Pastor Search Checklist

A Seven-Stage Pastor Search Process


Prepare Stage

Develop and begin a strategic prayer emphasis for the season of transition between pastors.

Experience grief over the "loss" of the former pastor and begin to find healing and hope.

Conduct an exit interview with the former pastor if possible.

Celebrate the ministry of the former pastor.

Discuss the transition need with the district, association or denominational leadership.

Evaluate the health of the church and share the results with the congregations.

Evaluate and revise if needed the Mission, Vision and Values of the church.

Review the church Constitution and By-laws and make needed changes.

Conduct and review a Journey Wall and share the results with the leadership and congregation.

Prepare a flexible new pastor job description.

Approve a pastor search budget.

Decide on the need for an Interim Pastor and call one if needed.


Search Stage

Take a congregational survey to determine church needs and desired pastor characteristics.

Form, organize and commission a Pastor Search Team (PST).

Provide training and coaching for the PST.

Begin weekly meetings of the PST.

The PST provide weekly updates of search progress and prayer needs.

Survey the congregation for church needs and desires.

Prepare an ad for a Lead Pastor opening.

Decide on the sources ("fishing pools") for potential applicants and contact them with the ad.


Find Stage

Prepare a new pastor grid with prioritized new pastor characteristics, skills and gifts.

Develop a questionnaire and application for qualified applicants

Collect all applicant's resumes, applications and cover letters and file in a notebook.

Use the grid, questionnaire and application to rate all applicants (A,B, or C, or 1 – 5 scale).

Individually sort all applicants according to the scale.

If more applicants are needed or desired, expand the "fishing pools" and continue the search.

All applicants are contacted regularly regarding their status as applicants.


Select Stage

A special prayer focus is needed for this stage.

The PST meets to sort all applicants according to the scale.

The PST narrows the list by arriving first at the top 25 or 50.

The sorting continues down to thee top 10-12, then down to the top 3.

A second questionnaire is developed that is sent to the top 3.

The PST is trained in the use of behavioral interview methodology.

The top 3 will also provide a means to observe 2 or more sermons via electronic media

The PST may also personally visit the current church of an applicant and report back to the PST.

Primary and secondary references are requested by phone for the top 3 applicants.

Criminal and credit background checks are conducted with permission on the top applicants.

The PST decides what church and community information needs to be sent to the applicants.

The PST will also research the applicants' use of social media and networks.

Skype or other video interviews using the same 8-10 questions are conducted on the top 3.

The top applicant is selected and is invited to be a candidate for the position.

All other top applicants are informed of their status.


Candidate Stage

The PST plans and organizes a Candidating experience and shares it with the church.

The top candidate is invited to participate in the candidating experience at the church.

The candidate meets with key leadership and ministry teams.

The candidate is given the opportunity to preach, teach and lead a devotional or Bible study.

The candidate meets with other church staff.

An opportunity for a church-wide question and answer session with the candidate is given.

All expenses for the candidating experience including travel and lodging will be paid.

The church is given the opportunity to vote on calling the candidate.

In some denominations, approval may also need to be approved by a denominational leader.

The Church Chairman will contact the candidate about the outcome of the vote.

The candidate will be given the opportunity to respond.


Install Stage

If approved, a letter of call/employment agreement will be issued by the church board.

A special Installation Sunday will be planned and held to honor the new pastor and family.

Area churches may be invited to attend and publicly welcome the pastor or send a greeting.

A welcome gift from the church to the new pastor and family may be given.


Adjust Stage

The congregation will exercise biblical hospitality and provide fellowship for the pastor.

The church board unites around encouraging, honoring and protecting the new pastor.

The church board will also follow his leadership and sharing of the Word of God.

Regular, yearly evaluation will become a part of the church board-lead pastor relationship.

The congregation will make every effort to use biblical conflict management and resolution.

Church leadership shall annually review the new pastor's letter of call and job description.

The congregation will make every effort to honor the pastor's priority of God and his family.