Discovery of Who You Are as a Church

[excerpt from The Pastoral Search Journey: A Guide to Finding Your Next Pastor]

The Importance of Determining Who You Are

One of the most important tasks which your pastoral search team will undertake is a self-study of the board, congregation, and ministries of the church. You will then use this to identify the church's strengths and weaknesses. This self-study is necessary in order to identify your church accurately to a prospective pastor. This should be done through an information gathering process managed by the search team, with consensus about the findings. The information you provide to pastors will make a definite statement of your focus, needs and priorities. Do not paint a false picture of who you are. Anything incorrect will surface when the pastor comes to be considered for a call, or after he accepts and finds things are not as rosy as the picture portrayed to him. Then he and the board will have to work through the issues. Remember that he will read your church packet, in the same way that you read his pastoral profile. As you read between the lines, so will he. As you are alert for "red flags", so is he. As you check references, so may he. Let your creative juices flow as you build your church packet and make a church video, be both complete and realistic.

Sample questions to ask in determining who you are:

  • What is unique about our identity as a congregation?
  • What is unique about our opportunities for ministry?
  • What challenges can we offer to a pastor?
  • What in our past is especially useful in looking ahead at new challenges?
  • What is our vision and our mission and does our congregation own them?
  • What core values form our ministries?
  • What is our view on outreach and do our actions support this view?
  • What ministries need to be started or developed more fully?
  • What would we anticipate as our needs over the next five years?
  • Is our church willing to learn and follow the leadership of a new pastor?
  • What professional qualities and attributes are we looking for in a pastor?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our congregation?
  • Do we convey an openness to change?