Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of ministers about the Minister Hiring Process. For the most part, their reactions are something like, “I really appreciate what you are doing. This is something that the church has needed for a long time.” Many of them are speaking from the heart because they have been frustrated with what they have seen in their own job searches.
Understanding and addressing these frustrations could easily be what makes your congregation stand out to quality candidates who have other lines in the water, so we want to address a few of the most common frustrations and concerns that have been voiced to us.
Just as any professional would, a minister expects clarity in what will be expected of him or her. Unfortunately, what they get from many job descriptions is only a vague understanding of what they will be doing, what their compensation will be, what age groups they will be working with, etc. Why is that? Chances are, the congregation may not have a clear idea of these things either.
Effective planning should be top priority for search committees and elders who expect to locate and attract quality candidates. What would a candidate want to know before applying for your position? Clarifying these things up front and effectively communicating them to the search committee and to potential candidates is absolutely essential to a successful minister search.
Structure and Transparency
One of the most appreciated elements of our process is the structure and transparency it provides. There are set application deadlines, set meeting dates for the search committee, and the candidates know when they will be hearing from us again. It tells the candidate that your congregation is taking its search seriously.
Most of your candidates will have at some point experienced a disorganized search process where they could plainly see that the congregation did not have a clear agenda. The general attitude of minister searches is that of “We will wait it out until we’re happy with what we have.” It is a very frustrating thing for a minister to wait and wait and wait and not know where they stand. If your minister search has a structure that is clearly visible to all candidates, your finalists may be drawn to your congregation over others they may be considering simply because of your organization and transparency.
Lastly, confidentiality is crucial. If a candidate’s current congregation finds out second-hand that he or she is looking elsewhere, this could potentially create a very awkward and embarrassing situation for the candidate. The good news is that with the internet, you can get pretty much all the information you need from a candidate without putting their privacy at risk. Documents can be emailed, sermons can be uploaded, and interviews can be done remotely without anyone knowing about it except the candidate and your search committee.
For the finalists that you want to meet in person, bring them in for a private visit with your search committee rather than having them preach for your congregation on Sunday. You should already have sermon material from them if it is a pulpit minister search, so there is no need for a public audition. The visit is just to get to know the candidate better and to help the candidate decide whether he or she would want to live and work there. Since this can be accomplished in the matter of a day, the candidate can return to their duties on Sunday at their current congregation. Even if the search committee members find it necessary to visit the candidate’s current congregation after this, make sure that they do not do anything that would draw attention to the reason for their visit.
A good rule of thumb when searching for a minister is just to treat your candidates as you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. All the things I’ve mentioned above would be desired in any job search, not just ministry. Your candidates will be extremely appreciative when they can see this clarity, structure, and confidentiality in your search and hiring process.
Don't just take our word for it; see our testimonials here.