What to look for in a pastor
Day One Publications
This book comes with warm commendations from, among others, Wayne Mack and John MacArthur. It is easy to understand why, for it deals helpfully with an important subject rarely addressed, namely how a church should proceed in seeking a pastor.
This is an area where churches often find themselves at a loss or pursue a course that ends in bewilderment and tears. The clear and practical advice offered here, then, will no doubt be much appreciated.
The author recommends that attention should be paid to the potential pastor’s preaching, shepherding responsibilities, character, theology, and attitude to practical issues. He then suggests ways of finding the right man, and adds a sample doctrinal statement, questions to be put to him, and a checklist concerning financial and other practical matters.
And yet . . . for all the book’s usefulness, in some respects it might have been even more helpful:
Firstly, it has obviously been written primarily with the American church scene in mind. Some sections – such as that outlining the varieties of American fundamentalism and evangelicalism – are not immediately relevant to other contexts. The eschatological position taught in the doctrinal statement is also more typical of American evangelicalism than its British counterpart.
Secondly, the author gives detailed attention to certain subjects – for example, expository preaching – regarding which he obviously feels strongly. However, he tends to get rather carried away by his concern for these subjects in themselves, at the expense of the main aim of the book.
Thirdly, although there is a healthy awareness of the danger of choosing a pastor on the basis of a couple of sermons preached during one weekend visit, more emphasis might have been placed on the importance of a congregation and a potential pastor knowing each other as fully as possible before any invitation is considered.
Fourthly, perhaps it was the choice of such words as ‘hiring’, ‘the candidate’, etc., but the overall approach smacked a little too much of making a professional appointment on the basis of appropriate qualifications and references.
Fifthly, the importance of prayer is acknowledged, but it does not receive the attention it surely deserves. Ticking the appropriate boxes is no doubt helpful in the case of both the church and the potential pastor, but seeking God’s will together should come first and foremost.
These matters notwithstanding, this book will be a valuable tool for churches seeking a pastor – and for potential pastors too.