Deacons and trustees are often the same individuals. This is not necessarily a bad thing and in some cases is a very good thing. It is perhaps overlooked by many that deacons and trustees have two very different roles. States require that an organization has trustees for the purposes of having a legal identity. They are in fact responsible for the actions of the organization. Usually there are three trustees, one being the Pastor/President; one being Secretary; and one being Treasurer. It is their job to manage and protect the assets and resources of the church which is legally organized. They are accountable to the state to do this properly. This really has very little with the Biblical office of a Deacon. Deacons are chosen by the church to serve the congregation. Their main responsibility is to “free up” the pastor in order that he has adequate time for his ongoing study of God’s Word and prayer. Deacons must be Biblically qualified to hold this office. They are to be the primary helpers to the Pastor. This work may or may not include being a Trustee of the legal organization. It is primarily a spiritual office which is to focus on the well being of the membership, both spiritually and physically. The Pastor is not accountable to Deacons, but rather they are accountable to him. When deacons and trustees are one and the same, there can be some confusion as to who is leading whom. Trustees invariably function as managers. Deacons are servants. I believe it can create awkward circumstances when deacons and trustees are one and the same. To be sure it would be unwise to place a man in the position of a trustee who is not spiritual, nor a dedicated servant of Christ. Placing him in both positions can create confusion. Is he supposed to obey his pastor as a servant of the church? Or is he to manage the corporation as a trustee of the legal organization? Some men erroneously think that this includes managing their Pastor. Some men can handle both responsibilities in a Christ like manner, but I believe it places unnecessary stress on their relationship with one another when their responsibilities are combined. I think it wise to include as many good men in the functioning process of the church as possible. When the offices of a church, whether deacon or trustee, are held so close that a very small number of men participate in the process, it tends to alienate other gifted men who may also serve well in one of those positions. In a church where this is practiced you will often hear complaints like, “The Pastor is a dictator,” or “This is a dictatorship”. A man may be suitable to be a trustee who is not qualified to be a deacon. Thought should be given to using him where he can be used in a productive way for the Lord. Churches are not dictatorships, but neither are they pure democracies. In a democracy everyone has an equal say. In the church the Pastor is to be obeyed and followed as he is a representative of God. Even if he is corrupt, God alone is the one who has the authority to remove him. If he is corrupt, he should be exposed, but great care must be given not to enter into the areas of authority that belong to God alone. A man who is qualified to be a deacon, may or may not be a good choice as a trustee of the organization. Men who are scripturally qualified to serve the church as deacons have a much higher standard by which to be measured. They usually have pastoral hearts. Making them serve in two capacities can limit, and even frustrate the zeal they exhibit for ministry. Exercising talents in the areas of money management, property care, and legal work can be done by members who are spiritual, but not qualified to be deacons. Unless a church can come to some kind of inclusive operational considerations, it will tend to be managed by a very small group of controllers. The best solution is to have regular meetings with all of the male members of the church for prayer, planning, and fellowship. There will be a natural flow of leaders that surface from that group who my never become deacons, but who are certainly capable of being helpful leaders in the church. In any event, the pastor who wants to grow the church must be the Chairman of the board of Trustees and Chairman of the Deacons. If he is not, he just has a job. A legal church must have trustees. It may or may not have men who are qualified to function as Deacons. The church at Jerusalem was very large before any Deacons were chosen. It is a mistake to appoint men to be deacons who do not qualify according to the Bible. It would be better not to have any deacons at all rather than to designate men to positions which they cannot or will not fulfill.
This is a sample of the questions that should be asked by a ministry candidate before he commits to accept the pastorate of a church. He needs to know as much about the church as the church knows about him if it is to be a “match.”
Thank you for inviting me to submit a resume to be considered for the position of senior pastor at your church. I am honored to be considered by you. As you well know, not every church and pastor are legitimate matches. Therefore, in order to help us get properly acquainted, I would appreciate the pulpit or pastoral search committee’s help by completing and returning to me the following information. This will help us both in ascertaining our compatibility. Please answer all questions as thoroughly as possible and with total frankness. Some of the questions can be answered in the space provided, but some may require extra space or paper.
1. Please describe any associations the church might have or keep with other churches or para-church organizations (i.e. fellowships, colleges, mission boards, camps, etc).
2. What event has shaped your church most in the last ten years?
3. How would you estimate the potential for reaching the unchurched in your community and surrounding area in the future?
4. What is the seating capacity’ of your auditorium?
5. When was the last time your church completed a building project?
6. How fast did the church pay off that debt? What is the total amount of the church’s present indebtedness?
7. What is the church’s average weekly income? How does that compare with a year ago?
8. What percentage of your church families would you estimate tithe their income to the Lord through the church?
9. What percentage of your church members would you estimate spend time daily (or at least very
consistently) in personal Bible reading (and/or study) and prayer?
10. Does the church have organized times of fellowship (for those in the church)?
11. Do the members get together for fellowship amongst themselves on their own?
12. What is the percentage make-up of your Sunday morning attendance?
13. What is the numerical make-up of your membership?
14. What are the attendance patterns at meetings other than morning worship?
15. What is the pastoral history of your church? Who were the pastors during the last 15-20 years? What single sentence would you give typifying the ministry of each, and reason for their leaving?
16. Where does your church stand on the charismatic movement?
17. Where does your church stand on the tongues issue?
18. Where does the church stand on the issue of Calvinism?
19. Does your church have a particular stand/position regarding the King James Version of the Bible? If so, please describe.
20. Does your church have a particular stand/position regarding the various modern versions of the Bible?
21. How would you typify the worship style of your congregation? (Check ALL that apply.)
22. What type of music is used in the church services and ministries (i.e. traditional, hymns, contemporary, southern gospel, etc)?
a. Congregational singing:
c. Special music:
d. Youth ministries:
e. Children’s ministries:
23. Does the church have a written (or otherwise understood) policy regarding the type/style of music to be sung, played, etc?
24. What hymnal(s) does the church use?
25. What might be some touchy issues with people in the church… divorce, alcohol, tobacco, materialism, clothing, music, or others?
26. What kind of programs beyond worship for all ages does your church presently have in place?
27. Does the church have a strong missions’ effort?
28. Does the church employ a/the “Faith Promise” approach to supporting missionaries?
29. Describe how your pastoral selection process’ works. Will you interview only one person at a time, taking that person all the way to a vote for acceptance or rejection before initiating another interview? Or, will you interview a variety of candidates, hearing several before you decide which one to recommend? Do you plan on a “trial sermon”? Are you thinking of multiple interviews? Please describe your process:
30. What style of leadership typifies the desire of your church? (Place an x on one of the following.) Board leads ____ Pastor leads ____
31. How many people are involved regularly in visitation or outreach? ______
32. In the past twelve months…
How many have been baptized into the church? ______
How many have been added via statement or letter? ______
33. In the previous twelve months…
How many were baptized into the church? ______
How many were added via statement or letter? _______
34. How would you typify the way your church treats visitors?
35. How does the church follow up with those who visit?
36. Is the church organized as a not-for-profit corporation, or some other way (for tax purposes, such as “501.c.3”)? Is the church officially chartered with your state? Does the church have an official Statement of Faith, and Constitution and Bylaws?
II. CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
1. Describe your community in a short paragraph (population, prominent employers, general atmosphere and attitude, etc).
2. The church may do all of the following things, but all of them cannot take priority. What is your ranking of the following seven emphases in priority order (#1 highest, #2 next, etc.):
3. Finish this sentence: “Our church is best known in this community for _______________.”
4. What do you believe to be the most pressing need in your community right now?
5. Describe the largest church in your community or surrounding area. What is it like and how are you different and/or similar?
6. Over the last five years or so, when people have left your church, what did they say was the reason?
7. What do you think were the primary reasons?
8. What are the five biggest changes you would like to see happen in your church?
9. How and when was your church started? By whom?
10. Who do you feel has been your most ideal pastor’? Why?
III. PASTORAL AND LEADERSHIP
1. What do you believe are the most important priorities for your new pastor (#1 most important, #2 next most important, etc.)?
____Time with family
____Preparation for preaching
____ Community work / outreach
2. What are your weekly time expectations for your new pastor? (i.e. How many hours would you expect your pastor to spend each week in each of the following activities?)
____Time with family
____Preparation for Preaching
____Community work / outreach
3. What provisions do you make for the pastor’s personal and professional growth (e.g. continuing education, seminars, etc)?
4. How would you typify the prayer support for your present (or most recent) pastor?
5. Is the church prepared to support the pastor and his family financially? Would the church’s support provide for related matters of pension, health care, life insurance etc?
6. What are the arrangements you make for a parsonage or housing allowance?
7. What is the make-up of your present staff, if you have such? If not, do you plan for staff?
8. Some church “boards” (deacons, church vote, etc) expect to play an exceptionally strong role in the selection of assistant ministers and other staff. Others expect the senior pastor to “hire the staff.” How do you believe staff should be added to the church?
9. Please describe the present decision-making “process” of church leadership on business matters and other issues. What role does the pastor specifically have, the deacons, church vote, etc?
10. What role does the church believe the pastor’s wife should have in the ministry?
11. What role does the church believe the pastor’s children should have in the ministry?
12. Over the past fifteen years which pastor’s spouse do you believe has functioned in a most ideal way? Why?
Please provide the following references for me (names and telephone numbers).
1. Your current or most recent pastor:
2. Immediately preceeding pastor:
3. Prior pastor:
4. Community person (someone familiar with your church, though not an attender):
5. A missionary, evangelist, or other church pastor who knows your church well (but is NOT a member of it):
6. Recent special speaker who visited your church:
7. Please give the name(s) of each person responsible for answering these questions (in any capacity) and how long each has been a member of the church.
1. To the best of your knowledge, have there ever been any lawsuits brought against the church? If so please explain.
2. To the best of your knowledge, have there ever been any accusations of abuse or impropriety of any kind brought against the church, or any pastors/leaders/workers, etc. involved with the church? If so, please explain.
3. Is there anything that was not asked here, but you feel should have been asked? If so, what would that be?
4. Is there anything (not covered in these questions) that you feel I should know about the church?
5. If the church has an official Statement of Faith, and Constitution and Bylaws, please send a copy with this returned questionnaire. (If already sent to me, please disregard this request.)
Thank you for completing and submitting this information. Everything will be given prayerful and careful consideration before our meeting on____________________________.
When a pulpit committee offers a questionnaire to be filled out by a prospectiove candidate for the pastorate there are several things that should be considered.
- You are the one who presumes to have a calling from God
- You need to have been properly trained by a pastor
- You need to have been sent into the ministry
- You need to have a credible history of an authoritative ministry
- If you are an authentic man of God, You have a ministry to share
- The ministry is not a “job” to seek It is a service to offer
- The Lord is the one who places His men in His churches
- You must not become a hireling or you will not last in the ministry
- Be open and transparent with those who ask you questions if you want them to trust you
- They have a right to ask about your doctrine
- They have a right to ask about your family
- They have a right to ask about your morals
- They have a right to ask about your credit history
- Be prepared to ask the pulpit committee your own set of questions
- You are not a beggar looking for a handout
- What you believe and require is as important as what they believe and require
- This relationship is a commitment much like a marriage
- The pastor is to be the chairman of the Board
- He is to be chairman of the Trustees to have physical oversight
- He is to be chairman of the deacons to have spiritual oversight
- He is to “Take care of” the church of God
- Be willing to humble yourself in your service to the Lord
- There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing
- There are many phonies moving from church to church with no longevity; no productivity, and no consistency
- Credibility is the one thing you need and you cannot have without a good record
- Let God open the doors He wants you to go through
- If He does not open a door, do not force it
- If He does open a door then go through it
- Your ability to manipulate people, facts, and agendas will probably get in the way