Have you wondered what happens behind the scenes when people indicate their interest in being considered as pastor-leaders by congregational search teams in our Region? While it is not a secret, we engage in some intense work to aid our search teams in their efforts of prayerful discernment.

Here is an outline of what happens after Region staff have received the documents requested from people interested in being considered as a potential candidate. (The documents requested are found on our Region’s website at http://missionnorthwest.org/pastorsseekingchurches).

1. People named as references receive a reference form to complete.

a. Information provided is confidential. Church search teams will do independent reference checks.

b. Church search teams will NOT receive resumes/profiles unless the Region office has a minimum of 3 references completed on file.

2. Potential candidates will be contacted by the Executive Minister (EM) or Associate Executive Minister (AEM) for an interview.

3. At the conclusion of the interview, the potential candidate will be offered the opportunity as appropriate to review profiles for churches currently seeking a pastor. Not all people are appropriate candidates for every congregation.

4. Potential candidates are asked to prayerfully review the church profile(s). If the potential candidates find they are interested in any of the churches, they communicate their interest to the EM or AEM ONLY (not the church).

a. Potential candidates do not initiate contact with the search teams or churches. The right of first contact belongs to the church search team. It is considered unethical by our churches if a potential candidate makes the first contact with the search team. Church search teams do not consider people who subvert this agreed-to process.

b. When potential candidates indicate interest, they are committing to a one-time, non-obligatory interview with the search team. The goal of the first non-obligatory interview is for search teams and potential candidates to make decisions on personal interactions with real people and not solely on two-dimensional forms of information (resumes, profiles, websites, etc.)

5. After potential candidates communicate their interest to the EM or AEM, the EM or AEM will send their profiles/resumes to the appropriate church search teams. Someone from the search team is in touch with the potential candidate to set a date and time for the first non-obligatory interview.

6. The decision to continue the process of discernment now lies with both parties. The search team may wish to have further interviews. Mutual agreement between the potential candidate and the search team is necessary to continue any conversations.

7. The task of the search team is to present ONLY ONE person to the church as THE candidate for the pastoral position. Once a person agrees to become THE (only) candidate for the church, he/she must discontinue all conversations with other groups until the church calls the person AND he/she accepts the call. The church search team does the same regarding any other potential candidates with whom they are in communication.

These steps have been developed over time and from the best practices of hundreds of churches. Clearly, the steps involved in discernment require time to prayer and listen for the Lord’s direction. Everyone is involved in this work—potential candidates, search team members, and the congregation—who often are waiting while this work is going on behind the scenes.