Posted on : Monday November 26, 2012

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

ELDERSBURG, Md.—Sometimes a church is expecting it. Other times, they’re stunned, but no matter how the news is received, it’s always traumatic when a pastor announces his resignation.

The church organizes the “farewell” party and pastoral roles are assumed by lay leaders or other ministers.

In an effort to quickly find a replacement, leaders quickly gather to form a pulpit committee or pastor search team. They’re well-intentioned, but oftentimes, completely unprepared for the task ahead.

“The team chosen by a local church to secure the next pastor of that church has one of the most crucially important roles that could be given. Simultaneously, search teams are often the least equipped to execute this task,” writes Joel Rainey in his book, “Side Stepping Landmines—Five Principles for Pastor Search Teams.”

Rainey is Mid-Maryland Baptist Association’s director of missions and has worked with many churches seeking pastors. He has served churches as a transitional pastor, and he knows the pain churches experience during the difficult transition periods. Rainey saw many churches step on harmful “landmines” while trying to make what they felt were godly decisions when choosing a pastor. He took that experience and warns of pitfalls to avoid.

“Side-Stepping Landmines” is a short, easy read, but provides great specific useful guidelines for church search teams.

The book covers information including confidentiality and communication; developing a process and learning how to use it properly, asking the right questions, and the danger of assumptions. Church leaders will especially appreciated the specific suggested questions to ask potential candidates.

Above all, Rainey stresses the need to hire the “right” candidate and not necessarily the “best” candidate.

The book is available in a paperback edition for $6.99, or on a Kindle  edition for $3.99 on