Home Pastors 7 Reasons It’s Taking Longer to Call a Pastor

7 Reasons It’s Taking Longer to Call a Pastor

Pastor

My experience is that it takes many churches at least a year in their search for a new pastor before they find their next leader. I’m not arguing that’s necessarily good, but I have found it to be the case more often than not. Here are some reasons this process is often long:

  1. Particularly during COVID, churches and pastors alike have been reticent to make moves. Search committees have not always met regularly (at least in person). Pastors who sense a call to change ministries sometimes delay moves while their current church is dealing with COVID-related issues. Much feels like it is still on hold.
  2. The “pastor search” process some churches follow assumes a long duration. A process that includes (a) selecting a search team, (b) surveying the church, (c) developing a church portfolio/brochure, (d) securing and reviewing resumes, (e) listening to sermons, (f) interviewing candidates, etc., necessarily takes time.
  3. Any time a search team chooses to review many resumes, they will take longer. Maybe you’ve known the church that collects hundreds of resumes and begins to work through them one-by-one. I don’t think this approach is the best one, but I understand a search team’s desire to be thorough in their search. It just takes a while.
  4. Churches who have had a bad experience with a previous pastor tend to be slower and more cautious. I understand that concern, and I do think it’s wise to learn from difficulties of the past. On the other hand, some search teams are so concerned they won’t get it right that they delay making any decisions or recommendations.
  5. Sometimes—and I want to be careful how I say this—the candidates most available are available for a reason. They may have lost their previous ministry for some reason, or they may have simply needed a break. Maybe they’re looking for the greener grass or the bigger church. When some candidates land in these camps, it’s indeed wise to take sufficient time to vet them.
  6. Because of social media, the process of checking out candidates takes more work. Now, a search team needs to check out a candidate’s posts as much as possible, even going far back into his history. If the search team doesn’t do that, it’s likely somebody in the church will do it (see the next point). In addition, necessary background checks, credit checks, and reference checks also take time.
  7. Again because of social media, church members can do their own homework about any announced candidate. They can listen to sermons. They can check out churches and websites. I’ve even seen church members start a Facebook page or website designed to oppose a candidate they don’t like. All of this complicates the process of calling a pastor.

What would you add to this list?

This article about calling a new pastor originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

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Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.