I will write this article established upon my own personal experiences. I recollect these events in my own personal encounters. As a whole many churches are clueless as to procedure that they should pursue in commissioning a Pastor. And I am not so confident about us as preachers that we do not have the identical problems.
It has been my experience, that if I am to submit a résumé, I have to tailor make it for the kind of church that I am sending the application to. If I know the church is a KJV only church, I am in trouble. If the church is known as a "free will" church, I am in trouble if I address this issue. If this church is a soul winning/altar calling church, I am in trouble. You get the point. You might say, what is wrong with a free will, KJV, soul winning/altar calling church? Nothing. I was raised in one of those independent fundamental Baptist churches. But if you have changed your view points, then there will be problems. I know not to give a résumé to a Presbyterian or a Methodist church.
I have been told by some, that if you want a church, you need to make sure that your résumé reads good, address the right questions, is crisp statements . In other words don’t be real honest.
I have had some to tell me, you don’t need to mention that you are not Southern Baptist, nor GARB, or WBF, BBF, etc. You don’t need to mention that you are not KJV only.. You do not need to mention that you are an expostional teacher. You do not need to mention that you are not a door to door soul winner. And that you preach doctrinally rather than the fuzzy feeling kind of talking. And I am not to mention that I teach the Doctrines of Grace, as are Spurgeon’s point of view. Just wait unto they get you as their pastor and then share with the church.
I often hear this statement: "We are seeking the pastor that God would have this church to have, not necessarily the kind of pastor we would want" While that is a great statement, and one that is correct. The fact is, generally the church is not really looking for God’s man to do God’s work. The church is looking for their idea of what they would like for God’s man to do in that church.
When I accepted the pastorate at Madison Baptist, and First Baptist, or even the two short term pastorats of Southern Baptist Churches, the first response to our coming were near disastrous, some were catastrophic. Well that point was overstated.
I remember in asking the pastor’s search committee of the two SBC, "Did you pray that God would lead you to the pastor that He would choose." And both times they said, "Yes" Than I said, "Then why have you rejected the leadership of the pastor, whom you believed the Holy Spirit lead you to bring to this church?" They had no answer. Who missed the leading of the Holy Spirit, the church or the preacher?
I have read a few questionnaires. I am amazed at the questions that are asked! I am not sure that most address the biblical idea of a Pastor. I Timothy and Titus give us the qualification for a Pastor/Elder. Those alone are the best set of qualifications that a church could follow in seeking the kind of minister that God would want for their church. And I am not sure a questionnaire answers those qualifications.
So why is this procedure of selecting a pastor or staff minister so hard?
Of course, the churches that are already in existence are a product of their training from the previous pastors and leaders.. Churches are today what they have been becoming. All churches have their idea what makes a great church. Unfortunately the church body is made up of people with dozens of different opinions as to what makes a good church and a good minister. The local church body of members usually is a collection of a smorgasbord of folks with as many convictions as there are people in the church. There is rarely a First Corinthian 1:10 congregation: ""Now I beseech you, church members, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, but that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (I don’t thank Paul was speaking of Baptist Churches do you?)
When you ask the membership what they would like to see in the next Pastor?. There will be as many ideologies as there are members. The membership will designate a pastor search committee, to search in their behalf and then when the committee submits to them their choice, more frequently than not they will say no. The praying of the Search Committee and the Membership is as if they are praying to two different Gods. Which is of course impossible.
I have seen this process many times. Within a few months of the new preacher’s introduction into the church, the church is prepared to see him depart. Generally I always think, they called him, rather than the Holy Spirit. I also hear the new preacher say, "The Holy Spirit called me to this church." Yep! That might be true, but the membership will say, it’s time for you to leave.
I can say this same thing, in this process that the Pastor of the church selects an Associate. Staff member. I have been employed by the Pastor, and then asked to leave within fourteen months, when the church desired me to stay. My mother said to me, "Charles if you are successful, as a youth pastor, you can be sure he will find a way to fire you" She was 99.9% correct.
Too often I have been tooooooo electrified in going to a church to minister, enamored by the size of the church building or the salary either as a staff pastor or the pastor. And too often the result has not been very enjoyable.
I have been often asked "How did you know that the Lord really wanted you to go to that church?" My answer is generally this: "Give me a year and I will let you know if it’s been the Lord’s will to be here."
What would make you say then, "This has been the Lord’s will that I came to First Baptist Church of Altoona, Kansas. I have said: The Nunnenkamp/Heaton/Alana Families, The Barnhart Family, The Busby/Frye families, The Cornwell Family, to name just a few.
I remember when our associate pastor questioned my staying at the church as pastor, Allen Nunnenkamp said "Since Charles has been here as Pastor I have been saved, my wife baptized and my family been saved........" And he named reasons why he was glad that I came as Pastor.
By the way I could use the same formula for Madison Baptist Church, after 30 years since I was pastor, there are still some good folks still active members of that church.
How do you know it’s the Lord’s will to go to a church, and then you are fired by the Pastor. If the results turn out to be men and women who have ministries like Alan Harris, Dave Greegor, Bill Rinehart, David Critcher, Randy Webb, Teresa Mills. To name a few. If the Lord can use a servant, even in a very small way, to accomplish His glory, then it’s His will for that servant to be there.
I Corinthians 2:10 "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God."