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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

What Kind of Pastor Do You Want Next?

The Baptist Bulletin

As printed in the Baptist Challenge, August 2014

You are probably not restricting your choice to a Ph.D. or a D.D., but you certainly do want a pastor with Heaven’s B. A. (Born Again!)

How big a man do you want? “Well,” the chairman of the Pulpit Committee replied, “we want a man big enough to reach heaven when he’s on his knees!”

A Bible preacher? By all means! One mighty in the Scriptures, and “apt to teach.”

A “good mixer?” Well, no, not that. Conditions being what they are today, one good “separator” is worth a dozen good mixers. You certainly want a man who hews to the line on the biblical principle of separation.

A “religious isolationist” then? No, not that, either. You want a man who is brotherly, who values, who values for himself and his church the fellowship of other brethren. You don’t want the type of individual who prides himself on being a “lone wolf.”

As a matter of fact, you don’t a wolf at all, do you? You want a shepherd. Today there is greater need than ever before that pulpit committees and churches remember Christ’s warning: “Beware of false prophets, which come unto you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Don’t be too greatly impressed by a sheep-skin, but make sure your prospective pastor knows the great doctrines of the Word — and believes them.

A Baptist? But, of course; this is a Baptist church, isn’t it? And it may be added, he should be a Baptist from conviction rather than from convenience, and should know something of Baptist history and Baptist polity.

Experienced? That is an advantage sometimes. On the other hand it may merely mean that a man has acquired fixed ways of meeting situations, has been over the ground so often that his path is a rut, well-worn and deep, and that he doesn’t depend on the Lord for guidance in each situation, tries to take Ai just as he took Jericho.

If he lacks experience, your church will no doubt see that he gets plenty of it, so let’s not make any hard and fast rules about experience, shall we?

And age? Ah, here’s another point of which rigid rules are wrong. If the New Park Baptist Church of London had had such rules in 1854, it is probable they would not have called the 19-year-old preacher from Waterbeach, and so would never have known the ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

On the other hand, it is to be feared some pulpit committees have rejected God’s man because he was past middle age. Never assume that the fire is out just because there is a little snow on the roof? Age hardens and sours some men, while others are mellowed and made more fruitful.

On the other hand are some to whom advanced age brings added depth in preaching and increased vision and resourcefulness in leadership, and on the other hand are some who suffer from hardening of the intellect long before hardening of the arteries. In general, the fewer restrictions of this sort, the easier it will be for the Lord to have His own way and place His own man.

How To Proceed

If possible visit the man’s own church before inviting him to yours.

Find out how he stands in his own community. Does he pay his debts?

Get his statement of doctrinal views. Find out what he believes and whether he has convictions and the courage to stand for them.

If he measures up thus far, and if, after much prayer, his name is still on mind and heart, invite him to the church for a week of Bible teaching or evangelistic meetings. Don’t ask him to come for a Sunday to “candidate.” Almost anyone who has been preaching for a while should be able to dig up two good “candidating sermons” with which to make a good impression.

On the other hand, some men are made nervous by the thought that they are “on trial,” and are unable to do their best.

A week with the church provides a better opportunity for getting acquainted, and if he is the Lord’s choice for the pulpit, there should be rather general recognition of that fact on the part of the church before the week is over.

Present the name of one man to the church and vote on him before hearing another. Nothing so divides a church as to have a string of “candidates,” and nothing is so humiliating to true men of God as to be put in the position of seeming to “compete” for a pulpit, and of being lined up and checked against each other, point by point, like horses at a county fair.

Be reverent: be prayerful. The shepherding of your church is a matter of great concern to your Lord, and He will direct you to His choice if you will allow Him to do so.