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How do you biblically evaluate and call a pastor? Chris Brauns answers that in his new book, When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search: Biblical Principles and Practices to Guide Your Search (Moody, 2011). If your church is searching for a pastor, this is would be my top recommendation, and it would be wise to have multiple copies on hand.

You can read chapter 5 online here.

Here’s a description:

At any given time there are thousands of churches seeking a lead pastor. While a great resume, a friendly smile and a memorable sermon will convince many, what should local congregations focus on to find a new shepherd? Chris Brauns believes to find a great preacher the search must focus on God's Word and how the candidate relates to it and preaches from it.

This book is a must have resource for search committees and church leaders addressing the needs of churches in the transition of pastoral leadership. It assists by approaching their responsibilities in a biblical way and providing critical help in key practical matters. From the initial formation of a search committee to the final terms of agreement with the new pastor, Brauns shows you how to "major on the majors" and away from subjective approaches of evaluating candidates and their sermons. Great also for pastors or pastoral students to know how to prepare, the book includes such practical tools as interview questions for candidates and the top mistakes search committees make.

Here are a couple of the blurbs:

“The next time someone asks me for advice on conducting a pastoral search process I will tell him to read this book. This isn't the only book you should read prior to launching your search, but it is the first. This book is practical, theological, biblical, and wise.And when a pertinent topic isn't covered, Chris Brauns points you to the right resources. There are few decisions more crucial for a church than picking the right pastor. You owe it to yourself to read this book. It will help churches and pastors avoid lots of common mistakes.”

--Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church (East Lansing,MI)

“In the normal course of events, the search for a pastor should not be a regular event in the life of a congregation. When a church needs to find a pastor, therefore, many have little guidance as to how to go about the process. Chris Brauns's book is the only resource of its kind that I have ever seen. If your church is searching for a pastor, or if you are a pastor seeking to equip your congregation to follow biblical guidelines when that day does come, I highly recommend this thoughtful, practical, biblical work to you.”

--Russell D. Moore, Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

You can find more information and resources at the book’s site.

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5 thoughts on “How to Search for a Pastor”

  1. Clarification Dave says:

    Does the book contain a chapter that would help evaluate the theological agenda of a pastor or congregation? And I don’t mean agenda in any pejorative way. Some churches in the free church tradition (Southern Baptist Convention, at least) have poor theological evaluation skills past “preach the Bible”. I have known of disasters in the making where Arminian/non-Calvinist churches have called a personable “Bible” preaching pastor who had an agressive Calvinist re-shaping program for the congregation. Or charismatic worship leaning pastor wanting to introduce new worship styles, or many other issues.

    A congregation and candidate should (1) be aware of its or his present general theological approach to its or his mission, (2) know how to ask questions and listen to answers in order to assess theological leanings, (3) recognize a possible difference between what is personally held as a belief for individual growth of faith and what should drive an agenda for re-shaping the congregation as a whole (4) determine the “weightier provisions” from those which are oriented more toward opinion and lesser agressive emphasis or have been alread fulfilled in Christ.

    Theological assessment tools for congregations are a great need in the churches.

  2. Chris Brauns says:

    Dave, the book aims specifically to help churches evaluate candidates as shepherds. I also devote a considerable amount of space equipping congregations to know what to look for in preaching. In terms of preaching, it is not as straight-forward as many assume. There is a real need for churches looking for a pastor to agree about what constitutes a biblical sermon.

    In terms of your particular question, there is not a chapter that explicitly helps churches evaluate the theological agenda of a pastor. I agree emphatically that this needs to be done. But, I think it would require not just one chapter but a series of chapters because there are so many different areas to probe.

    There is a chapter that talks about the need for a church to unify around its particular doctrinal identity.

    1. Clarification Dave says:

      Thanks for the reply.

      I hope that you or others or even myself will consider the need to develop theological assessment tools that would assist congregations (especially those in free church traditions where the congregation has such independent autonomy they may have a long history of absence of considering such issues). I am pleased that the book contains the chapter on unifying around its particular doctrinal identity. That seems like it would be a great start for beginning such development.

      We live in such biblically and theologically illiterate times many congregations are at a loss to where to start other than “Do you believe the Bible and preach from it?” “Yes.” “Great, next question.”

      1. Clarification Dave says:

        My thoughts are especially concerned about those theologically based issues where there might be potential for real tensions. I personally hold certain theological positions on certain issues that are different from many in my congregation. They are not denominationally incongruent so the problem is not there. I have not encountered a problem in the congregations I have pastored because I did not have an agenda to push them and when I teach about them (more from the lectern than the pulpit) I acknowledge the many different perspectives while educating them on why I hold the particular positions without insisting they conform.

        To me it is a matter not only what a pastor believes but also what he holds as being essential to push, what to push immediately, what to educate gradually and what to allow for wide variety.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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