Often a church will be prepared to ask a potential pastor a number of questions to find out whether they believe the candidate would be a good fit. However, since this potential relationship is like a marriage of sorts, it behooves the candidate to ask questions of the representatives of the church.
Here is a sample of the kinds of questions the candidate could (should?) ask:
A. Tell me the history of this church
1. What is the history of the church?
2. Are the founders still members of the church?
3. What have been the attendance patterns of this church for the past three years?
4. What is the history of your most important programs and activities?
5. What is this church’s pastoral record (I do not need personal information)?
a. How many pastors have you had from beginning of the church?
b. How long were their terms of service?
c. Briefly, what were the reasons for their leaving (resigned, retired, or fired)?
B. What demographic information about the church and community might be helpful?
1. What is the socio-economic composition of this church?
2. Does this church reflect the surrounding neighborhood or local community?
3. Is this city growing or declining?
4. What is the economic health of the city or town?
5. What is the socio-economic composition of this city or town?
6. What is the housing affordability and availability?
7. Are there zoning laws which would affect home gatherings, church’s growth, potential church expansion, etc.?
C. Tell me about the church’s vision, mission and goals
1. Why does this particular church exist?
2. Who is the church trying to serve?
3. Does the church board have a vision and/or mission statement?
4. What specific goals does the leadership of this church have?
a. What short-term goals does the leadership have?
b. What long-term goals does the leadership have?
5. How do you communicate the church’s vision, mission and goals to the congregation?
6. How often do you communicate the church’s vision, mission and goals to the congregation?
D. Describe the various philosophies and practices of ministry:
1. Tell me about your philosophy of worship.
a. What is this church’s philosophy and practice of worship?
(1) How long have you practiced your current form of worship?
(2) What is the style of worship?
(3) Will adjustments or changes be permitted with the worship service(s)?
b. What are your theological and philosophical views about baptism?
c. What are your theological and philosophical views about the Lord’s Supper?
d. What is your philosophy and practice of music in worship?
(1) What are your views or policies regarding choir, praise team, or solos?
(2) What do you believe about special music?
e. What is your philosophy of preaching?
(1) How do you define preaching?
(2) What styles of sermons do you expect?
(3) Do you have any concerns about the length of the sermons?
(4) Do you conduct formal evaluations of the pastor’s preaching? By whom? How often?
2. Tell me about your philosophies and practices regarding the fellowship of the church.
a. How would you describe the relationships most of the members have with one another in this church?
b. Approximately what percentage of the people have an active commitment to this local church?
c. Do they faithfully pray with and for one another? Do you have congregational prayer meetings?
d. In what ways is it evident that this church expresses the love of Christ to one another?
e. What are some ways this church practices mercy toward one another?
f. Are there obvious exclusive cliques?
g. Describe obvious ways that show how members enjoy one another’s company and fellowship.
h. What percentage of the church practices regular hospitality?
i. What kinds of things does this church do for fun and recreation?
j. What things do the women do for enjoyment together?
k. What things do the men do for enjoyment together?
l. How does this church promote the health of families?
m. How does this church promote the health of singles?
3. Tell me about your Christian education philosophy and practices
a. How is Christ being formed in this church?
b. What is your philosophy of Christian education and edification in this church?
c. Does this church have a plan for Christian education?
d. What is your view and practice of children’s ministries?
e. Do you have a philosophy of ministry regarding the relationship between a family with children and the church?
f. What is your view and practice with Sunday school?
g. Tell me about your philosophy of youth work and about employing a youth director.
4. Some additional questions:
a. What is your philosophy regarding counseling within the church?
b. Do you have formal membership? If so, what is the process for becoming a member in this church?
c. What is your philosophy regarding church discipline?
d. Does this church have an active program to promote peace and unity among its membership?
5. Tell me about your leadership
a. Who are the official leaders in this church?
(1) Are there elders? How many? Tell me something about them.
(2) Are there any deacons? How many? Tell me something about them.
(3) Are there any potential elders and deacons? Are they in training?
b. Who are the real power brokers in this church, the people who wield the most influence?
c. How does the leadership demonstrate biblical love toward one another?
d. How does the leadership demonstrate biblical love toward church members?
6. Describe this church’s outreach philosophy and practice (i.e. local and foreign ministries of God’s Word and mercy through evangelism and missions)
a. What is your philosophy of outreach?
b. How is this church fulfilling the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20?
c. As a whole, is this church actively and regularly declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ? How?
d. Is there an active commitment on the part of God’s people to seek and form fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ?
e. What has this church done in the past five years to reach the lost in this community? Do you have any current programs oriented toward outreach?
f. Are there any new converts attending now?
g. In what ways does this church conduct Christ’s work of mercy in this city?
h. Is there a commitment to seeing and helping new churches be planted?
i. What does this church do to help to encourage, to train, or to send out missionaries?
j. What percentage of the church’s budget is committed to outreach and evangelism and missions?
l. What is your philosophy regarding the church’s involvement in social issues?
E. Tell me about your church policies
1. Do you have, and if so, may I see your written constitution and/or by-laws?
2. What policies (written or unwritten) do you have for:
a. The nursery?
b. Children in worship and/or children’s church?
c. Child abuse prevention?
d. Who may teach in the various forums of this church?
e. Counseling within the church?
f. What ministry roles may non-members be involved with in this church?
g. What may women do in this church?
h. What may youth do in this church?
F. Church Finances
1. What is the financial health of the church, now and historically?
2. Can you tell me about the congregation’s pattern of giving during the past three years?
3. May I see the church budget to learn how the resources are allocated?
4. Does this church have fund-raisers, pledge appeals, etc. throughout the year?
5. Is there any indebtedness?
a. How much?
b. What percentage of the annual budget is the debt?
c. Is this related to a building program?
- Is there a building program now or expected in the near future?
- What is the biggest fiscal challenge presently?
- What is your philosophy of remuneration (salary and benefits) for the pastor?
10. If the church were to receive a sizable contribution (such as $100,000.00), what would the church do with it?
G. Some questions about my fit for this church:
1. What is it about my profile and resume that interests this church?
2. What are the apparent, obvious needs of the church that my gifts might serve?
3. Does this church have a job description for my position or must I develop one?
4. What expectations do you have of your pastor?
5. Can you describe your expectations for an average work-week for my position?
6. Will I have job evaluations? When and by whom?
7. Are you interested to learn about my dreams, goals or vision for ministry?
8. Are you willing to allow me to do what I do best according to my calling, gifts, talents, personality, etc.? How would I know?
9. Does the church provide time or financial provisions for my enrichment and educational opportunities?
10. What are some ways this church will help me refresh and recharge?
H. Additional information:
1. What do you consider to be the good thing(s) about this church?
2. What things can be improved?
3. What makes this church unique or different?
4. Are there congregational problems or issues about which the pastor will immediately need to address with the leadership?
5. What “traditions” are solidly established? Are they untouchable, unchangeable “sacred cows”?
6. What things may never be changed?
7. How big is too big for this church?
8. What reasons do new members give for joining the church?
From Appendix A of The Perfect Pastor? (Xulon Press) 2007.