Avoid human extremes: Pride or carelessness. Say neither, “None could be good enough for our pulpit;” nor, “Anyone will do.”
In actuality, the Pulpit Committee does not really “CALL” a man. God’s man is of God. There must be a balance between your own urging a prospect and the Holy Spirit’s work.
At all cost avoid any attitude of “trying out” candidates.
Yours is one of the highest duties a church member can perform in seeking God’s leading and being His instruments to reach God’s man–to be used as a channel through which God will CALL His man.
Every individual committee member is obligated to prepare his heart Spiritually.
I. GATHERING AND SCREENING NAMES
- Be on guard against a deluge of possible names. Neither seek nor be influenced by haphazard suggestions. This will only bog the committee down. Use a proper procedure and trust the results with God!!! You will never be able to track down every suggestion. My advice is, don’t try.
- Screening Names: From reliable sources prayerfully gather data on likely prospects. Evaluate your information from various standpoints:
- Spiritual qualities
- Pastoral ability (work with people)
- Vision for youth
- Soul winning
- Personality and physical appearance (that is, is he slovenly or neat?)
- Educational background
- Information from his schools and on past experience is helpful.
- The ideal is to prayerfully decide on a Number One choice as a committee. (In other words, the committee does in brief just what they are to expect of the church.) The committee does not run over the country inspecting a “line-up” of prospects. But, rather, without committing themselves to a man, they approach him in the proper manner set forth below and attempt to determine whether or not he is God’s choice. If there is that certain, compelling direction of evidence and opinion, arrangements continue in the course of the planned procedure. If there is doubt, the committee moves on to another name. The man has not yet even been requested to be a candidate. When you come to God’s man, the Lord is able to give you indications. But, if you are not expecting it, then you are cast entirely upon your own wisdom as you go down a list, hoping to juggle and balance the one against the other.
II. APPROACHING THE PASTOR
- Exercise care and consideration; you are putting a Pastor in a place of trial as you exercise him concerning a possible call.
- When you visit the prospect’s church, unless you learn something drastically negative, it would be well to use the opportunity then and there to talk with him. At the door, one member of the committee should mention as he leaves, “Several of us would like an appointment to see….when and where convenient ….while we are here in town.”
- At the outset of the talk together, explain you are not yet asking anyone to be a definite candidate, “but we do have your name under consideration and want to talk with you.” (Do not immediately ask if he is willing to be considered as a possible candidate. If he is definitely opposed, he’ll say so soon enough. Keep the door open until you have a chance to layout your challenge and interview him.)
a. Present Your Case
In simplicity and frankness. Don’t hide needs and problems. (Remember, a true Shepherd is urged by cries of needs as well as other things.) Include: Brief history of church. Church’s strategic position in needy area. Its varied ministries and opportunities. New building plans and state of affairs. Budget size. Willingness of people to cooperate, their vision and earnestness. Good officers. You might want to give some idea of the material provisions: Salary, nice parsonage, other benefits–adding whenever this does definitely come up, “Naturally, we don’t have authority yet to quote any exact contract, but we will love and properly care for our Pastor, I’m sure.”
b. Question Him
What experience in Christian work have you had? How would you characterize and describe your own ministry–that is, what do you consider the strong points? Ask whatever questions desirable regarding his sermon structures and content, style of sermonizing, visitation, youth, administration, soul-winning both in private and personal contacts and through public preaching. (Does he use public invitations and how often?) Radio work, missions program and vision, Sunday school views. (How have all these things worked there in his church?) Personal background questions. Ask about his views on visitation. “How is your prayer meeting going?”
Notes on Questioning a Prospect: Some questions may seem awkward to ask, but remember, to learn his humility and “give and take” is just as important as other things. BUT BE KIND. Invite him to be frank in his questions to you. (Ask him to question concerning your church freely.) Notice the questions he asks and you
will get the feel of his own sense of values and concerns.
Naturally, you may not want to go into all this–but these questions and others should be covered, at least, in some way at some time.
III. CONSIDERING THE CANDIDATE
In a later private committee session, in earnest prayer it is now your job to decide: Does he still seem to be a possible candidate of the Lord for us? If there is uncertainty, drop him from active consideration, at least for the time being. (You have not committed yourself to him at all, so no letter of explanations are due him, in so far as I see it… especially not, if you have made this perfectly clear at the outset as this paper suggests.)
IV. DEALING WITH A CANDIDATE
- If the Pulpit Committee is solidly in favor of the candidate and feels that, in so far as they are concerned, they are prepared to recommend him to the church as their choice–providing (and this is the only remaining uncertainty) the actual candidating dealings and sermons are satisfactory. (Do not feel too much on the spot at this point. You still will have another meeting after he preaches in which to make your final decision.
NOTE THIS CAREFULLY IN ALL THAT FOLLOWS . . . or else sheer hesitancy will hold you back.)
- Several choices of procedure could be used–whatever suits the situation best, considering your own wishes and considering the candidate’s schedule as well. The most usual procedure would be to definitely ask him to be a candidate. He may agree to this readily, or he might need time to decide. It would not be wrong to meet with him for another session first, if you so desire. Or, you could even have him meet with the entire Deacon Board, if you desire. (In any event, such a meeting would be well on candidating–Sunday afternoon between services.) Any such meetings, if held prior to his preaching engagement might well be scheduled in your own location. This would give you a fair and square chance to display your setup and future plans–maybe even the parsonage. Ask his wife along, if you desire. (Some churches reserve all this stuff until candidating Sunday.)
Another sound procedure is to have the candidate lead a prayer service–either before or after preaching on a Sunday. Folks will get closer this way. If you are persuaded it’s wise, a time of discussion with the whole congregation might follow the prayer service.
Then there are the Sunday sermons. Make him feel at home in every way. He is not on trial! Deacons pray with him! Do arrange tour of Sunday School in action. Perhaps in the afternoon, or after evening service, have a last Clear-the-air meeting. (Here is a good place for the Deacon Board to meet him.) Then bid good-bye to the candidate and have joint meeting of Deacon Board and Pulpit Committee. Here your final recommendation is presented to Deacon Board and they can question you. If they are in favor or your recommendation–either they can recommend to the church on’the basis of your report, or, you will be free to report your recommendation to the church, with the approval of the Deacon Board. (In event of a negative reaction, here is the place to face it honestly. Do not then present the name to the church even though they have heard him preach. Rather, report at a later business meeting that it was not certainly felt that he was the man. And, an honest unashamed letter will have to be gotten off at once to the Pastor because you have engaged him as a candidate.)
Post Notice that very night calling for business meeting–perhaps next Sunday. Every member ought to be urged to be present so an impressive vote can be had. Recommendation is there read and received and then moved, discussed, voted. Before this meeting, the Pulpit Committee should have met with the Executive Board or any other official groups to discuss any of the items or aspects to be included in the official call (which ought to be made in the form of a well outlined paper, describing how the church proposes to support the pastor, cooperate with him, and make any necessary changes or additions which were noted in dealing with him as being needed by him: for example, something about the parsonage you desire to improve especially for him–or some special way of paying salary or other benefits.) All such matters should be agreed upon in writing and placed in good, final form so that at the very time the church is called upon to vote on the man, they can
hear and approve “as read” or “as revised” the CALL itself. (By the way, I am giving you a sample so that you will have something to go by.)
V. CALLING THE PASTOR
- Whatever the church’s vote (and it ought to be considered negative and recorded so, if there is a substantial negative minority) the candidate should be so notified immediately so that that very week he will receive the final word.
- To Call Him
The correctly typed and official call (couple pages long) should go with the clerk’s official copy of the minutes of the meeting so he will see just how it was issued. PLUS a covering letter of explanation, spiritual affection and encouragement from the clerk: conveying the idea that the church feels God has so led and all will continue in prayer, awaiting his reply.
- If he accepts, that’s it! However, subsequent meetings ought to be made between officials of church. Technically, the Pulpit Committee merely is to provide encouragement to responsible ones of church to see that the Call-contract matters are lived up to in an acceptable way. Now, the chairman of the Board of Trustees would takeover and deal with the Pastor, as if “he is our Pastor.”
- During the interim, waiting for him to finish up another field, avoid laying responsibilities on him from your end. Request everyone to let him alone. He is going through deep water and can’t handle two churches and move all at once. Support him in prayer, send him notes of encouragement (with no jobs enclosed), put him at once on the mailing list, send Sunday bulletins. Work like beavers to offer him any improvements. Help him get settled. Don’t demand that he get in on all committees at once. Encourage him to get settled and rested first.
And, God bless you and lead you. Whenever you feel divided, pray.
NOTE: These Scriptures need not sound harsh if used simply to season the Search Committee’s own minds of essential principles needed to discern.
Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things, as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.
22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. 23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly. 24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor. 25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.
Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Soverign and Lord.
Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.
3 John 9-12
9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. 10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. II Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone–and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
2 John 9-10
9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome him.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.
15 The way of fools seems right to him, but the wise listen to advice. 16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent verlook an insult.
24 A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. 25 Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. 26 His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Minutes of Special Business Meeting held ____(date)___________.
With Moderator _____________ presiding , the special business meeting was called to order promptly at _______________.
The Clerk read the Call of the meeting, having been posted ______________, as requested in our By-Laws.
Prayer was given by _____________________.
___________________, Chairman of the Pulpit Committee, at the request of Moderator ______________ read the report of the Pulpit Committee–it being in the form of the Call to Reverend __________________ of _____________________ to become Pastor of the ___(Name and address of of your church)__________.
At the conclusion of the reading of the report, as a recommendation from the Committee the following motion was moved and seconded:
That the recommendation be accepted and that a Call be issued to Reverend______________.
No questions were asked. The Moderator requested that Messrs. _____________ and ______________ to act as Tellers and that everyone of legal age vote by ballot.
Results of balloting:
______ballots cast in the affirmative
Thereby declared an unanimous vote in the affirmative by the Moderator.
The motion to adjourn was next to follow.
Sample of Official Call Letter:
The Deacon Board met last ______________ to consider the report of the Pulpit Committee. After a lengthy discussion the Board unanimously voted to present the following for official action:
The Deacon Board recommends to the church that Rev. ______________, now Pastor of the ______________ church, ___(city, state)_______, be given a call to be the pastor of ____________________.
The length of the pastorate shall be for an indefinite period and in accordance with the By-Laws of the _______________.
The total salary and benefits will be $_________ per year. The items provided for in the total salary and benefits are as follows:
Fuel – oil…………………………………………………….$000
Electricity and gas……………………………………….$000
Blue Cross/Blue Shield…………………………………$000
Convention expenses to be considered as occasion arises. Salary will be paid weekly or as mutually agreed.
The household goods of Rev. _________________ will be transported to the parsonage at the expense of the church.
It is expected that the salary will increase with the growth and prosperity of the church.
3. LIVING QUARTERS
The parsonage located at _______________________ is available rent-free. The church will keep the parsonage in good repair.
a) The pastor will be entitled to a month’s vacation every year. This vacation will include ____ Sundays. The time of vacation and whether taken as a whole or in two sections will be decided as the pastor and the Board of Deacons mutually agree.
b) The pastor will be entitle to one weekday off each week for rest and relaxation.
c) The pastor will be privileged to attend conventions as he and the Board of Deacons mutually agree.
d) While the pastor is absent, during his vacation and at such times as mutually agreed upon with the Board of Deacon, the church will pay for such pulpit supply as needed.
a) The church will provide space for an office with suitable furnishings.
b) Secretarial help will be provided.
6. ASSURANCE OF SUPPORT
The church wishes to assure Rev. ___________________ of its loyal support to him in his leadership as he follows Christ.