Calling a pastor or other minister is a big deal — Kingdom business with effects for eternity.
And Mike Jackson said one of his favorite things to do in his job is put a search committee’s mind at ease in the process.
“We can come in and share and remind them that God already knows the person He’s chosen for them,” he said. “And we can remind them that if they will do all they can to seek Him and draw as close to Him as they can in the process, they will have the affirmation that they’ve called the right person.”
That’s the most important part — but it’s only the beginning of what state Baptist leadership can do to assist in the search process, said Jackson, director of the office of LeaderCare and church health for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).
SBOM offers a variety of tools for a pastor or minister search:
A resource kit
All a church has to do is get in touch with Jackson’s office, and the office will send out a packet of information and resources to get started with the search process.
There’s no charge for the packet or for the personal instruction offered along with it, Jackson said.
“We can train search committees to be equipped to do what they need to do, and we can do this at no cost, thanks to funds given through the Cooperative Program,” Jackson said.
They start with helping committees understand the priority of prayer. Then they help them select some leaders for the search team.
“And we provide training in how to secure resumés,” Jackson said. “We seek to help them determine what their church’s desires are as far as what they’re looking for in a pastor or staff member.”
One of the ways they can gather candidate information is through ALBaptistStaffing.org, SBOM’s online database for resumés and job postings.
Jackson and his associates can take a church’s criteria on age, experience level and education level and use that database to provide them with a pool of candidates that match what they’re looking for.
Dale Huff, recently retired director of the office of LeaderCare, is one of the consultants who helps facilitate this process, going to the office weekly to sort through and classify resumés in the system.
“The church can profile what they sense they need and we can gather resumés based on that profile,” Huff said. “A church has access essentially to all the help they need from state Baptist leaders.”
It’s an Internet database that’s “resource rich,” said Rick Lance, SBOM executive director. “Under Mike’s leadership, we’ll continue to seek ways to improve and augment this site,” he said. “Connecting others through resumé sharing with potential ministry opportunities is a privilege and a responsibility. The State Board of Missions honors the autonomy of local churches and the priesthood of the believer as resources and information are shared with congregations and prospective ministers as they seek God’s will together.”
After the search committee narrows down its candidates, Jackson’s office equips the committee with resources to do background checks, personality tests and interviews.
“We have the ability to do some personality instruments and emotional surveys to help a search committee determine if the pastor would be a good fit for them,” Jackson said.
Follow through and follow up
Jackson’s office also is prepared to help a church walk through the process of extending a call and transitioning to new leadership, he said.
“We’re available to help at any point in the process and at no cost to the church, but we don’t do anything without the church’s invitation,” he said.
Jackson’s office has walked with quite a few churches through the process over the years — Huff alone trained more than 800 search committees in his 25 years at SBOM — and they know how to give a church the tips it needs the most, Jackson said.
“Often a search committee is made up of people who have never been on a committee like that before, and sometimes committees get so swamped and inundated with names that they don’t know how to process it,” Jackson said. “It’s helpful to have someone give you tips to know what you’re looking for and help you work through that.”
And Huff said for many churches in Alabama, their best help could come from their Baptist association’s director of missions.
“Half of our churches are bivocational, and an important need for them is to call someone within a reasonable drive time from their church,” Huff said. “The best help with finding that person often comes through their director of missions, because he knows people in the area.”
Directors of missions are frequently the ones to conduct the SBOM’s search committee training too, Huff said.
“It’s a very personal, functional and effective process.”
How SBOM helps during pastor search process
By Mike Jackson, SBOM director of the office of leadership, church health
- We offer our prayer support. If the contact is made via phone, I generally ask to pray with them before the call is completed.
- We offer to train/equip their search committee. This is provided at no cost to the church because of faithful giving of Alabama Baptists through the Cooperative Program.
- During said training we help them with areas of organization, surveying the congregation, gathering resumés, reference and background process, interviewing and calling of a pastor. We also help them understand the vital role of prayer, to seek God while they are seeking a pastor. This is encouraged for the committee and church family.
- We provide them with forms and resources that will assist their process. A current copy of the Laymen’s Salary Study is given to the group.
- We make them aware of our website for posting staff positions, ALBaptistStaffing.org. This is a free service to our Alabama Baptist churches.
- At the appropriate time in their process we provide resumés to match the profile they submit.
- Once they have narrowed their search to their best candidates, our office can facilitate with various instruments such as DISC and Emotional Intelligence. These personality inventories would help the search committee determine whether the candidate(s) are a good “fit” for the congregation.
- Though we do not recommend directly any one prospective candidate, we do strongly encourage the search committee to use “due diligence” in checking references. Sometimes state missionaries are listed as references. Thus when contacted the missionary responds.
- For ministers looking to be placed, we seek to provide a service for them via our resumé system by allowing their information to be included as we fill the requests from our churches.
- Of course we also provide help for terminated ministers with prayer support, counseling, emergency funds and resumé sharing.