Letter to the Editor
June 17, 2022
In a 2014 article in BNG, writer Marion Aldridge penned an excellent piece on pastoral search committees. According to the article, “Even a tiny, troubled Baptist church can get 100 resumes.”
While one would hope this professional passion to seek the pastorate at churches, both small and large, would apply to today, the truth of the matter is ministers are trying to find ways out of the pastorate rather than into it. When doing a basic search of vacant pulpits on various denominational websites, what strikes me most is the length of time these pulpits have been vacant: on average, one year.
This is a serious concern that must be addressed. I want to offer three (there are more) tools to help churches, both small and large, search for a senior pastor:
- Succession is the way to go. Churches should buy in to the idea of succession planning. Succession is biblical. Church leadership needs to be intentional about mentoring and grooming future leaders to avoid lengthy vacancies.
- Training is critical. I cannot tell you how many search committees know nothing about selecting a pastor. Congregations need to seek materials, professionals, training and literature that will assist them in the process of remaining professional, unified and following best practices.
- Practice diversity. Regardless of the demographic of the congregation, members of the committee should fall across age, ethnic and gender spectrums. If your committee is predominantly one ethnicity and gender, you already have failed.
Utilizing these tools will help our churches make successful selections in a timely manner and attract highly qualified pastoral candidates so that maybe we can experience something similar to 2013, when a vacant pulpit was a buyer’s market.
J.C. Campbell, Oakland City, Ind.