10 questions I would ask a search committee...
...or maybe sets of questions:
- (Regarding church description) Describe the church to us; if you were describing the church to an out of town visitor, what would be the key elements that you would include in your description? What are the various ministries of the church, and how would you characterize them? Is the church currently in a growth trend, and if so how is that growth affecting what goes on in the day-to-day ministries of the church? Has the church seen growth primarily by transfer of membership, or by conversion (and how many conversions has she seen in the last year)? Give a brief description of each of the following ministries in the church, and how they are overseen: small group ministry, women’s ministry, evangelism ministry, discipleship ministry (if separate from small group).
- (Regarding community) How is this church engaged in encouraging fellowship through inter-generational relationships? How is she engaged in encouraging fellowship through cooperation and co-ministry with sister churches in the area?
- (Regarding current/former Pastor(s)) What strengths and values were sought in the calling of the current/former pastor? How does/did he relate to other staff members—as members of his flock, co-laborers/partners in ministry, etc.? How involved in leadership and activities is/was his wife? Does/did he and his family socialize generally within or outside the church?
- (Regarding the Session and Diaconate) What does the Session see as its primary duties? What does the Diaconate see as its primary duties? How often are Ruling Elders and Deacons rotated, and how many terms are they expected to serve? What is the general attitude of Ruling Elders or Deacons who are not active on the Session/Diaconate? What is the process for training and preparing new Ruling Elders and Deacons?
- (Regarding other leadership/administration) Is there a committee system in place– if so, how does it work, what relationship does it have with the Session/Diaconate, what does it do that could not be done otherwise? What sort of support staff does the church have? How does the church budget work, and who develops it? How often are staff performance and salary evaluations done, and by whom?
- (Regarding general philosophy of ministry) What are the areas of ministry that have really shined in this church? What areas of ministry have had particular struggles? What are the areas of ministry that you believe should get the primary focus from the Pastor? What areas of ministry should be handled by volunteer leadership?
- (Regarding particular ministries) What are the particulars of the focused ministries of this church (children’s, youth, college, singles, women’s, elderly, small groups, evangelism, other)? What are the histories of each of these ministries? What are the hopes and expectations that the congregation has for them? What consideration has been given for staffing of these ministries—are they typically staff-led or volunteer-led, and how might that change?
- (Regarding church finances) What is the annual budget of the church? Who makes the decisions for the budgeting process? How have budgeting trends changed over the past 5-20 years? How have the stayed the same? What are the church’s policies/methods for major expenses, such as building projects? What significant expenses do you anticipate this church facing over the next five years?
- (Regarding pay package) What is the current or expected salary package for the Pastor? How does it include or exclude the following: housing, health insurance, retirement savings, vacation, continuing education/study leave, sabbatical, ministry-related expense reimbursement? How often will consideration be given to raises and cost-of-living increases? Will some type of performance review be given on a regular basis?
- (Regarding Pastor’s family matters) What sort of housing would be appropriate for the Pastor– what neighborhoods, proximity to the church, etc.? What sort of expectations are there for the Pastor’s wife? What roles have the wives of other Pastors and staff members taken?