4 Easy Steps To Effectively Communicate Your Pastor Search
By: Holly Tate
If you're feeling overwhelmed in your pastor search process, you're not alone. Whether you are a pastor search committee member or a church staff member, the pastor search process is hard. We know because we help churches of all sizes and backgrounds navigate the search process on a daily basis.
One of first things you should do before you launch your search process is establish a communication strategy. The communication strategy will look different for each church's unique transition. If you're dealing with a moral failure or a grieving period at your church, your plan is going to look different from a church facing its pastor's retirement succession plan. However, there are helpful steps that every church should take in making sure their pastoral transition is properly communicated to its church community.
1. Create a Dedicated Landing Page on Your Church’s Website.
Your church should already have an employment section on your website where you post job opportunities and information on how potential candidates can apply to work with your church. Our client Hill Country Bible Church has an excellent employment page on their website where they describe their church staff's culture, a brief yet thorough description of each of the open positions, and specific action steps for candidates who are interested in applying.
When communicating to your church about a senior leadership transition, create an additional landing page dedicated to updating your community about the search process. Once your church leadership team has decided to move forward with the pastor search, the first thing you should do is set up a meeting with your web team about developing a dedicated landing page for the search. If you don't have a web team, consider asking a member of a church community who is experienced in simple web development or blogging to help you set up a platform to keep your church updated online about the pastor search process.
Make the landing page easy to find. We were honored to help Cherry Hills Community Church with their succession plan. They have created an excellent landing page describing their pastoral search. On the front page of the church’s website, they have a box titled “Senior Pastor Transition,” which is very easy to find and leads the reader to the landing page with all the info on their pastor search.
Just as Cherry Hills Community Church has done here, Include information about the search committee, the search firm you’re using, and timeline expectations. Your members want to be informed on the search process. Having an updated landing page with answers to frequently asked questions will help alleviate the influx of questions your church staff and pastor search committee may receive upon the announcement of the pastor search.
2. Record and Post a Video of the Outgoing Pastor’s Announcement.
We were honored to partner with Vineyard Cincinnati on Senior Pastor Dave Workman’s succession plan. Vineyard has an excellent landing page including information about their pastor search. Vineyard recorded Pastor Dave’s announcement of his transition plan and posted it on the website. Posting a video announcement is a helpful way to help your church community process the transition that is taking place. Pastoral transitions are difficult for church members, and allowing them to hear the announcement directly from the pastor will lessen the confusion and hear-say that can often follow a pastor's transition announcement. Pastor Dave also writes about his succession plan on his personal blog, which is one of the most effective ways pastors can communicate with your church community about their own transition process.
3. Be Consistent.
Once you have your landing page set up, ensure that it is updated consistently. It is frustrating to church members when they are trying to find out information about the pastor search process and find an outdated page. Be sure it is one person's responsibility either on the pastor search committee or church staff to keep the website updated.
Our client Montgomery Community Church created a video update for their church community which featured members of their search committee and Jeff Bigelow, Montgomery Community Church's Vanderbloemen Executive Search Consultant.
4. Have a Communication Plan.
It is vital to the long-term health of your church that both your church staff and your church community know who to contact for information regarding the pastor search process. Make sure that everyone knows the URL where the job description can be found, the email address where candidates' resumes can be sent, and who to contact for questions and concerns regarding the search. Include this information on your pastor search landing page so that inquirers have clear direction on where to find answers. The last thing you want is for several people to be running point and mixed answers to be given, which will cause confusion for all parties involved.
These are just four simple steps for your pastor search committee to consider when beginning your pastor search.
What other steps has your church taken to ensure an effective communication strategy for your pastor search?