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Some Things To Keep in Mind When Applying for a Senior Pastorate
By Louie Salazar
Our church recently completed an 18-month process of selecting a new senior pastor. Our former senior pastor was the founding pastor and had completed nearly 38 years of pastoral leadership when he announced his retirement. As the administrative pastor, I served our pastoral nominating committee as a resource person. My specific tasks were to do research as needed, conduct background checks, help write correspondence, and provide the technical support needed for the committee to do their job in an efficient and timely manner. As I looked back at the process and made notes, here are some “first hand” observations that might help candidates as they prayerfully prepare materials for search committees.
1. Spell check your documents. Have someone else proofread your resume and supporting materials and point out grammatical errors. There are many free or inexpensive templates for resumes on the Internet that can help you create professional looking documents. It was difficult for our committee to consider resumes that had multiple spelling and grammatical errors.
2. Do some research on the church you are applying for. In our case, we had a paragraph directed to potential candidates on the main page of our church Web site. The paragraph had a link to a history of our church and the specific materials we were looking for, as well as directions on how to submit a resume. In many cases it was obvious potential candidates did not know anything about our church or city, and had never looked at our church Web site. In addition to our church Web site, a simple Google search would have yielded a lot of information about our church, city, and area demographics.
3. Make sure your media works. Out of more than 60 resume packages, we had at least 10 sermon CDs or cassette tapes that did not work properly. Either the volume was too low, or there were obvious technical problems that prevented our committee from hearing the sermon. Our committee had committed to listen to every word of every sermon. It is a shame that some were eliminated because the media was defective.
4. Do not ask to come and pray in our sanctuary, drop by to meet our leaders, sit in on a Sunday service, or try to make personal contact before you are invited. Our committee was made up of nine church members from various age and experience backgrounds with very little experience in working on a search committee. They did not need the distraction of meeting any candidates before they were ready. This over-eagerness eliminated a couple of candidates, probably sooner than it should have. Many of the cover letters mentioned that the candidate was praying for our committee and for our church during this crucial transition. Our committee members appreciated this.
5. When you are asked for additional sermons or information, please respond in a reasonable time. More than once we were astounded to not hear any response from a candidate the committee was interested in.
Our new senior pastor has been in office for 7 months. We know God helped us find the right person. Sadly, some of the points mentioned above created distractions that quickly eliminated many of the potential candidates. These few observations may help you in your presentation to a church that is also seeking God for the right pastor.
Louie Salazar, FCBA, Chesterfield, Missouri