The process should look like this: after receiving the ministerial data forms, the pulpit committee needs to pray through the names, see which ministers seem to line up best with their congregation, rank them in order, and then start with the first name on the list and pursue it until there is a yes or a no. If it is a no, you go to the next name on the list. My plea to pulpit committees is to pursue one man at a time. Continue with one candidate until there is either a yes or a no. Trust the Lord to guide you to whom He is calling to be your pastor.
The Bachelorette is a reality TV show where one single woman is put in a situation where she interacts with a larger group of potential suitors. She goes on dates, has group activities, and whittles down the group of men to one man. It seems strange to find a potential husband by dating twenty men at one time.
However, this show’s process of finding a significant other is not unlike the way many pulpit committees seek to find a pastor. Often, pulpit committees will talk with several candidates at one time, even interviewing multiple candidates at one time. There is no hard rule against this practice, but there is some wisdom for not doing it this way.
First, by dealing with multiple candidates simultaneously, you run the risk of splitting the pulpit committee between two or more potential pastors. Who wants to go to a new call knowing that some on the pulpit committee did not want you? Often, the division on the pulpit committee will become known in the congregation. This information can cause unnecessary division and conflict.
Second, pulpit committees who treat the calling of their pastor like a company hiring an employee run the risk of using human wisdom over God’s calling. You compare the candidates and look at their skills and abilities. This process can lead a pulpit committee away from the first and primary question, “Who is God calling to be our pastor?” The question then distorts to become “Who do we want to be our pastor?”