Tag Archive: selection

10 Interview Questions for a Minister’s Spiritual Life

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.

  1. Describe for us your ministry path and the spiritual markers along the way. (Written)
  2. In your spiritual walk, how has God used adversity to mature you? (Written)
  3. Share how you have discipled people over the last five years. (In person)
  4. Please share your spiritual disciplines and practices. (In person)
  5. 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)
  6. What steps do you take to guard and cultivate your integrity? (In person)
  7. 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)
  8. 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)
  9. In what areas of your life is it easiest to demonstrate self-control? In what areas is it most difficult? (In person)
  10. 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.

Continue Reading

A Critical Step in Hiring A Minister


The pause.

The pause is relevant no matter how many ministers you hire.

The pause is critical no matter your church’s governance model.

The pause is a ‘must have’ no matter how long you’ve been hiring ministers.

The pause is, in fact, a pause.

After each step in your selection process with a minister candidate, you as a church leader need to ensure the decision maker or makers (hiring manager, elders, personnel team, whomever) pause.

Once we as church leaders get excited about a candidate and can see how they fit into our church’s future, we sometimes move things forward quickly and don’t stop.

We perpetuate urgency.

When you’re working urgently, you miss things.

A pause in the hiring process accomplishes several things:

  • It makes sure we’re in an Acts 15 moment “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
  • It slows it down for things below the surface to literally rise to the top (some things are only uncovered in time)
  • It allows people to catch up. This is really important for search processes that include multiple people. Most “multiple people” have lives that aren’t solely focused on hiring ministers. So pauses give literal time for people to catch up on the process
  • A pause at each step tells the candidate that this is a process, it includes due diligence, and they too, should be pausing
  • And related to an Acts 15 mindset, pauses allow us to be still enough to hear from God. We want to always be a part of God’s “good, pleasing, and perfect will,” and that may not always match our desired candidate

There are some negatives to pauses. But the positives far outweigh the negatives.

One pause is not enough, I suggest a pause at every significant step (see link at bottom for examples of steps). I’m not suggesting how long a “pause” should be, that’s circumstantial and usually clear to the leader who’s involving others, wants the best, and seeking divine wisdom.

Completing a step doesn’t have to beget another step. In hiring a minster, the paradigm should be: complete a step, pause, and then make decision about whether to take next step.

Pausing could mean you delay having a minister on site by a week or a month. Pausing could also mean you never hire the minister. And in that case, the pause did its job…allowing time for the process to disqualify candidates, or changed the desires of a candidate or the search team, or for the Spirit to provide clarity that only comes from God.

As a practical takeaway, here is an Abridged Version of BBC Selection With Pauses that shows pauses throughout.

p.s. Lifeway President Thom Rainer has written some excellent blog posts recently about what ministers want search teams to know and what search teams want minister candidates to know.

Continue Reading

The Right Amount Of Transparency In Interviews

“I love my family and church too much to enter into a process that’s anything less than transparent. The stakes are too high for us.”


This is the statement I made to my interviewer during his second call in the selection process. The process would mean leaving my church, and joining the staff of another one.

I could only speak for myself, but during that call I also knew much was at stake for the church I was talking to.

Prior to our conversation, I’d determined I couldn’t, with good conscience, misrepresent or conceal things about myself – even things that might steer them away from me as a candidate.

I’ve learned when you conceal things in an interview process, you’re just postponing the inevitable…everyone eventually finds out the fit isn’t so great, and there can be detrimental fall-out.

I think every minister and church seeking a future together has this goal of offering transparency in all things, but carrying it out through the whole selection process can be difficult.

Dealing with things on the front end is worth it. When you are called by God to serve in vocational ministry, it’s imperative you stay honest with those seeking to minister with you.

After I made that comment in the interview process, I began to do what I said I would. All my shortcomings, all their bad church experiences, needed to be on the table.

Now, you can’t rely on either the interviewer or yourself to speak total truth about the situation. You have a skewed view and see things from your perspective – and so do they. That’s why personality assessments and resumes with helpful references are key (two topics I’ve posted on previously).

I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive for good first impressions or that you should share every childhood sin – but withholding relevant information or part of your personality will only hinder the relationship.

God made you who you are. God has a plan for your life. When we try to manipulate appearances in order to get what we think we want, it hurts us and the churches involved.

My suggested practical takeaway if you’re taking to a church or a church in the hiring process: commit to God and each other, to be resolved to be transparent throughout the process. Agree that the stakes are too high to do anything less.



Continue Reading