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7 Points for Pastoral Interviews
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By Doug Bing
 
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In the old days pastoral placement was a top-down operation. Decisions were made in personnel committee meetings and announced to the pastor over the phone or at camp meeting. The first time the local congregation met their new pastor would be the Sabbath the conference official showed up to make a formal introduction.
 
Obviously things have changed! While every conference has their own process, most pastoral placement protocols provide for an interview between the pastor candidate and the search committee. Here are seven things I think will help you to interview well:
 
1.   Go only if you are sincerely interested. If after prayerfully considering the position you feel God may be calling, take a closer look. Do the interview. Don’t waste your time and the church’s time/money if you are not sincerely interested.
 
2.   Do your research. Check out the church. Look over the community demographics. Look at the church website and see what the church is doing. Find out if the church has a mission statement and a clearly defined set of goals. Ask the conference administration what the calling church is looking for in their new pastor. See if the church has debt. Put your finger on the spiritual pulse of the church. Identify their focus in outreach. Compare their attendance numbers with their membership numbers. Do your research.
 
3.   Keep your interview answers spiritually focused. Even when answering questions about the overall operations of the church, keep your answers gospel commission focused.
 
4.   Be honest about your gifts and talents. Share your strengths with the confidence that God has given you those gifts and you only wish to use them for His glory. Share your weaknesses as well, and encourage them to provide ministry partners to help strengthen the life and ministry of the church.
 
5.   Use your research in the interview. It is good to let the search committee know what you have learned about them. Share with them what you have noticed and let them verify and clarify that information. It is also a good idea to see how their self-perception and your research compare.
 
6.   Ask your own questions. Many times the questions you will ask the search committee will reveal more to them about who you are and your ministry focus than the questions they ask you. Ask them questions about their church mission, funding for outreach, funding for children’s ministries, funding for Christian education. Ask them questions about the personal involvement of members in the ministry of the church.
 
7.   Be willing to relax and laugh. You are human. Be willing to let them see that you are authentic. Let them see that you are willing to enter their world and share life with them.
 
The pastoral placement process in most conferences today involve a three-way conversation between the church, the conference administration, and the pastoral candidate – all under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I hope that these practical points will help you to interview well, to clearly identify God’s call, and to serve well in your new church community.
 
Doug Bing is vice-president for administration in the Washington Conference