Over the years I have talked to many congregations about being their pastor. Most of them have asked me to answer a number of questions in a written survey format (Which I don’t mind doing). At the same time there are questions that need to be asked of the congregation by the candidate. Why? The congregation is as much on trial as the minister is! I hate to write this, but I’ve been misled… or not told everything I should have been told… by Search Teams. So check their answers with other sources. In other words DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK.
So with that said, here are a few questions I suggest you might do well to ask.
- Why did your last two pastors leave? Do you mind if I contact them?
- How many were baptized the last three years?
- What was your budget the last three years? Did giving exceed budget?
- What are your expectations of the pastor?
- What is the function of the Deacons? How many active Deacons are there?
- Describe for me your process for electing Deacons.
- How would you describe your worship style?
- What was the average attendance 5 years ago… 10 years ago?
- How has conflict been dealt with in the past?
- How many staff do you have? How long have they served there?
- What are the congregation’s strengths?
- What are the congregation’s weaknesses?
- Has a minister ever been fired or forced to resign? If so, why? What was the process for coming to that decision? (NOTE: Talk to the Director of Missions about the event/events to get his perspective. You might want to ask him for contacts/references that no longer attend there if he knows any.).
- Can I have a copy of business meeting minutes of last three years?
- What does the congregation do well? What could the congregation do better? What would you like to see God do in and through the congregation?
There are follow up questions depending on the answers given. Then there are other questions worthy of being asked you will need to come up with on your own. Make sure to seek God and follow His leadership. I hate to write this, but in my experience… several congregations were less than open with me about their past. This is the reason you need to do your own homework and examination of congregations!