The Make-up of Your Search Team
[excerpt from The Pastoral Search Journey: A Guide to Finding Your Next
The pastoral search team has a tremendously complex task - but one that can bring many rewards. Before
discussing the search team membership, consider several important perspectives about the team. A search team
is given the task of discovering the person God would have pastor their church. It could be said that your
team needs individuals with a combination of both head smarts and heart feeling. For that reason, team members
should rank high in four areas: spiritual sensitivity, ability to work well in a team setting, listening
and communication skills, and an active role in the ministries of the church. While search team members will
be at different levels in the four areas, they must all have an enthusiasm for their task. It is this
enthusiasm that will carry them forward through the long process ahead.
The search team needs a strong leader to serve as chairperson. This person should be comfortable leading in
a team setting, have gifts and skills in organizing, administration, encouragement, stating consensus, and be
comfortable speaking to groups. Strong clerical support is also needed. The amount of paperwork generated
by and tracked by a secretary can be overwhelming to an individual unfamiliar with handling agendas, minutes,
letters, and phone calls, to multiple people--all at the same time. In choosing members for the team, the
church board should decide on who they want to serve as chairperson and secretary, and approach these two
individuals on a one-to-one basis. There may be occasions where the chairperson and secretary may share
duties, and this approach may be useful where people have qualms about their ability or time to serve.
The Make-up of the Search Team
It is critical for the search team to be made up of a cross-section of the membership of the
congregation. As you consider names, think who can represent the youth, the older members, the ministry teams,
and importantly, the board. A good balance of gender and age is positive. You should not, however,
compromise having qualified members who fit the four areas above simply to have all cross-sections
represented. There should be at least one member who is also on council. The team does not have to be
large. Eight members is optimum. As you consider team size, remember the pros and cons of the different
With more than eight on a search team:
- Pros: You may gain a larger cross-section of the congregation, the skills helpful to run an effective
search, and have more people to share in the tasks.
- Cons: Discussions, conference calls, and decisions become more difficult, and the meetings will have
to be very structured and may last longer.
With eight or less on a search team:
- Pros: Discussion, conference calls, and decisions can be better managed, meetings can be less
structured, and greater intimacy is possible.
- Cons: More will have to be done by less people, there may be less of a cross-section of the
congregation represented, and some skills may be less available.
Preferably, the board selects the individuals asked to serve. Letters should be sent by the board
to each person being asked to serve, explaining why they are being asked, and identifying their task.