Hearing from others in response to my first post on this subject got me thinking. Dangerous, I know.
First, I’ve thought about how none of us are innocent in the problem. Most job descriptions for pastors are focused on satisfying the consumer-driven tendencies of our culture because we are driven by the same. We all have some blood on our hands. I know I do. One of the reasons we are like this is all the wealth and freedom we have. Our wealth makes it near impossible for us to be content with what God has provided, and that includes what he has provided ecclesiastically. So we pine for me. The best we can afford. And our freedom gives us many churches and pastors to hear from. You put those two together in the pastoral search and it can get and does get awful. many of them sound like PR campaigns done by HR departments. And we haven’t even talked about the lure of salary and benefits.
But I think there is a better way of doing things.
Someone asked me how I do it. And my answer came rather easily. Instead of churches and search committees making public their job description, they should not make it public. Ask those interested and those they are interested in to send them some thoughts on a job description and then see how well those fit with what the church wants in a pastor. Why not come up with one that is very bare bones and amendable? None will fit perfectly and that is probably right and good. A pastor is likely to know more about what a pastor should be than a committee of lay-persons. Just as an computer programmer will know more about programming than an hiring manager will. Certainly any pastor worth hiring would be worthy of learning from in the process. How could expect to be led by him after he is hired but not at all before? So any job description should be amendable.
The great problem with the process as we have it now, is that it’s too much like the dating i did in High School in college. Everyone is on their best behavior and trying to impress each other in the very beginning. All weakness is hid. All failures are swept under the carpet. Both parties try to show off a little by dressing up. I’ve written about this here and here.
If churches would just keep their job descriptions to themselves and ask candidates to provide them with one to see if they just might match up, then you would cut much of the consumerism off at the knees. There is never a guarantee a process will work out perfectly. But if the goal of the process is to model the very gospel by which we have have all been saved, I think the process can be more healthy.