5 Questions Your Pastor Search Committee Should Ask Your Church Staff


Before launching into hiring a new Senior Pastor, it is a smart idea for pastor search committees to take an assessment of the views and opinions of the church staff members. The church staff members are a valuable resource to any search committee and a wealth of information to those who are wise enough to listen to their viewpoints. Church staff members are on the frontlines of ministry daily, and they were the ones who interacted closely with the outgoing Pastor. Therefore, they should be the people working closely with the pastor search committee for your new pastoral hire.

Below are five questions for pastor search committees to ask the church staff. You can do this in one of two ways: First, your search committee could host a small staff meeting to discuss the questions, making sure everyone’s voice gets heard. For situations with larger church staff groups, I recommend that you set up an online survey where the church team can write narrative answers to the following questions for your future review.

The following are five questions I have found helpful in my experience in working with numerous pastor search committees.

1. In your opinion, what brings people to the church, and what keeps them coming back?

We all look at the church through our own lens. This question and the variety of answers can help you see what the staff value and what they hear from the people active in their ministry areas. A pastor search committee has the incredibly important task of representing the vision and mission of the church, which includes the “wow” factor that brings attendees back every week.

It is crucial to your pastor search to seek the insight of church staff members on what they believe are the key aspects of your church and what to look for in a new staff member. This will ensure a smooth transition for your new Pastor and a quick church alignment with the new role being filled.

2. If you could think ahead two years, what do you hope would be different/expanded/changed in the church?

This question can be tricky if there is any hurt or organizational dysfunction within the church staff. Be mindful to look for broad answers here and not personal pain points or agendas. It may be a good idea to speak with each church staff member individually, as to ensure that each conversation is as honest as possible and to avoid any hurt feelings or tension among your church staff.

While it may be a rough subject to discuss, having clear communication between your pastor search committee and church staff team will always prove to be the most productive and efficient means of conducting a pastor search.

Search: The Pastor Search Committee Handbook

3. What would make the new Senior Pastor successful in the eyes of the congregation? In the eyes of the staff?

This is one question where there should be some unity in answers. Generally, a well-functioning staff will have a finger on the pulse of the congregation’s needs and feelings as well as the thoughts and feelings of the collective staff.

A great church staff team can anticipate the pastoral needs of its congregation. Tweet: A great church staff team can anticipate the pastoral needs of its congregation. https://bit.ly/1kDTldG via @VanderbloemenSG

As a pastor search committee, it is your job to determine who is the best new leader for your congregation. When taking this into account, this question becomes increasingly more vital to determining the best fit for your church staff team.

4. What does someone need to know in their first 90 days as the new leader that you wouldn’t know unless you had been here a year?

All staffs, whether non-profit or for-profit, corporate or ministry, have their own unique culture. Unwritten rules and office internal dialog can often be a major stumbling block for new staff members to navigate.

Helping new employees engage with the culture early on can aid in a smoother transition. Tweet: Helping new employees engage with the culture early on can aid in a smoother transition. https://bit.ly/1kDTldG via @VanderbloemenSG

There may be subconscious cultural norms that your church staff embraces, and it is the pastor search committee’s job to find out and be aware of them. This could mean the difference between a bad hire and finding the perfect fit for your church. What can you learn about the staff culture of the church that can help you in your pastor search process?

5. What are the biggest challenges you see for a new Pastor? How can we help during this transition to prepare for those challenges?

Above any of the previous questions, this is the most important for your pastor search committee to ask, and the answers should be taken very seriously. If there is one thing you can do to set your new pastor up for success it is probably found in the answers you will receive here. Listen well and if needed ask follow up questions to the people who speak into this question. Your new pastor’s success is counting on it.

In preparation for your new pastor search process, engage your staff and utilize the answers to these five questions. Your search committee will be able to set up realistic expectations for a successful search process.

What other questions have you found helpful to ask your church staff to aid in your pastor search?

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