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What I Wish Pastors Knew about Pastoral Recommendations

I’ve read thousands.
What I Wish Pastors Knew about Pastoral Recommendations

Editor’s Note: We published J.R. Briggs’s “A Pastoral Rant about Pastoral Recommendations,” which inspired this word from the receiving end. With J.R.’s full blessing, we now publish the counter point of view.

Dear Pastor,

I am grateful for you—the pastoral work you do is some of the most important work on the planet.

As an admissions counselor at a Christian college, though, I read over 3,000 pastoral recommendations, and there are a few things I think you ought to know.

I sympathize with you that there are a lot of bad recommendation forms out there, but after nine years of attempting to craft the perfection recommendation question, our team gave up. We came to the sad conclusion that no matter what we ask—even our most perfectly crafted and theologically astute question—a pastor’s gonna write what a pastor wants to write. Let me give you seven examples:

One-word responses

Nothing makes the hours of crafting the perfect question feel more ...

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