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What are three things a pastoral search committee should keep in mind?

  • Don't overcorrect. One common mistake is to subconsciously look for someone who is strong where the previous pastor was weak. For example, Pastor Jones was great with people, but not dynamic in the pulpit, so the committee hires a great communicator. However, the new pastor is not as personally warm and is soon contrasted unfavorably with Jones. Or Smith was constantly going to school and conferences, so they hire someone with no desire for advanced training. They quickly find the new pastor isn't on the growing edge of anything. Overcorrection is one reason why many long-term pastorates are followed by a "sacrificial lamb."

  • Don't cover up. Committees tend not to be honest about the challenges their church faces. Perhaps they don't realize the flaws. If this is the case, my advice is to do your homework. Before rushing to start the search, spend time discerning the state of the church, its needs and expectations. This makes it easier to present a more accurate picture of the church to prospective candidates.

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