Tips for a Pastor Job Description

Many of my readers know our family is in the process of figuring out what God may have next for us following the necessity of closing down Living Stones Church late last year. This has involved scouring job openings seemingly relentlessly. While some of these are extremely well written and likely to produce high quality matches between churches and candidates, many (if not most) are almost comical to read.

It turns out there is a secret manual for writing pastor search postings, and I’ve located a portion of it. I probably should not share it on the internet, but I’ve decided it’s the best way to get the word out on this valuable resource. Please forgive my breach of confidentiality of this classified information, but if anyone else has found additional pages in this manual please be certain to share them here.

Tips for effective job postings:

  • When discussing qualifications, your goal is to strike a balance of having high expectations for the role but low expectations for compensation. Do this by asking for the moon, then saying you want someone with 2 – 5 years of experience. Of course anyone who has actually accomplished everything you want will have far more experience, so you will hire them on the cheap.
  • It is hard to be honest about the crumbs you are willing to pay someone who has spent years preparing for this role. If you believe it must be done, give unrealistically low pay ranges that candidates will dismiss quickly. They do not need to believe that you are seriously planning to pay less than Walmart until they are far down the line with your church and have told other potential churches that they are no longer interested.
  • Sometimes it is helpful to be intentionally vague. In the “description” section just say “regular duties of a senior pastor” or “normal things for a youth minister.” This lets you play the candidate’s experiences against them because what is normal to you is much more work than what they consider normal.
  • If you know you will not hire a Calvinist or an Arminian based on the church history and culture, be certain to avoid mentioning that. It is much better to have those people who are clearly wrong in their theology waste their time and energy and hope on your church than to simply be honest from the start.
  • It is important to send the message that the pastor will not be someone you will lovingly follow, but rather someone you will oppressively direct. Make sure that it is clear that any time he is away from the church building for more than 24 hours you have no less than seven means of contacting him at any time of day. But as a word of caution, be careful that you do not write the job description as if you are recruiting a slave. Indentured servant is the tone you want.
  • Sometimes it is very useful to combine several extremely fuzzy expectations into one sentence to make it seem like you are more precise than you really are. Saying something like “Be an ordained preacher able to preach a sermon in the time allotted, be well grounded in the scriptures and able to care for the congregation.” is good because you cover a lot of ground without actually communicating a single expectation.
  • Make sure you have the candidate submit more information than the Secret Service would require to spend a week alone with the President on an isolated island. Never mind that you will never have time to read all this information from the 50 people who will apply. If they are not more serious about finding a role than you are about filling yours then it shows they are not hungry.
  • Remember to ignore labor laws as much as possible and ask questions that would be illegal in any other role. Find out about family problems early as a way to eliminate potential issues that might make you care for your new pastor as a fellow brother or sister. This will limit the pool of candidates to those who you can force to dote on you as an influential member of the congregation.
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