A Search Committee is inclined to move too fast! Once elected, the mood is to quickly begin to set the criteria, write the job description, identify candidates, listen to sermons, and then set up meetings with the best prospects. Big mistake! Lots of things need to happen before the Committee begins to identify prospects and evaluate them.

It may sound like frivolous things, but the very first thing that should happen has to do with the internal life of the Committee itself. There needs to be organization. The Committee needs to choose its chair, co-chair (or vice chair), secretary, and appoint certain members to be the “point” person with regard to the various functions that the Committee will be doing during the process. It is usually at this point that the Committee will discuss whether it would like to consider using a search consultant to assist them in their task. Many search ministries, such as McGowan Search, would be happy to visit with the Committee, at their own expense, to share how they might be of assistance. Should the Committee desire to engage a consultant it would ordinarily request the governing Board to approve such a relationship and establish it on their behalf. Regardless of whether that is done, the Committee should wisely attend to some ground rules such as confidentiality, and the number of votes that will be necessary for a name to be chosen as the candidate that will be presented to the congregation. At this point the Committee needs to agree to a process to be accompanied by an agreed-upon time line that would, in effect, establish pre-set goals.


Remember the principle – Don’t move too fast! Take the time to do the work of preparation. In the final analysis, it will pay big dividends.


McGowan Search has developed a four-stage process that has proven to be very effective for Pastor Search Committees. The first stage is Preparation which involves lots of work and utilizes the entire Committee to accomplish important tasks. The first task is a congregational self-study that involves the development of a congregational questionnaire that seeks information from the members concerning their perspective on the church and their feelings concerning the qualities that are needed in their next pastor. Another part of this self-study is interviewing, for the purpose of securing more in-depth information, all the members of the program staff and key volunteers. Finally, a series of questions needs to be developed that will be addressed to the congregation’s governing board. With the answers to these questions, plus the information gleaned from the congregation and key person interviews, the Committee is ready to prepare three critical documents: the Church Profile, the Pastor Profile, and the Candidate Questionnaire. When these three documents are prepared, then the Committee is ready to move into Stage II of the task, which is “Casting the Net” (or beginning to secure names of highly qualified candidates to consider).

Remember the principle – Don’t move too fast! Take the time to do the work of preparation. In the final analysis, it will pay big dividends.