Pastoral Search Process

Searching for a new pastor is critical in the history of a church.  Here are some ways in which some other churches have done this successfully.

  1. Here is a quick checklist from Logan Leadership.
  2. A Plan with some guidelines.
  3. Another approach

Job Desciption

The Missionary Church Constitution has an outline of the duties of the Pastor that says: “A pastor shall be an example to the flock of God by keeping himself free from all worldly entanglements and above reproach in all matters of conduct and finance. It shall be his duty to preach the Word; to exercise prayerful and diligent oversight of the church, watching for the souls thereof as one that must give account; and to seek earnestly the salvation of the lost, that in all things he may be approved unto God. The pastor shall be recognized as head of the local church and shall be responsible for the public services and general promotion of the church activities. He shall be an advisory member of all committees. It shall be his prerogative, with the approval of the church board, to arrange for all special meetings and to engage the necessary help for the same.”

Based on this and the local church’s culture and vision it is important for the pastor and the church that a clear job description is developed when looking to engage a pastor.

Some examples are in these various links.

Free Church Forms

Salary Guidelines

Many details need to be considered when creating a compensation package for a pastor.  The Missionary Church urges churches not to gloss over planning this carefully in your expression of love for your pastor(s).  Taking advantage of various tax benefits can save both pastor and church time and money in the long run.

Some of the items to be taken into consideration are outlined in the tabs below.  However, this Guidestone guide is a comprehensive approach to what to consider.

Here is the latest information from the Missionary Church related to pastor’s salaries and here is the latest statistical information on salaries throughout the MC.

This site sponsored by the Lilly Endowment uses the  Church Law and Tax listed below and draws together into one searchable platform information on salary levels, a salary calculator, job comparisons, retirement and debt calculators, and more.  For a small fee, congregations can receive a one-time report related to a specific job, or they can pay an annual fee for unlimited access.

ChurchLaw&Tax, a ministry of Christianity Today, has a Compensation Handbook available for purchase at their store.

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance is a major financial burden for individuals, pastors, employers and the nation.  Please consider carefully how the church will help pastors with this area of need.  We would encourage very clear conversation between church leadership and pastors about this issue and that the church makes sure that pastors have some form of coverage.   An increasing number of pastors are able to be added to their spouse’s coverage at a more reasonable rate than obtaining their own and a church could pay that instead.


Setting up an HSA for the pastor is also helpful as that is pre-tax money and the church and/or pastor can contribute to it.  The amount is limited to a maximum set by the IRS and HSA contributions are only possible with certain medical insurance plans.


Central, East Central and North Central churches and the denominational office are able to participate in a regional medical plan. This health plan is currently serviced through Pro-Claim Plus of Fort Wayne, Indiana and includes life insurance for participants as well.  If interested in eligibility, additional information or cost of coverage, please contact Pro-Claim Plus at 1-800-821-2150.


For those not able to participate in this plan many other plans are available in the market place, from private insurance companies or various Christian medical cost sharing ministries.   Depending on their specific needs, pastors have found any of these solutions to meet their requirements of cost vs. coverage.  The market place and insurance companies vary depending on location but below are some links to Medical Cost Sharing Ministries.

Samaritan Ministries

Christian Healthcare Ministries


Brotherhood Mutual has recently started providing assistance with Medical Insurance for churches.  It is not on their website yet, but call them at 800-333-3735.

Vacation Guidelines

Vacation guidelines – One Region of the Missionary Church has recommended that the following guidelines be followed in the administration of vacation policy for full time Senior and Associate Ministers serving our churches:

2 weeks of vacation after 1 year of approved ministry

3 weeks of vacation after 7 years of approved ministry

4 weeks of vacation after 15 years of approved ministry

Regional or Local Boards may grant more vacation time based on fewer years of service than the guidelines state, as such “approved ministry” takes into consideration the number of years the pastor has been in ministry even before serving the current church.

Vacation time is exclusive of denominational and regional conferences and camps.

Sabbatical Guidelines

Today, the role of pastor is truly under pressure from many sides, probably more than at any other time in history.  The stress that accompanies a ministry calling can have a substantial negative effect on those in this caring profession.  Since over 40 percent of pastors acknowledge having high stress levels at least once or twice a week, and 12 percent almost every day, there is a need to bring healing, hope and renewal to those called ‘pastor.’    Many of the responsibilities they assume are emotionally and spiritually draining.

Sabbaticals offer leaders a change of pace, a chance to slow their activity level, even a complete rest long enough to be strengthened and healed.  That time away is most effective when it is included in a compensation agreement, when it is required by a caring congregation.  Many ministers are facing burnout, yet they are reluctant to make that fact known even to their own leadership team, let alone the congregation.

Here is an excellent article from Focus on the Family outlining the need, the plan and the policy regarding a sabbatical.

The Western Region of the Missionary Church has some good resources, too.

Retirement Planning

The Missionary Church has an agreement with GuideStone to plan and manage retirement funds for churches and pastors.  The company also provides many other resources related to financial issues that pastors and churches face.

Pastor Appreciation

Every October is Pastor Appreciation month. Thousands of churches throughout the United States and other countries find special ways to honor and express gratitude for pastors.

The Missionary Church is blessed with well over 1200 pastors, men and women, who have given themselves to the Lord by serving His local church. Many have given up other opportunities to pursue this call on their lives and it has likely been a sacrificial choice for them and their families. The leadership of the Missionary Church thanks God for their sacrifice, commitment and service! We celebrate them! We appreciate them!

Being “loved on” by the people these pastors serve is so meaningful to them. Since each pastor is different and their needs vary significantly, the ways in which you can put “flesh” on that love is limited only by your imagination.  Here are a few ideas to help celebrate your pastors:

  • Provide pastor and spouse with a night out that includes free childcare and a gift card to a restaurant.
  • Have different members of the congregation sign up to write a card of appreciation every day – it does not need to have a gift card included but if that is what the Lord leads the person to do, great!
  • Go visit pastor/family and pray for him/her.
  • Give a gift to pastor’s children.
  • “Shout out” on Facebook or other social media about how much you appreciate your pastor – be specific.
  • Leave a gift basket of fruit/vegetables/whatever on the doorstep, ring the doorbell and see if you can hide so they don’t know who it came from.
  • Give a gift card to a spa, nail salon, facial, massage, etc. – most likely the ladies would like this J!
  • Pay for a night’s stay at a nice hotel.
  • Put a whiteboard in the lobby and have people put words of encouragement on it for all to see.

For even more fun ideas, check out this blog. You can also find fun ideas on Pinterest or Google.

Let’s “love on” our pastors all the time, but especially every October.  When you do will you let us know how it went? We’d love to brag on you in future Missionary Church publications.

Staff Evaluations

The vanderBloemen Search Group suggest a six step approach to evaluation of staff, from the senior pastor to any other person you want to evaluate.

  1. Compose Questions
  2. Select Survey Software – or how to receive the feedback
  3. Send Out the Survey Request
  4. Let the Surveys Begin! Send the survey to the boss, peers, and direct reports and the team member themselves should also complete the survey based on his opinion of his own performance.
  5. Provide Feedback Report– Provide the team member with an analysis of their results where they can see a comparison of the feedback from their boss, peers, and direct reports.
  6. Self Analysis– After each staff member receives the feedback report, allow them time to process the responses.

As the leader of your team, be sure to set aside time with each team member to discuss their results. Assessments make us vulnerable and are often uncomfortable to face, especially for the first time. Listen well as your team members discuss what they learned about themselves and their team dynamics throughout the assessment process. Leadership development is one of the signs of a healthy church. Comprehensive church staff reviews will allow you and your staff to learn more about yourself as individuals, as a team, and as a church.

Here are some examples of evaluations used by other Missionary Churches.  Sample 1.    Sample 2.   Sample 3.   Sample 4.

Website Filtering

With internet access available 24/7 on computers, tablets and phones and the number of sites and pop-ups that are not conducive to a godly Christian life it is important to consider a church’s policy on internet filtering for its staff.  This needs to be approached not in order to become a watchdog, but rather to encourage and help the staff to remain pure.

Many good filters that can be part of the policy are available from a number of ministries such as Covenant Eyes or X3Pure.

Statistics regarding pastors are not encouraging. The Francis Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development reports that 35-40% of ministers last less than 5 years in the ministry. Many statistics show that 60-80% of those who enter the ministry will no longer be laboring in the ministry 10 years later. Whether these statistics are right or not, it is clear that there are struggles with persevering in the ministry. I would suggest that the reasons below are the greatest struggles to perseverance in the ministry:

Conflict: This is arguably one of the biggest surprises to young pastors. Conflict happens in the church; and it happens all the time. Those in ministry will often be called upon to mediate conflict, navigate the waters of a conflict, and are regularly the target of much conflict. Pastors will find that there are hateful, petty, arrogant, rude, brooding, and discontent people in their congregations. Unfortunately, and coming as a surprise to many pastors, is the fact that the unconverted don’t tend to cause the majority of conflict; it is the converted who often launch the hardest persecutions. As William Still one said, “They want their part of the Gospel or their emphasis, usually that which they wrongly think does not touch them, call upon them, or challenge them.” It is also the true that pastors are often the source of conflict themselves. Sin, errors in judgment, and mistakes in leadership can cause firestorms.

Encouragement: When pastors are engaged in conflict, they must search their own hearts to see if their passions are out of control (James 4:1-2). Has sin had a way with them? This must be their first and foremost concern. However, most pastors will find that a great deal of conflict in the church will not be a result of their own personal sin. To survive, a pastor must not carry every burden and conflict. There are times to “let go” and move on. Thick skin and a tender heart are good traits for a pastor. You must teach without fear the whole counsel of God, stand by your convictions, and be winsome; but let the chips fall no matter who may be offended.

Discouragement: What a foe this can be. It can drain zeal and the very life out of ministry. Pastors may labor for years and see very little fruit (1 Corinthians 3:2). Yet, they are called to continued labor. People under your care may continually disappoint. Where you thought progress had been made, there can be a sudden and awful turn to sin with no remorse, repentance, or seeming conviction. You can begin to doubt your own effectiveness, gifts, and even calling.

 Look for little glimmers of God’s work and grace. We often miss the small encouragements He sends our way, because we are complaining about not seeing more. Be thankful for every blessing. And continue to allow yourself to be surprised by peoples’ actions and sins. Don’t become cynical. Read good biographies of saints, who labored long and hard for the good of the Kingdom. Find a Barnabus (“Son of Encouragement”) or two (Acts 4:36), who will talk you off the ledge and feed your soul. Lastly, don’t forget that our work is spiritual and the world’s measuring stick is not our measuring stick.

 This is real and not to be dismissed. We all know that suffering is part of the Christians life (Matthew 10:3816:24) and it is often the case that pastors experience this in great measure. This can come in forms as various as persecution, financial hardship, and family trials related to ministry.

 Be aware of the persecuted Church and regularly pray for it. It will keep your mind and heart steadied when persecution comes. Expect to suffer and prepare your family for suffering. And when the suffering comes, plead with God that you might grow to see it as a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ (Philippians 1:27-30). Continue to look to the example of others in church history and to the cross as you seek to persevere.

 This may be the number one reason pastors give for why they left the ministry. The hours can be long, the phone calls can be late, the concern for others can be unending, there are no three-day weekends, and the vacations can be few. The job can be spiritually, emotionally, and spiritually tiring. In addition, too many men complicate the situation by keeping the candle burning at both ends. The result is that they tend to be exhausted in a few years.

 Have a Sabbath each week–keep it, safeguard it, and enjoy it. Don’t feel like you have to be at every event and minister to every person. You aren’t omnipresent or omniscient, so don’t act like it. Take vacations with your family. The men who brag about not using all their vacation days are not super-spiritual, they are super-foolish. Take breaks from email. Schedule regular private retreats where you can spend time alone with the Lord in prayer. Schedule a couple of days every quarter or twice a year. Find people that encourage, refresh, and feed you. I am always on the lookout for a Philemon (Phil. 1:7), who refreshed the souls of those around him. The benefit of these people cannot be overestimated.

Cares of the World:
 Business, family, money, position, prestige, and ease can be like the Sirens in Greek Mythology. Their cry can be loud and enticing. And when entertained, they can devour.

 Consider Demas as a ready warning (Colossians 4:142 Timothy 4:10Philemon 1:24). None of us are ever beyond these temptations. Recognize where you are most easily seduced, pray with your wife regularly about it, and let your fellow elders know.

 The pastorate can be a very lonely place. Everyone in the church knows you (for some pastors, everyone in the community knows you), yet no one “knows” you. Pastors can stumble into the habit of thinking they are above or outside the body of Christ. Pastors can fall into the temptation of thinking that they no longer need others ministering to them. And when this happens, ministry becomes very lonely (and deadly).

 Let people know your need of them (Titus 3:12). Don’t be shy about asking for their help, support, love, and friendship. Be willing to allow others to minister to you (Philippians 2:19-29). This requires showing weakness and not pretending to have all the answers all the time. Find someone to pray with regularly–another pastor, elder, lay-leader, or friend. Someone you can share struggles with. A person who will be thrilled to hear about your life, ministry, and will strongly encourage you. Trust your wife, nurture your marriage, and allow her to have a full-view into your soul.

Moral Failure:
 This is too often the cause for pastors leaving the ministry. Lying, slothfulness, adultery, and coveting tend to lead the list. Nothing is more devastating to the Kingdom or the local church. A pastor’s sin has the potential of touching and affecting a myriad of lives. One fall and an entire church or even an entire community can be discouraged from Christ.

 Don’t be busy about Kingdom work and forget Kingdom life. Rise early to pray (Mark 1:35). Refuse to turn in for bed on Saturday night until you are affected with the sermon you will preach Sunday morning. Allow others the freedom to confront you! Your own personal holiness, by God’s grace and according to the work of the Spirit, must be your greatest pursuit. Know and believe what Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne said, “My people’s greatest need is my own personal holiness.” Without a holy pastor they will be like “sheep without a shepherd.” As William Still said, “It is the godly character which is the real pastor, or is the basis of him.”

Perseverance in the ministry will always be a challenge. And in many ways it should be. This itself is a blessing. However, it seems that each year we lose a lot of good men due to one of the reasons above. We should know these trials to ministry, seek to actively combat them, and discuss them with every seminarian and young pastor. Who knows, there may be a few more that persevere as a result. And what a blessing that would be for the Church.

Refreshing Mercies Ministry is a ministry to hurting people to give guidance on their journey of grief, transition, or tragedy. Through opportunities to meet on a daily basis with many hurting individuals, couples, and families healing and encouragement has been experienced through prayer and counsel.  The ministry is developing a retreat center which will be a place of healing for people to come for a two night stay, away from daily distractions, in a restful and comfortable setting.  They will be guided and provided with activities designed to promote healing in a learning, creative, and spiritually renewing environment.

The Constitution of the Missionary Church (Article XVI: District Conferences subtitle E: Ministers, section 7: Discipline of Ministers.  P.32) details the process to the discipline and removal of discipline (restoration) of a pastor.

All members in the church are expected to conduct their lives according to the standards set forth in Scripture and those who hold positions of ministerial leadership in the church are held to an even stricter accountability. Such conduct includes moral purity, personal honesty, and biblical fidelity.  Ministers are to be consistent examples of authentic Christianity as they seek to emulate the character of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and exemplify the promotion of the unity of the church rather than seeking to divide it.

The purpose of Discipline includes the following:

  1. Encouraging the sinning member to repent, thus restoring him/her to fellowship with Christ and the church
  2. Warning other members against such sin.
  3. Upholding and maintaining the moral purity and blameless testimony of the church.

Care needs to be taken that the entire process of Discipline be carried out and enforced in a spirit of Christian love, care and sensitivity with the underlying goal of restoration and the removal of Disciplinary Status and possible reinstatement.

Though not by design but from experience some of the Missionary Church leadership have been very effective at walking with pastors through the disciplinary process to the point of restoration and reinstatement to ministry.  This is a sensitive but essential part of being the church so we encourage you to contact your leadership for direction.

One of our regional staff members is on the board of PIR (Partners in Pastor Renewal), a ministry that can come alongside churches and pastors in this very delicate process.

A pastoral transition might be the best opportunity for a church to move to a new level of ministry.  However, even though in general it is taking longer for churches to come to a decision on a pastor, the leadership of a church can feel pressured to rush into a decision on a candidate when a Senior Pastor leaves.

On occasion it might be advantageous for the church to consider an interim pastor.  Two reasons for this are

  • Stability in the transition to the next Senior Pastor
  • Intentional Self-study and development of a plan before hiring the next Senior Pastor

The network leadership of the Missionary Church can help in this process and might at times recommend obtaining the services of an interim pastor.  A number of pastors are available to a local church as an interim through the MCUSA.

An organization that specializes in providing local churches with interim pastors and have proved useful to a number of Missionary Churches is Interim Pastor Ministries. 

A Pledge of Brotherly Commitment for the Core Leadership of the Missionary Church

We pledge together as followers of Jesus Christ and fellow leaders entrusted with the responsibility to lead the Missionary Church…

  • To honor, trust and respect each other
  • To have direct and open communication with each other in spite of stress or disagreement.  “…speaking the truth in love.”  Ephesians 4:15  NIV
  •  To keep short accounts and take action without delay to repair relatonal issues.
  • To pray regularly and faithfully for each other.
  • To “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32  NIV
  • To protect, think the best of and give each other the benefit of the doubt when faced with a negative report.
  • To encourage each other and affirm each other’s work and contribution to the team by virtue of one’s personal value and standing in Christ
  • To endeavor to invest at least 1 hour daily in personal prayer-5 days per week
  • To endeavor to fast and pray at least 1 day per month for the next year.
  • To be alert and intentional about building personal connections and relationships for the purpose of evangelism and discipleship.
  • To “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  I Peter 4:8  NIV