Searching for a pastor

MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist

The Internet has changed the pastor search process. One Alabama church discovered on another church’s website that their pastor was up for a new position. He’d not informed leaders in his present church what he planned to do on his Sunday away, but soon the news was all over the community.

Years before churches had websites, a group from Florida traveled to an Alabama church one weekend to hear a pastor who’d been recommended to them. They discovered the pastor they wanted to hear was vacationing in their home state of Florida. A simple phone call would have saved their long trip, and they might’ve been able to meet on the beach!

The most interesting experience I had with a search committee was after the group appeared on a Sunday unannounced, and then asked if they could talk with me after morning worship. The only substantive question I remember is whether we’d had a divorce in our family.

Then the chair pulled me aside and said, “If we decide to pursue this, we’ll call you. If not, we won’t, and we’ll save the church the cost of a long-distance call.”

In that day, a long-distance call was probably 25-30 cents, so it gave me some idea of how tight these leaders were with money. And, actually, they had saved money by not offering to take us to lunch!

Pastors used to ask friends to call or write a recommendation for them since it was unseemly to do this oneself. Now, it’s common for interested pastors to respond to ad postings with their resumes.

Changing churches as a pastor or other staffer in our evangelical tradition is a serious time for both church and minister. It’s a time everyone must prayerfully seek God’s wisdom. And even then we’re susceptible to bad decisions. Just because someone knocks on your door doesn’t mean it’s the will of God.

Ministers are called, they must be supported by the church. No pastor can do God’s work alone, and the sweetest words a pastor might ever hear are, “Pastor, I want to help you. Is there something I can do for God and his church?”

When the pastor gets over his initial shock, he will, no doubt, try to match the gifts of the member with the needs of the church and community. God’s work will prosper.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is Siluriabaptist.com.