirit-driven does not cancel out being time conscious.  Doing your due diligence in the process is very important.  Being Spirit-driven also does not cancel out being goal-driven.  The goal should be to find God’s man.  The unique dynamic in looking for a pastor is that the congregation must hear from the Lord and the man God is calling to lead them must also hear His voice.

     The reality is that there will always be those who want to go too fast and those who will want to go too slow.  Both are dangerous and that is why we must listen closely and carefully to the Spirit’s direction.  Not only is this one of the biggest decisions a church will ever make, it is also one of the biggest decisions a man and his family will ever make.  They may have to pick up stakes and start from square one.  All the transitions a family will have to go through when moving to a new field of service can be quite overwhelming. 

     There is a key question your church must consider as it prays for a pastor to be your spiritual leader.  Are they willing to do the work of an evangelist?  Jesus said, “I have come to seek and to save the lost!”  As you consider someone to be your pastor you must examine to see what their track record has been in this area.  Is there evidence of their pursuit of the lost and of sharing the gospel with others?  Have they trained those around them in how to effectively evangelize?  Have they intentionally built times into their schedules to be around those outside the church and not just hang out with the “in” crowd?  How have they related to the unchurched where they are presently ministering? How will they lead your church to obey the Great Commission locally?  What is their vision to equip your congregation to live as missionaries in your zip code?  All of the other characteristics you can look for in a pastor will have limited or meaningless impact if he does not have a burden for the lost!

     Healthy churches are Spirit-driven!