by Bob Dasal
I grew up in a church that was congregational in polity. Final decisions were made by the local congregation, and not by an elder board or through a hierarchy, like a bishop, outside the local church. When there was a pastoral vacancy the church set in motion the process of "calling" a new pastor. Churches that have a different polity also have a process to fill a pastoral vacancy. Words used for addressing this need included "filling the pulpit" or "calling a pastor."
It seems things have changed over the last twenty-five years. In the past few months I've heard a number of churches talk about "hiring" a new pastor. The first concern seems to be not who is God's man for the church at this time, but who can we hire that will do a good job according to today's view of what a successful church should be. On the list of things needed to hire a new preacher are certain educational requirements and a track record of successfully running a church program. The process also includes a number of investigative processes to make sure the pastoral candidate doesn't have a police record, an outstanding arrest warrant, or credit problems.
My point is to make sure we don't get the cart before the horse. If the goal is to "hire" someone rather than "calling" God's man, the focus is wrong. If young preachers coming out the seminaries are looking for big churches to hire them the focus is wrong. Churches that have "hirelings" are destined to have major problems. Churches that believe God leads them in calling a pastor (undershepherd) are more likely to find themselves effectively doing the work of the ministry. If a God-called pastor and a church, made up of diverse people, can lovingly relate to one another and focus on reaching beyond themselves to serve the Lord by serving others, they are fulfilling God's purpose for His church.
We would be interested in your thoughts on the church and how pastors are selected. What is your view on being a God-called pastor? To contact us write to the Editorial Staff, Pulpit Helps Magazine, 6805 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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