By: Rev Ed Schneider, M.P.Th.
Recently I had an ethical dilemma concerning one important aspect of how a potential pastoral candidate and a church’s search team interacts. The dilemma involved how to assist a search team to self-discover a particular type of bias that can, and often does, tangibly hinder a successful search for the right person, at the right church and at the right time.
What am I referring to? Before I answer that, let me share a few important statistics.
Over the last 20 years the average stay of a pastor has drastically fallen to approximately 4 years.
In the last decade or so, when a church defines itself as a successful ministry something remarkable comes to light. The average successful church has a pastor that stays approximately 6.5-7 years.
More than 1,000 clergy/pastors will quit (not retire) their church’s leadership position every year.
The answer to my question will be obvious in just a moment. Be patient.
Here is an experiment that will illustrate my concern.
An applicant for a lead pastor’s position has the following verifiable characteristics and credentials. After reviewing, would you be interested in “calling” the person as your next pastor? Why or why not?
Strongest Behaviors Include…
• Daring, focuses on future goals, adaptable, and flexible
• Makes decisions and takes action
• Innovative and generates novel ideas
• Proactive, assertive and undaunted by failure
• Responds positively and actively to challenging circumstances
• Delegates freely, thinks strategically and is an animated communicator
Management Style Includes…
• Eagerly discusses ideas with others and enjoys the process
• Broadly focused and competitive
• Constantly looking to improve performance
• An influential and inspirational leader
• Encourages others to look for new ideas and methods to improve
• Relentless in the pursuit of creativity and desired outcomes
Influencing Style Includes…
• Authoritative and enthusiastic
• Comfortable thinking on his/her feet and quickly removes barriers that hinder success
• Strong at gaining agreement
• Is highly flexible and ingenious in effectively communicating with others to successfully produce results.
Religious Foundations Include…
• Devout and committed Christian servant
• Ordained with two seminary degrees
• Prior successful pastoral experience
• Respected Christian educator and preacher