Searching a New Pastor for your Church?

Before a Church Pulpit Search Committee can pick a candidate they need to know what kind of ministry is needed for their congregation, which will take them to the next level.Empty Pulpit

Once you have prayerfully come to know what kind of ministry is needed, then you can easily look at the applications to select the ones that show those persons to have had fruitful results in that area of their past ministry. This will make it much easier to find the right man for the job. This article is written to help you understand the kinds of ministries God has set in the Church, and what their purpose is.

Biblical teaching on Ministry Contrasted with Personality.

The book of Acts records the appointment of Seven Spirit filled men, in the early days of the Church.  These were men whose work was to see to the fair distribution of food without ethnic discrimination to widows within the Church (Acts 6:1,3,5). Today we might name these men 'Deacons'. The second man listed in Vs.5 was Philip. He was an appointed server, of the Jerusalem Church. Philip went to Samaria and later led the Ethiopian Eunuch to faith in Jesus. He is mentioned in Acts 21:8 as Philip the Evangelist.

There are more such examples in the New Testament, but the point is that there is a difference between a Title and a Ministry. In our Churches today, and especially in the Assemblies of God, we have a minister, whose Title is "Pastor". There is no problem with this as a Title, but when we look at ministries there is a list of the "Gift Ministries" of the Ascended Christ, given to His Church. It is often the case that a Pastor of a congregation, may have a 'ministry' that he exercises which is different to his 'Title'.

The listing of these ministries is found in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians Chapter 4. This passage should be read in its entirety, from vs.1 to 14.

Here is the listing of Ministries.

I have used the ISV, for clarity of the original text. Please note that nowhere are these used as 'Titles' and none of these ministry names are capitalized. They are descriptive of the gifting that God has given that person to exercise.

Eph 4:11-12  And it is he who gifted some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, and still others to be pastors and teachers, to perfect the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of Christ.

The first on the list is the gift ministry of apostles.

The word in the Greek text is 'sent ones'. We use the term Missionary today, understanding that such a person is sent to propagate the Gospel, in places where there is no church, and to develop new congregations.

Act 13:2-4  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set Barnabas and Saul apart for me to do the work for which I called them."   Then they fasted and prayed, laid their hands on them, and let them go. Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus.

The second is the ministry of a prophet.

Act 15:32 " Then Judas and Silas, who were also prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers".

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:3  'the person who prophesies speaks to people for their up-building, encouragement, and comfort'.
This ministry is then about building up believers, and encouraging and comforting the Church.

Third on the list is that of an evangelist.

This would be a man who has as his first priority, the proclamation of the message of Salvation to people who are not believers, to lead them to Christ and help them find fellowship within a congregation. Such was the case with Pastor Timothy, to whom Paul writes that he should concentrate on the ministry which Paul recognized him to have, as an evangelist, he should make full proof, or use of.

2 Timothy 4:5  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

The fourth listing is that of a pastoral ministry.

The scripture uses the word pastors. The Greek text gives 'poimen' indicating a shepherd.
This is one who cares for and protects and nourishes the flock. The shepherd is compassionate, (Matthew 9:36) willing to give his life for the flock, (John 10:11) Knows his flock, (John 10:14) Seeks to reconcile those going astray, (1 Peter 2:25) The man with the Title of "Pastor" may also have the ministry of "pastor".

Lastly there is the ministry of teacher.

While some feel that this is linked to the previous pastor ministry, I would not doubt that a pastor would be benefitted by having this additional gifting, yet there are certainly men with the ministry of a teacher, who do not have the ministry of a pastor.
In the early church at Antioch there were certain teachers. Acts 13:1 mentions a mix of men some of whom were teachers, but not one of them is called a pastor.
The Greek here for teacher is "didaskalos" from the root word for an instructor, used also for a 'doctor' of instruction, i.e. one highly qualified to expound on his subject.

How do we distinguish the ministry of a man?

Jesus made it very clear that by a man's fruits, you will know him. There are missionaries, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. In each of these categories are men with that ministry but with very different personalities. Barnabas and Paul were both missionaries, but were of very different temperaments. They finally went in different directions, both continuing in their missionary (apostolic) ministries.  Their ministry was church planting and they both had a track record that revealed their ministry.
It becomes very difficult to determine a man's ministry gift simply by hearing him preach a sermon. What is really most helpful is to ask him what his passion is in ministry, and compare that with his track record. If there is any doubt, his track record should be the determining factor in deciding what gift ministry the man has.

How does a congregation decide what ministry is needed for their Church?

There are some steps that the leadership of a Church can take to find the right man to take the office of "Pastor" to their congregation.

  1. The Church Board, or Pulpit Committee first need to look at the ministry they have had in the past. What kind of gifting has the Church enjoyed under the previous minister. This should be based on the Ephesians 4:11 giftings, not the personality of the man.
  2. Decide what kind of ministry gifting the congregation should be looking for that will take the church to the next level. Looking back on the five giftings of ministry that Jesus has given to us, do we need the same as before, or do we need to find someone who can build on what has been well laid in the past. This will take consultation and prayer by the Board. Once a consensus is reached on what the Lord is wanting the church to have in terms of ministry gifting, the Board, or Pulpit Committee is ready to look at and analyze the applications that have come in.
  3. Once the committee has sorted out the applications by ministry track record, it will be time to look at the experience, qualifications and background of the applicants.
  4. If an applicant has given references, it is the practice of many leading organizations to contact the 'reference' and ask for names of people they know who also know the applicant. Contacting those people, called referees, will give a better unbiased opinion of the character and reputation of the applicant. It is important to keep a liaison with the District Officials when looking for information on an applicant. The District usually know more about an applicant than the local church board.
  5. The Board or Pulpit Committee may now have come to some prayerful decision as to the list of candidates that they wish to interview.
  6. There needs to be some definite procedure laid down, as to how the Board will come to finality on the applicants. Many Pastors applying for a position, are hesitant to let their current church know they are considering a move until they have certainty of appointment from the church that interviewed them. Interviews with applicants should be in strict confidentiality and if the board is not ready to negotiate further with an individual, it is courtesy to inform him/her as soon as possible.
  7. Once the Board has consensus on an individual, they may wish to invite the applicant to 'try out' and allow the congregation to vote on that person. It is wise to do this before negotiating with the next applicant.


Rev. Jim Cole-Rous Ordained in 1958, ministered as a Church planter, Bible Teacher, Evangelist and Missionary working in 15 countries. Jim is still in active full time missionary ministry as Director of Content for Network211.
© J. Cole-Rous 2015