I’ve worked with a number of pastors and staff search teams as they vet possible candidates for their open positions. I’ve also spent a lot of time listening to candidates talk about their varied experiences in the process. Here are several mistakes I’ve seen search teams make:
1. Including the wrong members on the committee. Just because a person is viewed as a leader doesn’t necessarily make him or her a good search team member. Members ought to be godly prayerful Christians, good team members and trustworthy believers.
2. Praying too little. I’ve seen some committees that prayed a lot when their work started, a little during the actual search process and a lot more once they’d narrowed their search to one person. Significant prayer is essential during the entire process.
3. Not checking accuracy of the resume. You’d hope that all Christian candidates have only truth on their resume, but that’s not always the case.
4. Not doing background and credit checks. Again, I wish neither of these reviews was necessary, but we live in a fallen world.
5. Not asking theological questions. I’m amazed by the number of candidates I know who are asked only one or two (or zero) questions about what they believe. A general, “Do you believe the Bible?” is not sufficient.
6. Asking theological questions too late in the process. When the search committee doesn’t ask these questions until strong relationships have begun to develop, it’s too easy to let debatable responses pass.
7. Not checking references. I admit that few people include negative references on their resume, but you can still learn about a candidate from others.