Monday, July 13, 2009

Questions to ask before taking a pastoral call

Some Questions to Consider
Taking a Call

The History about the Church
1. What is the history of the church? Relatively positive and a good indicator
of its biblical nature?

2. Any demographic material about the community and church which might
be helpful?
a. Is this a growing or declining city?
b. What is the potential rate of growth?
c. What is the economic health of the city? Of the congregation?
d. What can I learn about the ethnic mix of the population?
e. Housing affordability, availability, and neighborhood location
f. Zoning laws which would affect home Bible studies, church growth, etc.?

3. How old is the church?

4. Are the founders still members of the church? Are they stuck in the past or
are they willing to move forward? Are they teachable?

5. What was this church’s pastoral record? (Note: a pastoral tenure of six or
more years is a positive indicator).
a. How many previous pastors have there been?
b. How long were the ministries of those pastors?
c. What was behind their leaving?
d. What are the perceived positives of those pastors (no names please)
e. What were the perceived negatives of those pastors? (no names please)
f. In what way(s) has the congregation treated the previous pastor(s)?

6. What are the attendance patterns of the church? Is it growing? Plateaued?

7. How would they describe the average church member or attendee?

8. What is the history of the various programs, activities, etc.?

Doctrinal, covenantal, and other information
1. Have I read and agree with their doctrinal statement?

2. Have I read and do I agree with their constitution? Are there any areas with
which I disagree? Have I communicated them to the church?

3. What definition(s) do they give for a Biblical church?
a. Faithful preaching and teaching of the Word of God?
b. Proper administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
c. Exercise church membership and discipline?
d. Prayer?
e. Fellowship?

4. What is the style of worship? Is it biblical and it is compatible with my

5. Is there anything about the music philosophy and program with which I am

6. What are their views regarding:
a. Evangelism and its priority? Are they doing anything about it?
b. Teaching?
c. Preaching?
d. Spiritual gifts, to include those controversial gifts?
e. Abortion?
f. Divorce?
g. Involvement in social issues and needs?
h. Counseling?
i. Discipling?

The Church’s Vision and Mission
1. To whom is the church trying to minister?

2. What is the vision of the church?

3. What is the vision of the pastor? Is it the same as the church board’s?

4. What is the mission of the church (how they will accomplish their vision)?

5. What is the mission of the pastor?

6. What are this church’s strengths?

7. What does the church do really well?

8. How do other churches in the city describe this church’s ministry?

9. What reason do new members give for joining the church?

10. What are the perceived strengths of the church (by pastor, elders,
members, etc.)?

11. What are the perceived weaknesses of the church?

12. What is my overall impression(s) of this church?

13. How would I rate the following non-verbal aspects about the church:
a. warmth
b. friendliness
c. welcoming
d. outgoing
e. positiveness

14. What kinds of programs are offered? Why?

Church Government
1. What is the governmental structure of the church?

2. How will this affect their decisions? Especially decisions concerning me,
my family, ministry, etc.?

3. Who really rules the church? The elders? Pastor? Founder(s)? Trustees?
a. Is there an “old uncle Henry?” or “Aunt Myrtle?” in charge?
b. Is the church following a biblical model?

Church Finances
1. How are the resources allocated?

2. What is the financial health of the church, now and historically?

3. What is the pattern of giving?
a. By whom?
b. Annual fluctuations?
c. Annual per capita or per unit giving?

4. Are there fund raisers, pledge appeals, etc. throughout the year? Why?

5. What is the pattern of attendance?

6. What salary package is offered?

7. Are there any other financial benefits offered?

8. Is there any indebtedness?
a. How much?
b. What percentage of the annual budget is the debt?
c. Is this related to a building program?

9. Is there a building program now or expected in the near future?

10. How generous is the giving for missions and evangelism?

11. What is the biggest fiscal challenge presently?
If the church were to receive a sizable contribution
(such as $100,000.00), what would it do with it? How would the elders
want to use it? Deacons? The congregation?

Questions about my fit at this church.
1. What is it about me, my profile and resume which interests the church
(pastor, elders, members, others)?

2. What are the apparent, obvious needs of the church that my gifts might serve?

3. Does this church have a job description for my position or must I develop
one? (Note: sometimes ambiguities can present major problems down the
road; especially if the church has certain unspoken expectations I cannot fulfill.)

4. Can they describe an average work-week for my position?

5. Will I have job evaluations? When and by whom?

6. Will I be part of a team? If so, who all is involved on this team?

7. If I am answerable to a senior pastor:
a. At best analysis, will my personality fit his? How do I know?
b. Questions about his leadership style:
(1) What are his priorities?
(2) Does he have a clear vision?
(3) What are his strengths and abilities?
(4) What is his attitude about power and position? (hold on or give
(5) How does he spend his time? (a people person? Invest time in things
or people?)
(6) Does he have a proven track record? (Influences the influencers?
Builds a winning team?)
(7) What is his philosophy of growth about the church?
(8) What expectations does he have about his staff? Others? Me?
(9) How high of a commitment level does he expect? (Same as his?
Is he a perfectionist?)
(10) Does he have a balanced life?
(11) Is he a reactive or proactive leader?
(12) Does he delegate well? Or does he micromanage?
(13) How well does he impact the lives of others?
(14) Is he also teachable? Humble?
(15) Will he minister to my family and me also? How do I know?

7. What about my family?
a. What is their perspective or what do they sense about this?
b. How will this church minister to my family? Will they grow in it?
c. What expectations do the leaders and/or congregation members have
about my wife? Family?
d. What is my wife thinking? What are her concerns and questions?

8. What will my sphere of influence be?

9. Are they aware of my dreams, vision, gifts?

10. Are they willing to allow me to do what I do best according to my
calling, gifts, talents, personality, etc.? How would I know?

11. Is the compensation package adequate? Benefits?

12. Are there any provisions for enrichment opportunities?
a. Will they encourage my growth?
b. What continuing educational seminars, etc. must I attend?
Can I attend?
c. Involvement with mission trips? Other church related ventures?

13. What is the length of vacation? Sick leave?

14. How do they think I ought to “recharge my batteries”?

15. Can I assess the potential longevity at this church?
a. Will my vision-ministry take three, five, ten years to complete?
b. Am I able to help lead this church into a new chapter in its life now?
Five years from now?
c. Am I willing to invest one-fourth of my career here in this church and
d. Is there something else I would rather be doing now? Five years from now?
e. Are there any roadblocks or challenges to the church’s ministry that could
stifle its future effectiveness for the Lord?