In preparation for my assignment to Grace Chapel (by God’s sovereign will) I had already served in four other churches. One of those churches was the role of Senior Pastor. Because of my experience in candidating before, my wife and I were resolved to ask the right questions, this time, to ensure we had a proper understanding of the church’s heart, context, and vision. Below is a comprehensive list of questions a pastor should ask in an interview.
General questions about the church
- Can you please tell me about your children’s ministry?
- Please tell me about your high school and middle school ministry?
- Where do most of you people come from who attend [Grace Chapel]?
- What is the greatest reason that new people visit your church?
- When people come visit, do they return? Why or why not?
- Do you still hold to the fact that you are a “Missional church”? If so, what does it mean to you to be missional?
- What are the things that are untouchable (sacred cows)?
- Is the tithing of the congregation broad, or are there just a few who tithe? It is often 80% not tithing and 20% tithing; is this true at [Grace]?
Questions about the Sunday worship service
- What is the planning process to determine the order of Sunday’s service?
- What is the chain of authority as to who influences the Sunday service?
- What is the role of the elders in planning and leading this service?
- What is the purpose of the worship service? For whom is it directed—saved or unsaved?
- What are the people longing for the most from the preaching ministry?
- Would I be given broad leeway to preach a theological position based on liberty of conscious (i.e. Moderate Reformed) – or is church-specific doctrine held in a dogmatic fashion?
- What is your view of Scriptures – inerrant and infallible?
- What is your plan of evangelism/outreach— local or global?
- What role do the people play in the evangelistic efforts of the church?
- What are your convictions on spiritual gifts such tongues, prophecy and healings?
- What are your convictions on divorce and remarriage?
- What are convictions on the use of alcoholic beverages?
- What translation of the Bible does your congregation use?
Elder and staff governance questions
- Are there any major staff changes that need to be made in the next one to two years?
- Is there a current leadership development track for staff to grow in depth or position?
- What are the qualifications and process by which you choose your elders?
How often are your elder meetings right now?
- Do you have a formal office of Deacon? If so, please explain. Can I please see your current organizational structure?
- In your view, is the staff unified?
- How are changes made at [Grace]?
- What is “shepherding” understood to mean at [Grace]? How does it happen? Would people describe [Grace] as a church that cares?
- Are there any items that require a church vote or approval?
- Besides the staff and elders, who are the key influencers at [Grace]?
Questions about the past
- Can I please see your last few years of metrics (Attendance and giving)?
- How many salvations and baptisms did you have last year?
- The year before that?
- Have you ended each year in the last five years under or over budget?
Questions about the future
- What is [Grace Chapel’s] unique ministry position for the [South Denver] area?
- Do you have a current communication strategy – internally, eternally, etc.?
- With a heart to regain those who left this church and have not found a new church home, do you think the list of past members and attendees could be leveraged to invite people back to [Grace] when you get a new senior pastor?
- Do you have any hopes or dreams for your current property?
- What is the greatest risk you face in the future, besides the placement of a new senior pastor?
- Have you all dreamed about church planting – if not are you open to this?
- What excites you the most about the future of [Grace Chapel]?
- What do you want to be known for in the future?
Questions about the Pastor position
- What is your expectation of the pastor’s wife and family?
- What are the strengths that attracted you to me? What are your reservations?
- What would you consider a “win” in your new senior pastor?