"QUESTIONS" -- (with KEY)


Copyright 1993, Tim Arensmeier


(Not given to candidate, but used by the search committee.)

Questions are grouped into categories roughly reflective of Christ's answer when asked about the greatest commandment:  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and body; the second is like it -- love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37 - 39)  The additional questions which are not numbered may be viewed as part of, or extensions of the emboldened questions.  Normally, during an interview, various members of the committee may proceed to ask additional questions under the general headings or initial questions. [Bracketed] "KEY" thoughts follow to assist in what the questions are generally intended to solicit.




1.  Tell us about your devotional time - interests - habits - life.


[The idea here is to learn about his relationship with God through Christ.  Does he "legalistically" spend a specific, limited time each day?  Or, has he learned that those times, like finger scales for a pianist, are the initial learning process which should expand into 30 minutes, an hour, a morning, a day . . . yes, into a "devotional life!" -- while never neglecting the basics.]




2.  Describe for us your relationship with your wife.


How often do you make time to "date" her?
What part does she feel she plays in your life and work?
What have you recently encouraged her to do toward her own development?
Tell us where you and your wife went on your last scheduled time alone, and roughly the date of that time.

May we ask your wife these questions?


3.  How do your children see you?


Are you a friend to them?  Do their friends "hang out" at your home?  Do their friends come to you for counsel?
How often do you make special time just to be alone with each of your children?
Describe your last special time with one of your kids.
If a young couple were to model your relationship with your wife and children, would you be pleased with the outcome?

May we ask your kids these questions?


[These questions obviously come from I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, having to do with an Elder's family being under his loving leadership.  In Question #2., we're specifically looking at his relationship with his wife as reflected in Ephesians 5:21ff.  Or, as my own wife, Jan, says of the subject: "As the wife, so goes the ministry."  Show me a wife of a man seeking this position who is loved and knows it; I'll show you a man who can probably serve a church and lovingly lead it.  If the family is too often neglected, so will that person's church be neglected, at the areas most important.  The suggestion that we ask others the same questions ought not to be taken as veiled threat.  We should follow up and do it!]




4.  Tell us what goals you see necessary for any pastor of any church?


[We're looking to hear something like:  He should major on uplifting Christ, by consistently expounding the scriptures, so that the congregation will be able to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Comments relating to being a model for others to follow, in learning what it means to "follow Christ," would also be positive.]


How many Sundays in a year do you plan to "not preach," so that others might open the Word of God to the congregation?

How will you relate to gifted, qualified lay leaders in the congregation?  Does the term, "Work yourself out of a job" challenge or intimidate you?


[If he wants to preach more than around 36 Sundays a year, watch out!  We don't want a "one-man-show."  Part of what this may reflect is whether or not he is willing to try to "work himself out of a job."  That's what we want to see in a senior pastor.  If that's in his mind, then he will be looking for people with leadership qualities who may be developed, trained, groomed and ultimately launched into areas of ministry responsibility.]


5.  How do you see yourself relating to other staff members?


Specifically:  Would your previous colleague(s) describe you as a "team player?"  What responsibility for their development do you feel?  Can you illustrate what developmental goals you've implemented for other staff members, associate ministers, etc.?

May we ask him - them - these questions?


[Above all else, considering James 3:13-18, we don't want a man at the helm who is not a "servant leader."    We're looking to the Lord to discover a man who will be "approachable" (from the J. B. Phillips translation).]




6.  What is your general familiarity with church history?


Are you conversant on the major counsels of the church?
How comfortable are you at unfolding major doctrines of the church?
Specifically:  God, Man, Sin, Redemption, Eschatology.


7.  Take as much time as you need to tell us your understanding of the Gospel; and how Justification and Sanctification are related to each other.


[Of specific interest at this point is whether or not the candidate has an accurate working knowledge of the doctrine of salvation.  Too many pulpits in our land are filled by men less than adequately trained in the "sound doctrines."  Where justification and sanctification are taught equally, sanctification normally eats up justification such that people come to believe that they are saved by their works, rather than seeing sanctification as an outgrowth of justification and empowered by it.]


8.  How secure do you see yourself in general biblical knowledge?


If asked to "walk us through"any book of the bible, would you feel comfortable accepting that challenge?  Please explain your position on the inspiration, authority, sufficiency and clarity of the scriptures.


[The questions which are conspicuous by their absence deal with academic or professional degrees.  They didn't make the list which was inspired by God in I Timothy 3, and Titus 1.  Formal education is not to be eschewed, nor is the man who doesn't have one.  The issue is, does he qualify according to God's standards?  If he does, let's consider him.  Regarding his view of the scriptures -- we must be looking to discover whether or not he holds a "high view" of the inspiration, authority, sufficiency and clarity of God's Word.  If he doesn't, we will find him equivocating on minor issues, which will ultimately allow him to take passive positions on major matters of God's revelation of Himself in His Word.]




9.  Who is the person in your life with whom you've been "in the trenches" sufficiently, that were you down to your last quarter and wondered if it's worth it all, he'd hear from you?


How many are the men in your life to whom you are totally accountable?  And, reciprocally, are they equally accountable to you?


[Since clergymen are the third fastest divorcing group of professionals in the United States of America, let's insure that there is an attitude of accountability, especially considering Proverbs 27:17, and Hebrews 3:13.  Taken together, they reveal that men (people) absolutely need to be in a relationship of reciprocal accountability, or they will "...become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."  A similar thought unfolds from I Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him who thinks that he stand, take heed lest he fall."  God forbid that any candidate for this position feel that he is "above" any sin.]




10.  Why are you interested in seeking this position?


Tell us how long you feel you could serve this church, and based on what part of your own history.


[Aside from the obvious - why are you leaving your current (or why did you leave your past) position?  Does this man have the idea in mind that he is committed to growing for the cruise?  Or, does his track record of moving every three to seven years reflect on his having done some work in the past, but it's merely being recycled, and when he has completed his "barrel" he needs to go on so that he may appear fresh?  Never hesitate to query the candidate on his prior position.  If all at his current position are positively enthusiastic about him, check it out.  They may want him to leave!]



"Questions" -- (with Key), Copyright 1993, by Tim Arensmeier, currently serving the Sonoma Valley Community Church, Sonoma, California.

Telephone:  707/938-8100.

Web Posted on May 28, 1999
Updated:  April 18, 2002
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