Maintaining a personal touch during a search process

10 May

As a pastor, I’ve sat on both sides of the search process on various occasions. I’ve been the searcher as well as the searchee. I’ve experienced searches done well and some done poorly. I’ve been complimented and/or criticized of the same. As a result, I appreciate when a church communicates well and demonstrates a personal touch during what can be an impersonal process.

This past week, one of the churches I applied to sent me a note with a curious, yet perceptive question. They wanted to know if I was coming to Boston next week for my daughter’s college graduation. If so, could we meet face to face? While they weren’t necessarily near Boston, their location in western Massachusetts was much closer to Boston than our home in Seattle.

Their question revealed several things to me:

  • One is that they paid attention not just to me, but also to my family. They weren’t merely concerned with my education and experience. They also noticed where my children were and what they were doing.
  • A second observation is that they went the extra mile in doing their homework. Not only did they notice my youngest daughter is a senior at Gordon College, they must have gone to Gordon’s website to find out when the commencement ceremony was.
  • A third observation is that the search committee shows flexibility and can adapt. They were willing to skip ahead a few steps and take advantage of our travel schedule. (In contrast, I interviewed with a church several years ago who was very rigid in maintaining their process. Despite the fact that I only lived 20 miles from the church, they insisted on a phone interview because that’s what they did with all their candidates.)

While we don’t know yet if God is leading us to serve him there, the relationship seems to be starting off on the right foot.

During interviews like this, I am reminded of the words sung by Kermit the frog in “The Rainbow Connection” in The Muppet Movie—“There’s not a word yet; for old friends who’ve just met; part heaven, part space; have I found my place?”

It should be an interesting meeting. We’ll see what God does and how he leads.


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