Starting a Pastoral Search Committee

In the PCA, the Book of Church Order allows for two options when forming a pastoral search committee: the session (the board of elders) can serve as the committee or it can be made up of laypeople from the congregation. At least two different pastoral search consultants recommend against the first option, including the consultant we worked with, Dr. Charles McGowan.
The elders did have a say in putting together the committee.

First, the elders created a job description/list of expectations for the members of the search committee (see the list of Expectations here). Next, they put together a slate of recommended names and presented that slate to the congregation for approval.

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Thinking of Easter This Christmas

For nearly ten years, I worked at a Christian curriculum company, developing K-12 courses for the homeschool and Christian school markets. That’s where I learned the importance of being part of a team.

The salespeople would tell us, “You people in the office wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for us, out there making sales & bringing the company revenue.” Those of us in product development replied, “Without us making products, you wouldn’t have anything to sell!” Although it was all good-natured fun, there was an important lesson to be learned.

In a similar way, we have elders AND deacons in the church, each with different responsibilities (Acts 6:16). Deacons serve (mainly) physical needs while elders serve (mainly) spiritual needs. Different roles and responsibilities, but each is necessary.

It’s the same with Christmas and Easter.

I’ve heard Christians in heated discussions about whether Christmas or Easter is more important. The debate goes something like this:

“If it weren’t for Easter (the cross & the resurrection), our salvation wouldn’t be possible.

“True, but if Jesus hadn’t been born, there wouldn’t be anyone to resurrect.”

God intended it to be both/and, not either/or. From before the creation of time, God ordained the incarnation. Likewise, He ordained Christ’s brutal death and resurrection. Both are required for our salvation.  The Father sent the Holy Spirit only after Christ’s incarnation AND death AND resurrection; both Christmas and Easter are required for our sanctification.

So this Christmas, enjoy the fun and festivities with family and friends, but don’t push Easter out of your mind. The incarnation was Christ’s first step on the road to the cross.

Hope to see you at church on Sunday!

What Our Pastoral Search Committee Got Wrong – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 2-part post. You can read part 1 here.

Our search committee worked with a search consultant, Dr. Charles McGowan, of McGowan Search. He was well worth the cost involved; he has years of experience in the PCA and the larger reformed community. Along with that experience comes a wide range of contacts.  Plus, he provided us with a wealth of forms (sermon evaluation sheets, reference interview forms, etc.) that we found very helpful. We spoke with him nearly every week – sometimes more often – discussing the process as well as specific candidates.

I say all this as prelude to the second thing that our committee got wrong. We followed Dr. McGowan’s advice closely – except in this one thing.

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What Our Pastoral Search Committee Got Wrong – Part 1

I mentioned in my last post that I chaired our church’s pastoral search committee. We just recently completed our work, with our pastor starting three weeks ago. We met one final time to discuss what we learned, what went well, and how we could have done better.

All evidence indicates that the new pastor is the right man for our church at this time – we got that part right. One thing that we didn’t do as well as we could have is work with an internal candidate, a man in our congregation – I’ll call him Rusty – who applied for the job of solo pastor. It probably goes without saying that this kind of situation can be awkward at best and perhaps painful at worst.

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The Most Important Thing a Pastoral Search Committee Can Do

We installed a new pastor at our church this past Sunday. This was the culmination of 19 months of work by our pastoral search committee (PSC). I was asked to serve as the chairman of the committee, and I’m glad to say that our committee experienced an unusual level of unity. I know this isn’t always the case with committees, especially with a diverse group who spends so much time together. We have to thank God for how he kept us committed to the task at hand, to each other, and to our church.
Whenever we reported to the congregation on our progress, we made a point to mention our unity. We felt it was important to let the congregation know that we were unified throughout the process.
And when we finally announced the candidate’s name to the congregation, we made sure to let them know that the vote was unanimous.
We had agreed at the outset about our ground rules for voting on candidates:

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