A Bible-Based Pastoral Search Process

In 1 Samuel 16, God laid out a blueprint for choosing the leader for His people. In this scriptural account, the Prophet Samuel travels to the house of Jesse to carry out a process for “finding” a king to succeed Saul. Interestingly enough, the process was actually not for God to show Samuel how to choose a King. It was actually the process for God to let Samuel know who He had already chosen. That is the very first thing that a Pastoral Search Committee has to remember. You are actually not on a mission to find a new pastor. Your responsibility is to uncover the pastor that God has already selected.

In fact, committees and committee members frequently interject themselves into the process too much. In the text of 1 Samuel 16, we are told that Samuel looked on Jesse’s son, Eliab, and concluded that surely, the one the Lord had anointed was before him. …but Samuel was wrong. His flawed human nature caused him to be drawn to the “kingly-looking” son of Jesse. God corrected Samuel and explained that he was using the wrong criteria by considering the man’s outward appearance, but God explained that He looks at a man’s heart.

Unfortunately, in many churches, despite this blueprint, the pastoral search process has become more like Samuel’s “guesswork” than God’s appointment. As a result, too many churches are finding pastors based on “outside appearance” criteria and they are finding it necessary to search for new pastors far too frequently. Conversely, God’s voice is heard far too infrequently because the church exercises it’s free-will too frequently by doing what seems right unto a man.

No one in your church should be a pastoral search expert. This is not a process that any church wants to consider itself “experienced”. Ideally, your church body and your pastor will be celebrating pastoral anniversaries for many, many years to come. No one should have to remember enough about the previous pastoral search process to be able to lend their “expertise” to a new search. So, we can be your experts. And when you need us we can lead you through the process in an orderly fashion.

The process in 1 Samuel 16 was designed to disclose the heart of the candidates and to hear the voice of God.
Resumes and cover letters are necessary but understand that they merely reveal “outside appearances”. We are interjecting a new innovation in the process: Video introductions. Each candidate will be required to have a video introduction in addition to a sermon video. Likewise, each Search Committee will also introduce itself with a video introduction. The idea is to allow you both to understand more about the other’s heart so you can all more accurately hear the voice of God.

About the author 

Rev. John W. Woodall, Jr.

Pastor John W. Woodall, Jr. is the pastor of South Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is also the founder and creator of PastorsForBlackChurches.com. He is a graduate of the Ball State University (Bachelors of Science), the Ball State University Graduate School of Business (Master of Business Administration), and the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis (Doctor of Jurisprudence).

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