By: Mary Honstead, Ph.D. LP


When we are in the midst of being interviewed for a pastoral position, we often don’t think of it as a collaborative process. Usually, we’re trying to convince the search committee (or in some cases, Staff Parish Relations Committee) of our strengths and assets for the position they’re offering. We’re on the receiving end of questions. But, we also want to make sure that this is a good fit for each of us as individuals as well as for our families. So, the interview can be a time of information sharing that goes both ways. What follows are some sample questions that could be asked of the search committee by the pastor being interviewed.

  • What do you perceive to be the greatest strengths of this church?
  • What are some of the areas that need improvement?
  • What are the strengths of the wider community in which this church resides?
  • What are some of the vulnerabilities of the community?
  • How has this church tapped into the strengths and helped to heal the vulnerabilities of the wider community?
  • What are areas of agreement for people in this church? What are points of disagreement?
  • What has been the biggest source of conflict in this church over the past year or two?
  • What has been the most exciting initiative undertaken by this church in the past year or two?
  • As a parent, what should I know about how much this church (and the wider community) invests in children and youth?
  • How does this church care for its elders?
  • What feedback has this church received about how it welcomes newcomers?
  • What are some of the most revered traditions of this church?
  • When did this church try out something new? Tell me about it including how it was received.
  • What are your greatest hopes and deepest fears for this congregation as you look to the future? How do you see this pastoral role (lead, associate, youth, etc.) contributing to building on the hopes and alleviating the fears? What do you view as the role of lay people in this?

These are just a few questions to “prime the pump.” Based on the interviewing pastor’s understanding of the congregation’s history and context, he/she can formulate other specific questions. Going into an interview with some of these questions in mind can create a more collaborative dialogue that will be helpful to both parties in their decision-making.

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