Monday, July 9, 2007

WORSHIP PASTOR SEARCH

What’s taking so long to find a new worship pastor? Great question! The best answer to that question is simply that these searches take a long time, almost always longer than you anticipate.

Some lapse of time between leaders is helpful. When one person leaves, there needs to be a period of re-assessing and regrouping and sometimes healing. It’s been six months since the worship pastor position was vacated. During these six months, we have been aggressively searching for the person God has chosen to fill this important position.

Let me share some of the criteria and strategies we are using in our search. We have advertised the position nationally through two major internet outlets: Churchstaffing.com and Willow Creek Exchange. We have also contacted a few Southern Baptist seminaries and the S.C. Baptist Convention. And then, of course, we have relied on word of mouth recommendations from people both inside the church and outside.

Chapin Baptist is not a totally unique situation. However, with our three completely different venues of worship on Sunday mornings and add to that our student Ignite service and the children’s Believers’ Bay worship, it becomes very obvious that we need someone who has experience leading multiple styles of worship. This criterion in itself significantly limits the candidate pool.

We have not limited ourselves to any age of candidate, although to hire for the emerging generation as well as to balance the ages of our existing staff, our preference is to find someone on the younger end of the age spectrum. We are not limiting ourselves to candidates who are Southern Baptist. We simply want the most qualified person for our setting, someone who loves Jesus, has a healthy family, whose passion for worship is obvious, and who has a proven track record. I qualify the previous statement by saying that anyone we hire, if not Baptist, will adhere to our Baptist beliefs as stated in The Baptist Faith and Message and will become Southern Baptist.

I’ve not kept a running total. But we have received probably in the neighborhood of 250 resumes. Most are not viable candidates due to their lack of experience. We’ve received resumes from all over the country and even a handful from other countries. The candidates have been black and white, male and female, young and old, and represent a wide variety of denominations. Some of the ones we have targeted for interviews reside in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, California, Florida, and Kentucky.

After significant screening, the search team focused our efforts on five men. Of the five, four have either decided to stay in their present location or have already moved to other locations. One of the five, who also happened to be our leading candidate, is still available and is very interested in Chapin. He and his wife have already spent a weekend with us. He met with our musicians and attended our three services. He wants to return to Chapin for a weekend to lead our worship instead of just observing. We have this trip set up for the first weekend in August. After the trip we should have a strong sense of whether this person is the one or if we need to pursue others. Should this leading candidate not work out, we already have a few others for whom we will make arrangements to bring to Chapin for interviews.

Every hire is important. But I think we all understand how strategic the position of worship pastor is. We know that it is through the worship service that people first connect with Chapin Baptist Church. The impact of their worship experience will most likely determine if they will connect with God and with our church. We’re looking for a worship leader who can creatively design worship services that will engage our congregation every Sunday in an encounter with Christ. We’re looking for someone who is innovative and has the ability to implement a wide variety of tools that will result in worship with excellence.

The search team is committed to finding this person no matter how long it takes. It’s better to wait than to hire prematurely. By the way, as I close this blog (sorry for the length—my longest blog yet), will you bow your head and ask God to lead the search team to His person in His time and that this person will lead our church to new levels of worship that will impact our community for His kingdom?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

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