In denominations without bishops, we find our own pastors via denominational opportunities lists. (Please correct me, Bishops, if I’m wrong about this.) Essentially, bishops assist congregations in finding/assign congregations new pastors to the point that it’s possible to have one pastor leave this Sunday and have a new pastors arriving the next Sunday.
As for Presbyterians, we often take A Long Time. It honestly doesn’t have to be this way and there are avenues for calling a pastor faster. But these are some of the situations that elongate the process. Take note Pastor Search Committees:
- The church refuses to consider clergywomen. This is especially true for Asian-American and African-American congregations. I know many exquisitely gifted women of color who are not considered in the pastoral searches of Asian-American and African-Congregations, and so they seek calls in multi-cultural congregations.
- The church wastes time looking for someone who looks like their ideal pastor on paper and/or in photos. I often watch Search Committees spend a year or so looking for Pulpit Candy (thank you SC) only to realize that those pastors are not what they need at all.
- The church is not equipped to find a 21st Century Pastor. Especially for congregations who haven’t sought a new pastor in 20 years, they don’t know that Things Have Changed. Pastors of thriving congregations today are not only solid preachers, teachers, and worship leaders. They are also gifted in teaching pastoral skills to their leaders. They are acquainted with terms like agility, resilience, emergent, missional ministry, and positive deviance. Many congregations need to assess cultural changes and have some Come to Jesus conversations about their future before seeking their next pastor.
What else slows down the process as far as you have noticed?
Note: it doesn’t have to be like this. It doesn’t have to take so long to call the right spiritual leader, but congregations have to be willing to be coached by people who want them to thrive and grow.