Seven Major Questions When Considering a New Leadership Position

Numerous articles have been written about questions a pastor should ask before going to a new church. After listening to hundreds of pastors, I have developed my own list of major issues that a pastor should consider. Some of the pastors I interviewed shared with me why they viewed their ministry as a joyous match. Other pastors told me the reasons their current or former pastorates had been unmitigated disasters.

Throughout this process I saw seven major patterns emerge. I translate them here as seven major questions. While these questions are typically suited for a pastor who is considering a church, they also could be helpful to the pastor evaluating his current ministry. Church members who are in the process of looking for a pastor might find them helpful as well.

  1. Am I doctrinally compatible with the church? Make certain you are clear that you know fully all the details of the church’s doctrine, even if you are in the same denomination. And be clear and truthful with the theological beliefs you will bring to the church.
  2. Am I the right type of leader for this congregation? Almost all church members will say they desire to reach others. But not all are willing to accept the necessary changes that must take place to do so. The ideal leader stays out front sufficiently so others will follow; but he is not so far out front that his followers mistake him for the enemy and shoot him in the rear.
  3. Will I have a passion for the community? The pastor must not only love the church; he must also love the community where the church is located. Are you certain you can love the community sacrificially and wholeheartedly?
  4. What are the true expectations of me? Most churches have a generic job description for the pastor. It would fit almost any church. Instead of depending on a job description, ask members what their favorite pastor did to make him their favorite. You will then get a good idea of what they really want you to do.
  5. What are the expectations of church members? Is the church a high expectation church or a low expectation church? Will I really be able to equip the saints to do the work of ministry, or will I be expected to do the bulk of the ministry myself?
  6. What are the issues of conflict the church has experienced in recent years? How are those issues affecting the church today? Are there some unresolved and lingering issues? What are the expectations of me in dealing with unresolved conflicts?
  7. What are the members’ greatest memories in this church? As members begin to describe the perceived best days of the church, you will begin to get a good idea of what’s really important to them. You will then have a more realistic view of your beginning point in the church.

What do you think of these seven questions to help you get to know a church better? What would you add as a major question to ask?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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Recent Comments
Yea! You fixed it!
 
— Mr. Troy Reynolds
 
I just discovered this today and am looking forward to exploring the content on here. It looks like it could be very helpful. Just an FYI - in your paragraph on not putting out B+ material you have a typo. A little ironic. :-) The third sentence begins with "You time" not "Your time."
 
— Troy Reynolds
 
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 

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