Friday, August 8, 2008

"Manners" and Pastor Search Committees

As early as 2003 while serving as a bi-vocational pastor, the Lord put a burden on my heart to be willing to serve some congregation somewhere as a full time pastor. The burden became so great by 2005 that I submitted my resignation to the small church I was pastoring in order to help them transition to another pastor before the Lord put me in a full time position.

Well, it is now 2008 and the Lord has not opened the specific church door to me, YET. For these past 5 years, many church openings have been brought to my attention. With the internet, you can view such openings via a variety of searches. On any given day, you can locate dozens of full time Southern Baptist church pastor openings. Add to this the various Baptist papers and I could spend all my free time sending resumes to various churches in almost all states. However, I have refrained from operating this way.

When I become aware of an opening, I quickly pray about the situation. If I do not sense a response from the Lord, I disregard that specific opportunity. When the Lord does impress me about a certain church, I then spend some days praying about it. In a few cases these past 5 years, the Lord continues to convict me about these specific churches. I then send a copy of my resume to those churches.

Needless to say, while I have sent resumes to less than 1% of all the openings I have seen in the past 5 years, I have sent several. Therefore, I can say I have some experience with how pastor search committees treat such resumes.

Please note the following statistics based on my personal tracking:

  • Over 78% of my resumes never receive one word from the pastor search committee; no phone calls, no e-mail responses, and no snail mail letters.
  • 21.7% of the time I have received one response, the overwhelming majority of those are "no, thanks" (some of them, though, are simply notes telling me my resume has been received).
  • About 2.5% of the time, the pastor search committee has responded to me two or more times. Usually one of these contacts is to inform me my resume has been received and one of the other contacts informs me I am not being considered.
I find such percentages appalling! They indicate a disrespect for the candidate on the part of the search committee. By not responding to the individual, they leave the minister "hanging". Is this how we should treat the servants of God who are simply responding to the conviction the Lord has placed on their heart?

Since I am employed full time in the business world, I also have experience sending my business resume to various companies whenever I am looking for a new position. Secular corporations treat their applicants with much more respect. Companies have always responded with, at a minimum, two letters: one stating my resume/application has been received and the other indicating I am no longer being considered for the position. I can't think of one experience in my 35 years of employment contrary to this.

If you are on a Pastor Search Committee, you need to demonstrate respect for those servants of Christ applying for your pastorate. In some way, acknowledge receipt of their resume. Also, when your committee determines a given applicant is no longer being considered, notify the applicant of this situation immediately.

Church Pastor Search Committees should put secular employment departments to shame with their communication to the applicants. I exhort such committees to commit to communicating diligently with EACH applicant.

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