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How to Select the Right Pastor – Part 1

The Relationship Model

Congregations are free within the authority that God gives to select the pastor that will be most likely to meet the unique needs of a unique congregation. In fact, congregations also have the responsibility, not merely the freedom, to make a careful selection. The notion that God calls a pastor to a specific congregation, apart from the will and action of the congregation itself, misunderstands the authority that God delegates to congregation to participate in the selection or “call” process.

Congregations in various denominations and cultures follow many different processes in making the selection of a pastor. Sometimes the bishop makes the selection. Sometimes a bishop will make recommendations by providing a list of candidates whom the bishop thinks might be successful. In some denominations the congregation interviews at the same time as the prospective pastor preaches a “trial sermon.” Of course, preaching is just one of the necessary functions that the successful pastor will be required to provide. (Prospective pastors don’t seem to be invited to make trial hospital calls or conduct trial counselling sessions.)

But just what are the competencies required of a successful pastor? Well, that varies with the congregation and with the number of other members of the professional pastoral staff. The more pastors the congregations have, the more specialized are the competencies required of the individual pastor.

In cases where there is only one pastor, we have been able to determine through research what are the 20 most important competencies of a successful pastor.

Here are the first ten of these competencies together with a definition of each. Competencies are a combination of values, attitudes, skills, experience, and personal gifts.

Accountability – acknowledges the need to hold oneself accountable to others, willingly giving and receiving feedback.

Commitment to God – entirely devoted to God, desiring to walk in daily dependence on God and to reflect God’s character in thought, word and deed.

Communication – listens attentively and speaks to both mind and heart with effectiveness and clarity.

Conflict resolution – enables conflict to be resolved effectively with justice and fairness in order to restore wholeness and healthy relationships.

Effective management – creates an environment where people, activities and resources are managed with energy, vision and clarity.

Empathy – shows warmth and sensitivity to others, recognizing and appreciating their feelings, concerns and needs.

Encouragement – actively gives others hope in the future, re-energized and determined to go on.

Humility – demonstrates a servant attitude towards others.

Initiative – seizes opportunities showing creative insight into what might be accomplished.

Interdependence – acknowledges one’s need of others, working with them in order to fulfil the values, vision and mission of the church.

GovernanceMatters.com Inc. has developed a diagnostic tool by which pastors and congregations can participate in assessing these competencies. The primary purpose of the tool is to make a good thing better. A pastor can learn which competencies can be celebrated and which can benefit from more development. You may CONTACT US for more information.


Les Stahlke, President/CEO
GovernanceMatters.com Inc.