Leadership Reading List: Before You Go

Everyone who has served on a church staff at one time or another has gone through at least one job search.  Very few people that I have met actually look forward to the job searching process, and everyone I know is always looking for better ways to get to know the churches that they are interviewing.  Last month I saw a random tweet (I wanted to give credit, but couldn’t find it) for Wade Hodges’ eBook Before You Go: A Few Sneaky-Good Questions Every Minister Must Answer Before Moving to a New Church.  Out of curiosity I went ahead and bought the book (even though I don’t have a kindle) and found myself wishing that I had asked a few of these questions during my last job search.

The book is a basic walk through of three major parts of a pastor’s job search: internal questions that need to be answered by a pastor, questions for the church search team covering everything from vision to church finances, and finally a few words on how you know you have found the right fit.  I think this book will greatly help pastors focus themselves during the job search, and will help search teams think through the process in a different way.

Three questions really stuck out to me, and I think we all need to think through:

  • How will YOU be different at a new church?  So often when we leave a church we think about how things will be different at the new church.  We fantasize about the new church and how much easier life will be there because it is new and different.  The problem with that thinking is that while the church will be new and different, you will pretty much be the same… unless you are intentionally working through your own junk.  If you think that your next church will make it easier to control your temper, not look at porn, or be more loving towards your wife you are probably better off working at the Home Depot.  Deep soul change is not the result of geographical change.
  • Can you leave your ideal church behind?  Or, maybe a better question is “are you willing to love the new church like Jesus loves you?”  The problem with the ideal church is that once you step foot in it, it is no longer ideal.  Every church has its’ warts, wrinkles, and blemishes… the question is are you able to handle that and still love the place warts and all?  Just a heads up, this section of the book is worth the cost in and of itself.  
  • Are the elders and staff tithing?  Yeah, go ahead and read that one again.  This question is not only guaranteed to turn the awkwardness level in the room up to eleven, but it is also going to give you a great deal of information about the church:
    • How supportive are the elders and staff of the church’s vision?
    • How comfortable are the elders and staff with having difficult conversations?
    • This can help ferret out any hidden dysfunctions within the staff and elder team.
    • This will also communicate that you are willing to “go there” (so you had better be).

If you are looking to hire, or to change churches in the near future you need this book.

Interested in reading this book for yourself?  Leave a comment before Saturday July 23 at noon eastern.  I will be giving away a copy to two random commentors (spreading the word on twitter and everywhere else is appreciated, but not required).

What tips do YOU have for the pastoral job search?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Pingback: Leadership Reading List: Before You Go – churchthought.com « Feeds « Church Leadership()

  • Chris DuBose

    I am a pastor, and I changed churches about two years ago. I was much mire prepared the second time than I was the first time. But I still walked away thinking, “I should have asked this or that.” I would be interested in reading this book. I am currently in seminary, and I would like to be much more thorough when that time comes again.

    • http://www.churchthought.com Matt Steen

      Thanks, Chris… what were some of the questions you wish you had asked?

  • Mark

    My family and I left the overseas mission field to pastor in the US and I didn’t ask any of these questions. It lasted one year. I’ve been on staff at a church now for almost 4 years and I am still wrestling with “warts” I didn’t know existed when we moved. It’s easy to get so lost in the excitement of moving to a new place that we forget to remove our rose-colored glasses. I was interrogated but there was little time and effort devoted to reversing the questioning process.

    I would have discovered more about the church, but more importantly, the leaders would have seen me as “willing to go there” which would have put our relationship on a faster track of growth.

    • http://www.churchthought.com Matt Steen

      Sorry to hear it has been such a struggle, but it sounds like you are slowly getting there.  I agree with you that we become so obsessed with the shiny newness of a church that we forget that we need to be interviewing them as well.

  • dwpoyner

    I would love to read this book.  I’ve been at my church for 11 years and would have no idea what to ask if I was looking.  I’m guessing that some of these questions could still be pertinent for those not leaving as far as evaluating the ministry.

    • http://www.churchthought.com Matt Steen

      I think this will absolutely help in the evaluation process… both personally and ministry wise.  Thanks for commenting!

  • Chris

    Wade is a good guy I’ve had a chance to talk with on a couple of occassions. As a reader of his blog, I’d love to give this a read.