A few years ago, I served on a pastoral search committee. After the church leadership asked me to serve, I immediately felt the weight of the responsibility to find a pastor for our church. Little did I know what faith-building trials lay ahead for our committee.
No matter the church, no matter its size or circumstance, looking for a new pastor is challenging. For members of the search committee, the process involves hours of work: reading resumes, listening to sermons, and interviewing candidates. It also requires pursuing unity of mind and purpose among all the members of the committee. I expected all of that. But there’s one thing I didn’t anticipate when I agreed to serve on the committee: spiritual attack.
During the year-long process, the members of our committee faced illness, hardship, and tragedies in our personal lives and in the lives of loved ones. These trials demanded our time and divided our attention. Hardships and medical issues kept people away from our weekly meetings. Our commitment flagged. At times, weary and frayed, the members of our community struggled to foster unity with one another.
We were under attack.
Satan Hates Search Committees
Our adversary, the Devil, doesn’t want a search committee to succeed. Consider the goal of a committee: to find a godly pastor to preach God’s Word and strengthen his kingdom here on earth. A search committee, then, seeks someone to oppose the works of the Evil One, to speak truth against his lies, and to snatch slaves from his death-grip.
As Paul wrote to the Ephesian church: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
From the beginning, our committee made a commitment to fast one day each week. We prayed daily as individuals and together at the start of each meeting, doing as Paul urged—“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18). We shared our requests with the whole church so they would be praying as well. Alongside God’s Word, prayer was the sharpest weapon in our arsenal.
If your church is seeking a new pastor, your search committee needs you to pray. They need you to stand against the evil forces at work to undermine their labors. Here are four specific things to pray for.
Pray for the unity of your committee. There are many potential areas for disagreement, both small and big. Members will have to figure out which qualifications are negotiable and which aren’t, and what makes for a good sermon. Some will like things about a pastoral candidate that others don’t like at all. Some are willing to overlook things about a candidate that others aren’t. Unity is essential for the committee. If they aren’t united, they’ll struggle to settle on a pastor to call. And their disunity will spread to the rest of the church, likely creating wider discord.
2. Spiritual Strength
Spiritual attacks can easily overwhelm a pastoral search. Before I started on the committee, previous members were adamant they didn’t want to serve on the committee. I assumed it was because of the time commitment. But I soon realized it had more to do with the spiritual attacks.
Pray for your committee to stand strong. Pray for them to seek Christ in the midst of the many distractions, challenges, and hardships they may face in their personal lives. Pray also for their families—Satan will often attack them as well.
Pray for your committee to filter through the many resumes to find the pastor who best fits your church’s needs. Pray they’d set aside distractions and secondary issues and focus on what’s important. Pray they’d be able to quickly identify pastors who wouldn’t be a good fit for your church. Pray for the many decisions they must make.
The search-committee process is a long process. It takes most churches at least a year to find a new pastor, some even longer. People will regularly ask, “Why haven’t you found someone yet?” The committee will ask themselves the same question. They’ll grow weary from the work and discouraged when the applicants don’t fit their standards. Pray for your committee members to have endurance to find the pastor you need.
It’s a great privilege to serve on a pastoral search committee. But it’s also hard work. It’s work that keeps committee members from their families. It’s work that often breeds disagreement and even discord among the members. But most of all, it’s work the Evil One wants to frustrate.
So pray for your church’s search committee, making supplication to the Father on their behalf. They need your prayers more than you know.