One pastor recently said, "I would rather ride a bucking bronco of a church than try to prop up a dead mule." It's helpful to know if you're going to get either of those beasts before you mount up.
Just as the search committee is going to be thorough, the candidate needs to be thorough, as well. Asking is critical. Here is a list of strategic questions to help you discern any potential problems when you're seeking that "perfect" church.
1. How would you describe your church?
Does the committee tend to define itself by its past, or is it excited about dreams for the future? Do the core values look inward or outward? Rick Ezell, pastor of Naperville (Illinois) Baptist Church, believes it's similar to describing an individual: "I can say, 'I'm tall, but I'd like to be taller. I'm growing, but I'm not growing like I should.' I'm listing a lot of negative inflections." That may point to some past conflict or a negative spirit.
2. Why was the church started?
Was the church born out of a split? "Even if it's 100 years old," says Leroy Armstrong, pastor of Greater Good Hope Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, "there's a good possibility that through the generations since the split, that spirit of fighting might still be in the church."
3. What is this church's purpose?
Have they defined its mission? Does it have a well-thought-out strategy?
4. What is your unique role in this community?
What sets this church apart from other churches in terms of character, culture, staff? What specific people groups does it reach out to, or what specific ministries does it operate that no other church in this community does?
5. How would a neighbor around the church portray this congregation?
"When I asked this of one search committee, a couple of ...