20 Questions for Prospective Pastors to Ask of their Prospective Churches
This is the first of an occasional series about the sometimes awkward interchange between churches seeking shepherds and shepherds seeking flocks.
To be certain, there are many other areas that should be addressed. These include the arenas of doctrine, staff relationships, and the leading of the Spirit of God to call a man to the work. Also, the present way many churches seek a pastor whether it is a “beauty contest” with multiple preachers presented before one is considered, or the “few services and vote” approach, I strongly suggest there is a much better alternative to either of these.
I chose these 20 questions for their necessary information, but also the discussions they will foster. In one sense, they are many of the stumbling block areas that have caused many a pastor to move continuously from one bad experience to another more “hopeful one.” In another sense, these questions should help existing leadership take inventory of their mission and hopefully being to foment a deeply felt need for prayer and church wide revival. So, with the disclaimers above that there is more to be discussed than these initial questions, here they are. (Obviously, I am approaching this from a conservative Biblical position and a Baptist local church polity.)
(I would probably email them to pulpit committee and ask for them to be returned so you can review ahead of time.)
- How is the church doing?
- Evangelistically – How many conversions, baptisms, etc. for the last 3 years?
- Financially – What is the weekly, yearly budget? Are they over budget, under? What is the average giving per attendee? Please include the last 3 years of financial statements.
- Emotionally – How is the church doing as far as vision, hope, outlook for the future?
- Environmentally – How is the community growing? What is the average income? How many new homes, people moving into the area, jobs, etc.? What is the crime rate? What is the church’s reputation in the community? What is the makeup demographically for 5 miles around the church?
- Spiritually – How are the families in the church doing? Are only a few people doing most of the tasks? Is there corporate prayer?
- Legally – Any property disputes? Lawsuits? Insurance issues?
- What am I expected to do (I will do much more than asked, but what is the expectation)? What are the expectations for my wife?
- What areas have the last pastors been criticized for? Why?
- Who is the biggest problem(s) person in the church? Have they been talked to, disciplined? Why or why not?
- What goals for the ministry over the last 10 years have been achieved? (Please be specific)
- What will constitute a good first year for me? A successful 2nd year? A 5th year?
- Please list out the ages for the attendees for a normal Sunday. (i.e. how many 0-5, 6-10, 11-18, 19-25, 26-40, 41-60, 61-70, 71-)
- How many married couples regularly attend?
- How many of these have children at home?
- How is the church prepared to follow my leadership in light of my youth/age/health and experience?
- What is the drawing factor for the church? Why do people chose to attend here?
- How closely does the church follow its documents, constitution, etc.?
- Who does the hiring and firing?
- How will the church leadership handle objections to my leadership? Will there be gossip, slander or will Matthew 18 be followed? How has it been handled in the past?
- Are there people who are Charismatic/Pentecostal in leadership? Attendance?
- What is the normal style of worship music in the services?
- What have been the qualifications of teaching/leadership?
- How is business conducted? In the last 5 years, have there been any ugly business meetings? How was it handled?
- Are there any members and/or “leaders” who should be experiencing church discipline or are currently having Biblical church discipline exercised against them?
- How long are the members of the pulpit committee planning on being at the church? How are they involved in carrying out the mission of the church?
- In a sentence, please answer the following question. “Our church’s greatest need is _______________.” Please follow up with why this is so.
- How long does the church desire for me to stay? What will you and your families do to help achieve that outcome?