Ways to bring the congregation along throughout the search

Search teams, if they are not intentional about continuing conversation with the congregation, tend to cloister themselves during the search process. They are then caught off guard when the church acts out its search-related anxiety. The search team, after all, knows it is hard at work!

While there are plenty of specific details the search team cannot share with the church at large, it can engage the congregation in the following ways throughout the process.

Listen to the congregation. Consider:

  • What questions does the search team need to ask the congregation along the way?
  • How will the search team deal with anonymous feedback, rumors, and information leaks?
  • How can the congregation be in prayer and discernment alongside the search team?
  • What is the temperature of the congregation at various stages of the search? What does that mean for the search team?

Share with the congregation. Consider:

  • Whom should church members contact if they have questions, concerns, comments, and/or suggestions for the search team? How can the search team advertise this information?
  • How often will the search team report to the congregation, and by what means?
  • What does the congregation need to understand about
    • the state of the congregation
    • the larger landscape of Church and/or clergy life (Consult judicatory or denominational leaders for demographic info if needed.)
    • the process as a whole
    • particular meetings and/or stages of the search? (See “what to report to the congregation.”)
  • How can we help the congregation embrace the minister we recommend?
  • What potential objections must we address proactively?

Other means of including the church in the search include:

  • Asking the congregation to participate in the commissioning of the search team.
  • Creating a covenant between the search team and the church, detailing the responsibilities of each to the other.
  • Displaying a communication map, letting the congregation know whom to contact about what search-related matters.
  • Displaying a timeline of the search, filling it in as the search progresses.
  • Celebrating the search team’s efforts when the new minister is called.