Hiring the right candidates for a pastor jobs (senior pastor, associate pastor, youth pastor, worship pastors, children’s pastor, etc.) is of critical importance for the health of a church.  Nothing can bring division in your church more quickly than choosing the wrong person for a pastor. By following proven strategies, however, you can be more confident that you will hire the right person for your pastor openings.

Here are twelve strategies your church can use in the hiring process:

  1. Form a Search Team
  2. Don’t Rush
  3. Pray
  4. Conduct a Church and Community Survey
  5. Create a Position Profile for the Pastor Opening
  6. Search Within the Church
  7. Post the opening at ChurchJobsOnline.com, PastorJobs.net and ChristianCareerCenter.com
  8. Conduct a Thorough Interview Process
  9. Offer the Job
  10. Provide Feedback
  11. Help the New Pastor to Induct Successfully
  12. Document your Steps


  1. Form a Search Team

For most churches a first step in calling a new pastor will be putting together a pastor search committee or search team.  Depending on your church size and culture, good practices for search teams include a good representation of your church (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.), keeping the number of your team at 10 or less, and focusing the team on the other steps outlined below.

  1. Don’t Rush

One of the most important things you can do is take your time. Most churches have a system in place where an associate pastor or someone else in higher leadership can fill in while the search is being conducted.  In his article How to Hire Church Staff with Integrity, Honesty, and Liability, Daniel Threlfall says, “it’s better to be without a key position than to have a totally unqualified person in such a position.”

Searching for the right candidate takes time.  For example, it has been estimated that for Youth Pastors and Worship Pastors positions it can take three or more months to fill the openings.  Senior Pastor positions can take 12 months or more to call the right candidate. Not rushing the process will help the church to more effectively plan and follow God’s lead in calling the right pastor.

  1. Pray

As Christians, we can be so determined to get the pastor job filled that we may forget to spend enough time asking God for guidance. We need to remind ourselves that prayer is the most critical ingredient in the entire process. Devoting ourselves to prayer is what Jesus modeled for us, and what the church leadership needs to model for the congregation. It’s very important to make sure the body of the church is included as much as possible in this process, as well, and this is the best way to start that process with them.

  1. Conduct a Church and Community Survey

This self-study is designed to determine what kind of church you are and the needs of your community. This is where asking the right questions can help your church to find the right candidates. Here are some possible questions your search committee to use in surveying your church and community:

What is our church mission? 

What are our values and priorities? 

What type of leadership do we need from this pastor role?

What is our vision for the future? 

What are the skills, spiritual gifts, personality traits and values that are needed for the pastor opening?

  1. Create a Position Profile for the Pastor Opening

Your work from the survey will be crucial for determining the skills, experience, and qualities the right person needs to have to be successful. Make a list. Many pastor jobs online fail to do this. Jim Baker gives a great example of this in his article Ten Steps You Must Follow in Hiring Church Staff. He says this is “arguably the most critical, yet most frequently neglected step.” This can include the following areas:



Spiritual Gifts

Transferable and Personal Skills

Personality Traits


Education and Training


The position profile should be coupled with a job description of the pastor job, to give the candidates a full picture of what it is you’re looking for so they can assess whether their skills match up before they apply. Putting thought into these two things, in the beginning, will save you a lot of work later.

  1. Search Within the Church

It may sound too easy, but sometimes the answer to your prayers is sitting in your congregation. Again, it could be easy to rush and pick someone from your church because you know them, their personality and how they work with the people. However, you could be missing a big opportunity to rejuvenate your church by focusing your search on those from the outside; so again, don’t rush. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Consider the possibility that the right person may be someone you already know.

  1. Post the opening at ChurchJobsOnline.com, PastorJobs.net and ChristianCareerCenter.com

A good strategy to use—even if you are considering an individual inside of the church—is to post your pastor jobs on Internet job boards that are focused on church and pastor staffing. Take the position profile and job description and craft a job posting that you can publish. Be sure to describe what you’re looking for in the right candidate. If your church has a special area of focus describe this in the posting. This will help candidates to know if the church job is a good fit for them. The more specific you are, the better your chances are of finding the right person for your pastor jobs.

As a division of ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com provides a simple and effective way for your church to find quality candidates.  It receives thousands of visitors each month with traffic coming from some of the largest Christian sites including Crosswalk.com, CBN.com and many others. Your featured pastor job postings will be posted at PastorJobs.net and some of the largest sites on the Internet for no additional cost (Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruter, LinkedIn and others).  Also, featured job postings are featured in the ChristianCareerCenter.com newsletter sent to over 35,000 subscribers.   

Posting pastor job openings on these sites can help you fill positions with qualified candidates faster.

  1. Conduct a Thorough Interview Process

One model for the interviewing process is to break it down into three separate interviews. One interview may be with the church board and leadership to get a feel for the person. Next, if you are in agreement, you can discuss the next step of inviting a pastor candidate to your church where they can preach a sermon if that is part of the job or plan an event if the job is for a youth pastor or children’s pastor.  Observing candidates as they interact with the congregation can give you a good idea of how well they will fit.

For the last interview, you can invite the applicant to come to a less formal event like a meal or a get together at a staff member’s house. This provides you with an opportunity to see how they function in a more casual environment. 

  1. Offer the Job

Now that you’ve interviewed the candidates thoroughly, it’s time to make your choice. As discussed earlier, prayer is important in the decision-making process. When you are confident in your choice and the leadership and congregation agree, you should offer the pastor candidate the position with a formal letter. The letter should also include all pertinent information about the position, such as salary and benefits. Once they sign and accept, you are ready to begin the new journey of helping your new pastor to integrate into your church.

  1. Provide Feedback

During the initial weeks of a new pastor’s employment, regular feedback for your new pastor is important. Get feedback from all the board members and those in leadership. Allow them to be completely open to their feelings and thoughts. And remember, you can never satisfy everyone. Take the comments and feedback given along with your own observations and share appropriately with your new pastor.  Provide any constructive feedback and training, if needed, to help the new pastor be successful.

  1. Help the New Pastor to Induct Successfully

Prior to the new pastor’s first day, develop a plan for orientation to the church, its people and the job. Think through what they need to know to do their job well at your church (where supplies are kept, who the key people are to assist them in their role, upcoming church events, etc.). If you are hiring someone to fill a higher role than they have previously held, create a plan to train and mentor them until they become comfortable in the position.

Also, have a plan for how you will introduce the individual to any staff they have not met previously and to the church body. Express enthusiasm at their arrival, and make them feel welcomed. In addition, make sure you cover the practical parts of their new job such as orienting them to the building, getting them the keys, showing them where to park, etc. Answer any questions they have. Practice hospitality with your new hire! 

  1. Document Your Steps

Use these strategies and what has been successful at your church in the past to develop a documented process that works for your church. Following the same steps with each candidate will help ensure a fair hiring process, and increase the likelihood of making the best choice for the new addition to your church staff. You will learn more each time you go through the process which can be added to the document. The result will be a valuable tool that you—and those who follow you—can use at your church to find just the right pastors and church staff.


Church Staffing Search Firm

If after reviewing these steps you feel that it may be best to explore using a church staffing search firm who can do much of this work for you, we invite you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation  with a staff member at Chemistry Staffing.  During this time, they will learn more about your church, what you are looking for in a new pastor and how they can provide you with the right candidates to hire.


© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, ChristianCareerCenter.comChurchJobsOnline.com, and ChristianJobFair.com.  All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.




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