Thursday, October 31, 2013
...read the previous three blog posts on checking references on prospective preachers.
Several years ago, an elder from a church searching for a preacher asked me to send a résumé, three tapes, and three references. I told him I would be glad to do that. I then asked him to send me the average attendance and contribution for the past five years, three tapes, and three references.
He asked, “Why do you want me to do that?”
I asked, “Why do you want me to send my information?
He said, “Because we don‟t know you.”
I replied, “I don‟t know you. I need that information for the same reason.”
I call this, “equalizing the pressure.” The examination phase should not be one way. A successful try-out is determining if we fit, not getting the invitation to come. If we talk and find out we do not fit and do not work together, we are just as successful as when we talk and determine we fit and decide to work together.
I like to interview the preachers for past twenty years, secretaries, members, members who left the congregation happy, members who left the congregation unhappy, and preachers for congregations in area.
I prefer talking in person. Often that is not possible or practical. If not, I call, tell my purpose, and ask for a telephone appointment. I ask for up to an hour of their time, determine when it is convenient, and call back. I establish a rule of confidentiality and proceed to learn what I can that will be helpful in assessing my fit with this congregation.
Questionnaire guidelines that I have used:
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
…continued from last month
In my opinion, the minimum of checking references should be a detailed time of questioning the references listed with at least three more references that the person did not list. I like a guideline: Preacher Reference Form . This helps my thinking and gives uniformity when more than one person is checking references. I adapted this one from the Minister Transition Packet prepared by Dr. Charles Siburt. I recommend that churches and preachers considering transition get a copy of this book assembled in a 3-ring binder and read it from cover to cover. It is the wisdom and forms from many books, congregations, and individuals and contains ideas that will help discern how to handle a change. You can order this material: Minister Transition Packet . There is also one prepared for selecting youth ministers. Order from this email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Churches can prevent much heartache by doing adequate checking of references, background check, and credit check. A man with nothing to hide will not mind. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). I want to listen to the person’s strengths. I have noticed some. That’s the reason I am following up. I want to hear about his weaknesses. If the reference doesn’t know or tell at least one weakness, I discount the reference. He may not know the person well enough to know his weaknesses. He may not want to tell. I want to know to determine if we can live with what we don’t like about each other. One of the questions that has been very productive for me in checking references is the Golden Rule Question: Matthew 7:12 – "If I were in your place and you were in mine, what would you want me to tell you?"
Next month, I plan to discuss preachers checking references of churches.