Walking in the Right Direction A column by Bill Ellenberger for The Daily Herald

What is a Church to do?

After your pastor leaves, no matter what the circumstances, there is a sense of implosion, abandonment, and or a great loss. There can be even a grieving process for some. This is major in the life of a believer and church body. What is a church to do?
I have experienced this firsthand or work with churches that have lost their pastor. The pain can be great. This loss can be a result of a pastor leaving by the calling of another church, forced to step down, retirement, and an unexpected or sudden loss. It is not unusual to emotionally grow close to your pastor. It a personal relationship we have.
I remember that members of one church shared with me the story of how their pastor died. He was opening the church one Sunday morning across the road from the parsonage. As he was returning to the church, he collapsed and died on the parking lot. Can you envision the setting, as you would be driving into the parking lot Sunday morning for church? You see people were out of their cars comforting one another, crying & praying for the pastor’s family and church. Many people were in a state of shock. The church did survive and they did get a new pastor.
Take heart, here are some things that need to be addressed before putting the word out that you need a pastor.
1. Pray. Prayer is key in all of this. This fundamental commutation brings clarity to God’s next calling to your church. Never speak about the process of finding a new pastor without making time at that moment to pray together. The Lord will hear your prayers if you pray.
2. Review all crucial church documents, including statement of faith, church constitution, mission statements, and vision statements. Don’t make the mistake of saying, “We’ll wait until the next pastor comes. We will work with him on these documents.” Think about it, the good candidates will not come until you get your house in order.
3. Meet as a church body to openly talk about what happened.
4. Church leaders keep the congregation informed about the process and progress of the pastoral search.
5. Create a search committee that includes the following positions or groups, all of who must be a member of the church: lay-leaders can include men & women based on church constitution. In some situations or cases, it may not be recommended employees of the church should serve or qualify as search committee member.
6. Know your pastoral compensation package before you open up the pastoral search. Review your current income and attendance trends of the church. This needs to be known before you start and empowers the search committee.
7. Have or establish a website and email service as an effective link of communication tools with candidates.
8. Know where your pastoral staff, lay-leaders, and church body are in respect of the readiness of the church to accept a new pastor.
9. Know with clarity what you are looking for in a pastor.
10. Know whom you are trying to reach in your community for Christ.
11. How would you identify the ideal spiritual leader, teacher, and pastor?
12. The last of the initial process is to create a job description. Many churches do this first and it should be about the last item on your “To Do” list of the search process.
Be comforted, knowing our Lord and Savior is there for us and our church that love and worship him.  Psalms 73:28 “Put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all your works.”
Stay focused on the King, Bill Ellenberger

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