Six Updates from Churches with Pastoral Vacancies

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear from a church searching for a pastor. As I have taken mental notes from these conversations over the past few months, I have noticed common themes. Here are the six of the most common developments I have heard from leaders of these churches:

  1. It is taking longer for churches to decide on a pastor. About ten years ago, you could expect a church to take about six to nine months to find a pastor. Today, it is more common to hear the range increase from nine to eighteen months.
  2. These churches have many candidates; but they say most of them are not qualified candidates. Each church seems to have a different idea of the desired qualifications for a pastor. Though they all seem to insist the pastor must have basic biblical qualifications, their preferred qualifications beyond that vary from church to church.
  3. There is more frustration from both the churches and potential candidates. The churches express frustration because they can’t find a qualified candidate. Many candidates express frustration because they can’t seem to find churches willing to respond to their expressions of interest.
  4. More churches are giving up on traditional processes to find a pastor. In the past, many churches depended on their denominational organizations to find a pool of candidates. Today, only a small number shared that the denominational path was their preferred alternative.
  5. Churches are turning to internal candidates more frequently. This trend may be the most pervasive. Some churches begin with an intentional process toward an internal candidate. Others get an internal candidate by default.
  6. More churches are screening candidates by listening to their podcasts. They thus avoid the potential awkwardness of going to a candidate’s current church. They also do not ever need to let candidates know they are being considered until they make a decision based on the podcast.

Many of the comments I hear from churches and candidates come through this blog and other social media. If your church is looking for a pastor, I would love to hear from you. I also appreciate hearing from those of you who are looking for a church. Of course, I am always happy to hear from any of you.

Posted on September 22, 2014

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Rev W Bill Watson says on

    Do you feel that it would be wise for a senior, seasoned minister of 77 years to make application for a pastoral posotion?

  • K eith Mckenzie says on

    An unusual pastor (54) seeking an unusual church to pastor out of the Bahamas. I live in the Bahamas.

  • Stephen Asaye Oluwaseyi says on

    I have a Master’s holder in Theology, I look up onto some church to fulfill my duty toward the God of the universe but i have it difficult to be accept i don’t know why

  • Greetings. i am a pastor in Zimbabwe Africa and the Lord has commissioned me to spread the gospel outside of the continent. i have 11 years experience and have studied in Malaysia and in South Africa. what i find puzzling is that no church outside of the continent is willing to even consider me. i thought that The Holy Spirit led churches to the right pastor. Are we truly being led by the Holy Spirit. ifyou read the book of Acts the book Spirit of Truth led the Apostles where to go. is that not what should be happening the church prays and God directs them?

  • I have read several replies and agree Whole heartedly.I know the Holy Bible Very Well and have a gift to make it a biography of Jesus. I Lack the College education but,Scripture says that I need not that Any Man should teach me. I am a People person and have served at many levels with several people.I even personally patented and copyrighted a board game that I call My Faith With Works.I seek a Full time ministry position and can’t even get an interview.

  • Keith O. Williams says on

    I am a 41 year old minister seeking to pastor a church in Virginia. I have a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies and some years in ministry and preaching. I find it is difficult to find a church because they are looking for candidates with divinity and doctorate degree. I am very interested in pastoring, but the search is becoming a losing battle. Any advice?

    • Elder William Wilson (November 24, 2022)

      There seems to be a disconnect with the need in churches for a strong Pastoral Leadership. Some church Organizations have very strict requirements for need to fill a life changing vacancy. Pastors are called and anointed by God to meet a specific purpose for a specific region and congregation. Preaching and serving other Pastors during the last 41 years, have taught me to understand the necessity and urgency for the right Shepherd for the set ministry we are to be assigned to as God touch the heart of the churches needs. Moses was only sent when the people really cried out for deliverance. When some churches get serious about going forward in this season, their eyes will open and see the Davidic or Joshua annointing on the Pastoral successor.

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