Ken Stalls, BCM/D President and Pastor of South End Baptist Church
As our church is beginning in the process for seeking God’s choice for an associate pastor, I was recently reading through some online listings for churches in a similar position. Some of the ads were rather amazing to say the least. One ad for a church seeking a senior pastor particularly caught my attention. Without trying to give you a verbatim repeat of the listing, hear some of what they were looking for and requiring.
The ad began with the sharing of “Non-negotiable.” The candidate must have a “CEO mindset for ministry leadership.” I began to think about that one and the thought that I could not escape is that most CEO’s have very little contact with the rank and file employees. They focus on the leadership team, and they have NO contact with the “customers or clients.” The ad went on to require a “New York/Northeastern” background and basic philosophy of life. I am not sure what that entails and I am quite sure that I am not interested to know. Ten to 20 years of experience as a senior pastor of a church of likeness to our own. This was particularly interesting considering that they would not consider anyone over 45 years of age. On down in the ad, they went on to require that the senior pastor would be the HR (Human Resources) administrator for the church. I did not think that said much for congregational involvement in the process, but what do I know? Finally, the ad closes with the requirement that the senior pastor would also be the “Facilities Manager” for the church property and grounds. This is going to be a very busy pastor, but is he really going to be doing the things that God expects?
You might be saying to yourself, “Well, this is just an extreme example of such an advertisement.” You may be correct, but it is amazing what churches seem to be looking for these days. Oh, and by the way, nowhere did that ad mention that the “candidate” needed to be Christian or called to the pastoral ministry. Was that just assumed? I have no idea, but why would it not be stated in such a long and extensive advertisement?
To me, the first thing we should seek, after stating the obvious from the preceding paragraph, would be “What is the will of God in this search process?” We are very impressed with a leader’s technical skills with computers often more than we seem concerned with how they believe and approach the Word of God. We are very inquisitive about a pastor’s leadership and administrative style, but seldom seem that concerned about how obedient the man is to God’s leadership. We want to know every top selling book that they have read and which author they prefer and pattern their ministry after while never even asking how much time they spend daily reading God’s Word and how healthy and consistent their devotional life is. It seems that we are asking the wrong questions and demanding many of the wrong “requirements.”
I know it is not new to any of you, but just exactly what does God’s Word say about requirements for a pastor/elder? This is from I Timothy 3:1-7. “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”
Seems this is a little different from most ads that I have seen. I pray that our church and all of our sister churches will be much more careful in seeking staff for our churches. If we want God’s blessing upon our church, we must seek and follow God’s will first and foremost.
Have a blessed and productive life for our Lord and Savior. Thanks for the privilege of serving as president of our great convention and of being your friend.