When a Church is searching for a new pastor, many people ask how they can help the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC). There are several things you can do.
Most important is prayer. Pray for the church, its leadership, its mission, and its future. Pray for the PNC, that the Holy Spirit will guide their work and help them discern God’s call for the church.
Trust the PNC with this vital task of discernment, and then let them do their work without advice or questions, however well intended. Trust them to do their task and to let you know what you need to know, when you need to know it. Encourage members of the PNC by understanding when they are not available for other things, and tell them that you appreciate what they are doing for the Church.
You will quite naturally be curious about the progress of the PNC. However, by PC (USA) and Presbytery policy, the work of the PNC is completely confidential, so no individual can answer questions or provide any information about the work of the PNC to anyone, including church staff and the families of PNC members. Any communication comes formally, from the whole PNC.
The first task of the PNC will be to write the Ministry Information Form (MIF). By gathering the needed information, and writing the document together, the PNC becomes a team, working together for the future of the church. This is a vital part of their work, and it lays the groundwork for the discernment process that is the heart of their task. The PNC will seek to express the vision of the church, as they understand it, making full use of available resources, including the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT).
Once the MIF is written and approved by the Session and Shenandoah Presbytery’s Committee on Pastoral Transitions (CPT), the PNC will begin to receive the Personal Information Forms (PIF) of potential candidates. They will go through a process of discernment, interviewing their top choices. All of this will be confidential in order to protect candidates, the committee, and the Church.
If you know of a pastor you would like to suggest for the committee’s consideration, please give that information to the chair of the PNC (the chair’s name will be available from the church office once a chair is elected). It is not appropriate to discuss potential candidates with any member of the PNC.
Be patient with the process. Careful discernment takes time, and the Holy Spirit is not influenced by our impatience. The search will take as long as it takes to find the pastor God is calling to First Presbyterian Church, Winchester. A call involves mutual discernment: God calls the pastor to the Church and the Church to the pastor. God is faithful; trust that God will call the right pastor and that the PNC will discern the person God is calling to the church.
Once the call is agreed upon by the PNC, the candidate and Presbytery’s CPT, a congregational meeting will be called where the results of the search will be announced. The PNC will report their reasons for selecting the candidate, and the congregation will be asked to call their new pastor. One final task will then remain for the church: to welcome the new pastor and to work him or her in the ministry of Jesus Christ.