Introduction Candidating at a church for a pastoral position is like going on a first date and then getting married. In a matter of weeks a candidate goes through the interview process and ends up as the pastor of a church. Virkler observes: “Probably a single sermon, or even a single day, is too short a time for a pastor or a congregation to interact enough to know whether their expectations of each other are compatible.” But, for most churches, this is the process — the only process.
The key for seminarians and pastors in search of God’s call in a church is to be sensitive to the dynamics involved and to trust the Lord though it.
Draw up a list of questions you have about the church, the ministry, the people, programs, and expectations.
Congregations usually experience an interim period from nine to twelve months.
It is not uncommon for some churches to be without a pastor for up to two years.
Typically the decision as to whether or not to take the next step to have the preacher come to the church in need of a pastor is not always made at that time.
The chairperson of the pulpit committee will likely suggest a time by which he will be back in touch with the preacher. However, if you are asked to preach in a neutral pulpit, you will now know why!
Find out how long the church has been without a pastor or a person in the staff position for which you are being interviewed.
Try to discover the person or persons to whom you would be responsible.And the candidate may state that he or she may need more time to consider in prayer what the Lord might do. Most often the neutral pulpit is used when a pastor is considering a call to another church and the Pulpit Committee wants to hear him or her in a neutral setting before bringing the person as a candidate to the church.Then comes the next step—the candidate preaches at the church where he or she is being considered.Although the procedure of candidating is flawed humanly speaking, we can affirm God’s providence in it. Through this maze of candidating, men and women and churches attempt to discern God’s call.Throughout the entire search phase, the candidate can use it as an opportunity to deepen one’s faith, to persevere in prayer, to fast, to trust God for His will.The candidating process can be a significant spiritually maturing experience.