We are soon to make a decision about calling a pastor. Because it is one of the most important decisions a church makes I want to have a discussion with you about how this decision should be made. I have recently heard horror stories about how several Baptist churches went about making this decision.
One church contacted the powers that be at the state convention headquarters soon after their pastor retired and sought guidance. A convention official (whom they had never met before and who knew nothing about the church) met with the deacons and urged them to call a man he knew, Pastor X, to be their next pastor. Two weeks later Pastor X preached on a Sunday morning and following his message the church voted to call him—knowing nothing more about Pastor X than the information contained on a one-page resume that the convention official had provided them.
Another church formed a pulpit committee as per their constitution and the committee quickly got to work sorting through resumes. They did their work diligently and arrived at agreement about a candidate to recommend to the church. The committee presented the candidate to the church for the first time on a Sunday morning and, following a sermon preached by the candidate, the church voted to call him.
I called these “horror stories” because both churches—actual churches I have first-hand knowledge of—disobeyed the clear instructions God has given us for calling a pastor. Listen to Paul’s directive in 1 Timothy 5:22
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
The laying on of hands is a metaphor, or a symbol, for calling and installing a pastor. Paul’s point is clear. If a church calls a man to the ministry without doing all the things to check him out that are clearly laid out in the Scriptures, the church shares responsibility for the sins that pastor may later commit. Churches invite chaos when they disobey God in this and fail to thoroughly vet, investigate, and question any man who would serve as their pastor.
In my blog posts to come in the next several days, and perhaps weeks, I will be examining what the Scriptures have to say about calling a pastor and offering an opinion or two along the way. Check back tomorrow when we will look at another mistake churches often make.