How to Handle the Process of Getting a Pastor for a Baptist Church

by Karen Hollowell
Selecting a church pastor requires patience, tact and prayerful consideration.

Selecting a church pastor requires patience, tact and prayerful consideration.

The selection of a pastor is a critical event in the church. In most Baptist churches, pastors are chosen through a process that can be lengthy and painstaking. Finding a man of God who is acceptable to the majority of the congregation requires a strong commitment from the church body. Considering the fact that pastors are called to be shepherds of the local church, the choice is one of utmost importance, requiring prayer and and Biblical leading.

Assess your church's needs. Is the current pastor retiring or moving to another church? Is your church a newly founded one? The answers to these questions will help your church determine what kind of experience and training you expect your future pastor to have.

Appoint a pastor search committee. The church body usually nominates and approves a committee in a general business meeting. Many churches try to have a representative attend from the major departments like Sunday school, missions and education. These people interact with most church members through these groups and are best able to represent their views.

Screen applicants. The pastor search committee -- commonly referred to as the pulpit committee -- acquires resumes from its local associational office or the Theological Seminary nearest to the church. The committee looks at these resumes, looking for specific features that it knows the church desires. For example, a smaller church may need to employ a bi-vocational pastor. A large church may require that its pastor have a graduate degree in theology.

Listen to preachers' sermons. After the committee has chosen several prospective pastors, it can begin to listen to them speak. Often, the committee members have to visit other churches to hear the candidate speak. If your church is currently without a pastor, prospective pastors can come and fill the pulpit which allows members to hear him preach while they get to know him better.

Meet with selected candidates after your church hears them preach. The committee should ask questions pertaining to doctrinal belief as well as Biblical teachings. This is also the appropriate time to ask about the pastor's expectations and his needs including salary, housing and other benefits.

Recommend a candidate to the church and ask for a vote. The committee will usually select one from the group and give official endorsement for this candidate at a general business meeting. Sometimes, the vote will take place at this meeting or the committee will ask that the congregation take some additional time to prayerfully consider whom they will choose, then hold another meeting within the next two weeks.

Accept the pastor formally if he is elected by majority vote. Some Baptist churches have a special service to welcome the new pastor to the community. If the pastor is newly licensed, but not ordained, your church or a church of his choosing will hold an ordination service to officially begin his ministry career.

Resources

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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