Reprinted from the Autumn 1993 Edition of Essentials

This is the first in a series of practical articles designed to help parishes, incumbency committees and pastors to become more effective in extending God's kingdom. The other articles will cover topics including:

how to develop a parish profile
how to best interview a potential rector
how to form a short list and how to discern the right person
how to conduct a ministry review

In this article we will look at developing a job description or profile for your pastor.

Leadership is important

It is clear that the number one factor in growing churches is leadership. The leadership factor is related to issues like having God's vision for the parish, introducing change effectively, and equipping people for ministry. The traditional qualities of sound Biblical preaching and worship leading are important but not enough to ensure the growth of a church. The issue of leadership becomes important when a church is vacant. It is equally important for a healthy church to ensure that good succession will take place when there is a vacancy.

Essential priorities and values

Having observed some three dozen parishes looking for a new leader I have noticed that very few have a profile of the person they are looking for. While a parish should not be too definitive, some priorities and values should be generally acknowledged as being essential. This will also help the candidates to be clearer about their own position. I remember one parish that regarded the most important task of the minister as the preparation of couples for marriage. Another parish listed the three top qualities as ` "Jesus-centred, Biblical ministry and Teaching/preaching". Another church recently defined the three most important tasks of its leader as:

  1. to establish the vision for the parish and keep the goals and priorities clearly before the members
  2. to lead the ministry team, setting an example by the minister's own spiritual maturity and Christian commitment
  3. to equip the members so that they can reach their full potential in making disciples

Don't be too vague

The main mistake made by churches in setting out a job description is to be too vague. On the other hand there needs to be a clear recognition of the pastor's spiritual gifts so that he or she is not expected to concentrate on wrong tasks but can focus energy where the results will be most fruitful. For example, if the leader does not have strong gifts in administration or music then that needs to be recognised.

Tasks, reviews, coups and key values

The task description should include a list of the main tasks that are to be undertaken, a statement about the method and time of any review; the lines of responsibility and authority (so that the leader can lead without encountering constant coups) and the key values the pastor would be expected to model and teach.

It would be a helpful thing for each parish to clarify its expectations of the leader by forming a job description.

Peter Crawford is Vicar of St Mark's Emerald in outer Melbourne