3 Common Mistakes Churches Make During the Search Process

Common Mistakes During the Search Process

Here at Vanderbloemen, we work with churches big and small, of all different denominations, theological positions, and backgrounds. However, one thing every church has in common is that the process of finding a new church staff member is not easy. Whether it is a Senior Pastor or a Children's Pastor, each role is crucial to reaching the church's mission.

When faced with the pressure of hiring the right person, we have found a few common mistakes that tend to surface throughout the search process. Here are three common missteps that we want to help you avoid the next time your church is hiring a new staff member.

1. Failing to Follow up With Every Candidate

The biggest mistake churches make during the search process is not taking the time to follow up with candidates. Communication is crucial and a sign of respect for candidates throughout the search process. Whether you are moving forward in the interview process or not with the candidate, it is a courtesy to email updates along the way so that candidates can know where they are in the process.

Remember that candidates are assessing you as a potential place of employment as much as you are assessing them as a potential staff member. If you are not responsive and respectful throughout the search process, it reflects poorly on you as an organization and may affect your ability to attract high capacity candidates.

If you are partnering with a search firm throughout your search process, take the time to talk with the candidates that the search firm presents to you. A good search firm will have thoroughly searched for qualified candidates and taken the time to interview them face-to-face before bringing them to you for your consideration. They should be investing significant time and resources into getting to know the candidate beyond their resume through phone, video, and in-person interviews.

It is difficult to gauge a candidate’s fit until you actually speak with them. You might be limiting your options and might be missing out on who God is calling to your church by not having conversations with your final candidates. 

2. Taking Too Long to Reach Out to (and Interview) Candidates

The hiring process is a critical time in a church’s life. Hiring new staff is not to be taken lightly – especially in key leadership roles. However, the fear of hiring the wrong person can often get in the way of taking the critical step of conducting face-to-face interviews with candidates.

If you find your hiring committee stalled on a candidate's resume, schedule a phone interview to gather more information beyond their resume. Candidates that you may be unsure of on paper might shine in an interview.

We have found that the number one reason churches lose out on their top candidate is because they waited too long to begin the interview process. Pastors that are high capacity leaders and might be in high demand may have accepted a new position before a church ever gets around to scheduling an interview.


3. Failing to Trust That God is Part of the Process

Emotions can run high during the search process. Presentations are like Christmas morning, full of eager anticipation and high hopes. Inevitably, however, these feelings are followed by those a child has the day after Christmas, where all she can think about is the presents she didn’t find under the tree. We encourage you to enter into conversations with candidates trusting that God has led you to each other for a reason. We consistently remind ourselves to trust that God is in this process with us, and we want you to do the same.

We constantly thank our clients and the pastors we work with during a search for allowing us into such a sacred space. We know how hiring decisions are important, and that much discernment goes with them.

By avoiding these three pitfalls, a search can transform from one of disappointment and unmet expectations to elation and joy.

What are some mistakes you've learned from in your experience? What are some best practices that you've found helpful during a search?

Pastor Search Committee Member Agreement Template