This is where the face-to-face interview becomes important. And search committees need to be ready to discern who looks good on paper and who is actually a good match for them. It’s a bit crushing to 1) interview someone who is amazing and then that person doesn’t show up and/or 2) have a pastor but wish you didn’t. Pastor Nominating Committees are sometimes not prepared to call the best pastor.
Among the questions I have been asked in interviews:
- What would you do if your child threw a rock through the rose window? (Note: I was 27 years old, child free and single at the time. My response: “Call the insurance company?” Apparently the former pastor’s young child had broken a stained glass window and the congregation didn’t think he had been properly disciplined . . . so this became an interview question.)
- Is there any way you could be a homosexual? (Note: I was being interviewed with my male spouse and baby spit up on my shoulder. #BestBeardEver)
- Would you ever protest anything? (Note: I re-asked: Are you asking if there is anything in the world worth protesting? That would be a yes.)
Church Search Committees sometimes ask questions based on issues with the former pastor, fears, or not-well-considered generalities that might or might not shine light on political proclivities. We can do better.
Some of my favorite interview questions between Search Committees and Candidates:
- Share a time when you transformed your church. (Note: It’s also helpful for a Search Committee to share a time when the congregation was transformed.)
- Describe a time when you were a resilient leader. (Note: I’d also like to hear church leaders share how the congregation was resilient.)
- What books did you read last year? (Note: Ask if the congregation reads books together. #OneCongregationOneBook)
- What kind of things feed your soul?
- What sucks the life out of your soul?
- What would your non-Christian friends say about you?
What questions would you add to discern who looks good on paper and who is actually a 21st Century leader?
Image source here. Note: Looking good on paper is not our goal.