Good Friday, everyone! I hope today will be the start of a great weekend for you.
I just wanted to share some thoughts with you guys, whoever might be interested, regarding some recent interviews I’ve had.
Let me be clear, I am perfectly happy to stay right where I am as pastor of South Soddy Baptist Church. Now, don’t get me wrong, it would be great if this little church could grow, even by a few people. But I’m happy to stay here and work my tail off as long as this is where God wants me.
That being said, recently several churches have contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to be considered for the position of pastor. Again, I’m NOT looking to leave where I am, but I felt it would be wise to at least have a conversation with these different churches just to make sure I wasn’t missing God’s direction.
Because the churches that have contacted me have been out of town, each one has elected to do conference-style phone interviews, their pulpit search committees on one end of the line, me on the other.
However, what concerns me…which is what this post is going to be about…are the questions these pulpit committees are asking – or NOT asking.
What I have been experiencing from these pulpit search committees are questions that are rather weak, vague, and easy to manipulate. By “manipulate” I mean that they are questions that by their very nature tell me what the answer should be.
For example, before I participated in any of these interviews I did my research on who these people were. That’s only smart. So, if I were to have been asked questions about worship style, what version of the Bible I use, or even denominational polity, all I would need to know is apparent on their websites and social media accounts. If I had wanted to, I could answer their questions just like they were expecting.
But beyond that, the typically weak and vague questions are ones that inquire about my family, how well I work with committees, how long my average sermon is, and am I willing to visit people in the hospital.
Should you be one of the committee members of one of the churches that have interviewed me, whether on the phone or in person, please understand that I’m not mocking or deriding you – I’m simply concerned.
Tougher Questions, Please!
Whether it’s me being interviewed or someone else, my advice to these churches – maybe even yours – is to ask tougher questions that demand answers grounded in solid theology and backed with Scripture.
In the last several interviews I’ve never – not once – been asked questions like the following:
- Describe the time surrounding and leading up to, including the actual moment of your conversion.
- What are your views on the divinity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity?
- What is your belief regarding the sufficiency of Scripture?
- How do you think you meet the requirements of a “bishop” as found in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus?
- What do you think the Bible says about marriage?
- Do you regularly view pornography, and if not, how do you avoid it?
- Do you have a time you regularly spend with the Lord outside of sermon prep?
- How is your marriage?
- What books are you reading right now?
- Do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve, heaven, and hell?
- Why do you even want to be a pastor in the first place?
Just to be clear, I pastor Baptist churches, and Baptist churches select their pastors differently than other denominations. Baptist churches are autonomous, therefore (except in rare exceptions), we do not have a standard prerequisite for how pulpit search committees select and vet their candidates.
However, all I’m asking is that at the very least … should I be contacted again … could you make the questions a little more challenging, please? I really do need the workout.
I promise it’ll be fun 😉
11 responses to “I Was Interviewed – Or Was I?”
Beautiful, Anthony! Chuckling here, but our dear pastor of 17 years has moved on and we are looking for a new one. We have an interim pastor at the moment helping us to get it all together. So at this point I’m just trying to stay out it all, but a real bone of contention with me was that people, including our elders, were all asking the wrong darn questions, all really task oriented things like office hours, visiting people in the hospital,…. plumbing skills.
Yep. Glad my hammer was accurate. 🙂
Many of those questions could and should be asked of any man applying for leadership or woman for that matter. Ty . Good ones.:)
Great questions, Bro. Are these other churches non-bi-vocational opportunities?
Yes, they have been “fully-funded” opportunities.
Very different to the Baptist system in the UK where we have a national search team initially matching pastor profiles with church profiles. The process usually begins at church level with a telephone call between the prospective pastor and the church secretary who, if the pastor wishes to continue, will then go to the search team (often the deacons) to report back. After prayer a decision will be made on whether to meet in person. There are often two or three meetings, a preach with a peep and a preach with a view, and then a special church meeting to discuss whether an invitation should be made. Initial meetings for us have taken place over a meal in a deacon’s home.
Well, that’s not too different. All those other things take place later, also. Not every church is the same, of course. But your branch of Baptists is certainly different in that there is more of a denominational standard. We don’t have that.
Yes. Most Baptist Churches in the UK belong to the Baptist Union and are organised into regions, with a lot of support provided at regional level through the team of regional ministers. As a BU church our trust deeds are held by BU and they require that we can only appoint BU accredited Baptist ministers (although there are exceptions). Mostly the system works. Occasionally it falls over.
More security for your pastors, too, I assume.
Well, if you ever come to the dark side, and become a Missionary Baptist, I can promise you would be asked some of the questions you listed, if not all of them. Sadly, they might even ask how long your sermons are; but, hey even we aren’t perfect!
Those are great questions Pastor. To be honest, I would not be interested in attending a church where those type of questions were not asked of a potential Pastor.
I can’t imagine not asking about a salvation experience, Divinity of Christ, Trinity, Scripture, personal relationship and time with Jesus for personal growth.
God’s Blessing, Holy Spirit Guidance in any and all decisions you will be making.