While at Brentwood Baptist, it was typical to hire 7-10 ministers a year. Which meant we probably went through some or all of our selection process 50-60 times. So when I write about the need for insightful interview questions, it comes from a place of need for me (and my church). There are many factors for discerning someone’s spiritual maturity, and that assessment can’t be determined solely by interview questions. However, I’ve listed ten questions I use regularly that help me get a snapshot of a candidate’s spiritual status and trajectory. (If you’re interested, Brentwood Baptist’s full selection process is available for a nominal cost at equippedchurch.es).
In recent previous posts, I’ve listed both my favorite initial interview questions for a church staff member and also my go-to questions when I’m moving from the discovery phase to the drill down phase of interviewing.
While those sets of questions are important, questions specifically related to their spiritual development is key in our process for our “minister” positions. Below are ten questions that have prompted the most telling responses from candidates. In some cases we have them answer in writing so they have time for an in-depth response – whereas other times, I prefer to have them answer in person (I’ve noted my preference of written or in person after each questions below).
Since I want to understand the person’s spiritual reality and not their preferred or aspirational spiritual life, I try to ask questions just a little bit differently so they’re unlikely to reply with their stock “Sunday School” answer.
- Describe for us your ministry path and the spiritual markers along the way. (Written)
- In your spiritual walk, how has God used adversity to mature you? (Written)
- Share how you have discipled people over the last five years. (In person)
- Please share your spiritual disciplines and practices. (In person)
- What evidence is there in your life and ministry that you are leading in the power of the Spirit, and not out of your own abilities and strengths? (Written or in person)
- What steps do you take to guard and cultivate your integrity? (In person)
- Are there any areas in your life that could be considered by Biblical standards to be out of balance or in excess? (Written or in person)
- What steps do you follow when you sense disagreement or conflict with someone in your church? Give us an example where you used the steps. (Written)
- In what areas of your life is it easiest to demonstrate self-control? In what areas is it most difficult? (In person)
- What are you reading in Scripture currently? What are you learning? (In person)
Just as a practical takeaway, make sure you’re prayed up before you host these interviews. Further, I’ve found it helpful to pray underneath my breath multiple times during an in-person interview, “Let me listen the way You’d listen, and not listen out of human-ness.”
Interview and hire well — it matters to our churches.