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10 Important Things To Ask a Potential Pastor

from Mar 07, 2010 Category: Articles

When interviewing a potential pastor, what are the ten most important questions that you would ask?

Though I have never served on a search committee, and have never been interviewed for a call, this is such an outstanding question that I wanted to take a crack at it. I suspect that in most churches the gap between the actual questions and the best questions would go a long way to explain the particular weakness of the particular church. The questions we ask reveal our hearts just as much as the answers reveal the heart of the potential pastor. Here, I believe, is what I would want to ask.

10. What do you believe your fundamental calling is as a minister of the gospel?

9. What do you believe is the function of Lord’s Day worship? How would you see that function best served?

8. Who are your heroes, and why are they your heroes?

7. What is the greatest danger to the peace of the local church? What is the greatest danger to the purity of the local church?

6. What are the last five books you read? What is the most helpful book you read in the past year?

5. What was the most positive aspect of your training for gospel ministry? What was the most negative aspect?

4. What is the good news of Jesus Christ?

3. What have you done for the unbelievers in your community? What have you done for the unborn?

2. How would your friends honestly describe the disposition of your wife and children?

1. What are your greatest weaknesses as a pastor?

To be fair, perhaps I ought to take a crack at answering these questions as well.

I believe the calling of the pastor is to lead and to feed the sheep placed under his care, helping them to grow in grace and wisdom, to become a more faithful reflection of the glory of our husband, Jesus.

I believe we gather together on the Lord’s Day to renew covenant. Though unbelievers are welcome, the service is family time, as God’s people gather to feast with the Lord. I believe a covenant renewal service that culminates with the celebration of the Lord’s table best serves this purpose. I believe we ought to regularly sing the Psalms, and music that has stood the test of time, that lifts us into the heavenly places as we draw near to the Lord.

My heroes are godly men who are often overlooked in their faithful service. They are men like Mark Dewey and Nathan Clark George that are both immovable in their commitment to Christ, and yet are tender and gracious to those under their care, especially their lovely wives and children. Among the more well known, my heroes include C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton for their profound insight into the human soul, my father and John Gerstner for their profound insight into the character of God, Ken Myers and E. Michael Jones for their profound insight into the broader culture, and Troy Polamalu for his reckless disregard for his own well being in pursuit of victory for the team.

The greatest danger to the peace of the local church is the tongue, enflamed by our myriad insecurities. We destroy the church because we envy one another. We solve this as we love one another. We love one another as we are more fully persuaded that we are loved of God, as we believe the gospel. The greatest danger to the purity of the church is a love of the world, and its approval. We solve this as we love another as we are more fully persuaded that we are loved of God.

The last five books I read were Uncle Tom’s Cabin, A Tale of Two Cities, The Providence of God by G.C. Berkouwer, General Revelation by G.C. Berkouwer and a Harlen Corben novel. The most helpful book I read this year was a manuscript on fighting the temptation of pornography for both dads and sons. The best part of my seminary training was the relationships with men whose character I respected who were my teachers, including my father, Richard Pratt, Frank Farrell, Roger Nicole, and Ron Nash. The greatest weakness was the focus on training my mind rather than my character.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that He took on flesh, lived a perfect life, suffered the wrath of the Father for the sins of His bride, was vindicated in His resurrection, and ascended on high to bring all things into subjection. He is the second Adam, fulfilling the dominion mandate. We are His bride, a help suitable to Him, and bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh. I pray regularly for the lost in my local community, and strive to live a life that would show forth the gospel. Though I am not as bold as I ought to be, I do seek to take opportunities to speak to my neighbors about the things of God when given opportunity.

With respect to the unborn, I pray regularly that God would be pleased to protect all these little children. I seek to keep the issue before those I am able to reach in my writing and speaking. I support the work of local crisis pregnancy centers, and when asked, speak for cpc’s at fundraising events. Most importantly, I have been blessed to welcome into my family two children whose mothers likely would have aborted them, had there not been a family eager and ready to adopt the children.

I believe that my friends would see in my wife and children both the joy of the Lord, and the fruit of the joy I find in them. Though we all have our sins to contend with, I am confident that my family is fully behind my vision for how I hope God will use me for His kingdom. They too are eager and faithful servants of our mutual King.

My biggest weakness is that I am profoundly shy. I am not quick to make friends, nor even to interact with the friends I have been blessed with. Though I am confident in the depth of the love I have for the sheep under my care, I likewise understand why that love may not seem so evident to the sheep. My shyness is, I suspect, a corollary to a deeper problem, that I want to be liked. My reputation matters far more to me than it should.

My answers, of course, are more brief than what ought to come out of conversations with a candidate. Given the leadership role that a pastor ought to take, let me add one bonus question every committee ought to ask — What question should we have asked you that we failed to ask?