If you are on your way to become a pastor and dedicate your life to the holy service of the Lord, or if you are considering becoming one in the future, then you would surely like to know what you need to go through before you actually become one. Churches conduct thorough interviews to identify the right person for the role of a pastor working with them, and you must be prepared for that interview if you want the job. Here in this article, we take a look at some of the broad questions that can be asked during an interview for the role of a pastor at a church to help you get a clear idea of what to expect when you sit down with your interviewer. We believe this will go a long way in helping you realize your dream, and once you have reached the end of this article, the interview will be a piece of cake for you.
A church is not just a piece of complex architecture with large doors and windows. While the structural beauty of some churches is definitely breathtaking, it is actually the people associated with it and the culture and ambiance they nurture under the church leadership that make a church what it is. A pastor who joins a church will have their work cut out, fitting in with the existing cultural values at that particular church and connecting with the believers who come to it, believing it to be a house of the Lord. Being a pastor requires a good amount of education and experience working in other churches in junior positions to that of the pastor, such as an associate pastor. However, sometimes even experience is not enough to land a role as a pastor as it may not have been acquired at the right kind of church, that is, a church which does not embody the same kind of values that are being looked for. A pastor must be excellent at communication and have good interpersonal skills. They should also be a good leader. Therefore, an interview for the role of a church pastor will be conducted to assess whether candidates possess these qualities. The following are some of the broad questions that can be asked in the interview and ideal ways of answering them. Let’s check them out:
How did you come to the Lord?
While the church is definitely a holy place, and pastors spend their time in holy service, they are also supposed to be competent at their job, just like in any corporate setting. This question is the corporate equivalent of ‘Why did you choose this career?’ The church would want to hire somebody who is motivated and can effectively take the message of the Lord to the masses. A good way for the candidate to convince the interviewer of their motivation is to tell a brief personal story of how they found the Lord. It is important to be honest in an interview and not exaggerate one’s personal experiences too much. Somebody who is personally motivated will be a good fit for the role.
What is your idea of good leadership?
As mentioned earlier, a church pastor must be a good leader and guide. It is their job to lead the believers down the road of salvation towards the Kingdom of God. Therefore, the church would like to know what sort of leadership principles the candidate upholds as ideal to understand whether the candidate’s ideals align with the broad cultural landscape of the church. A good leader must be accessible to everyone and have effective communication and people skills. The candidate should mention previous experiences where they worked in leadership roles at other churches and their duties. Knowledge of proper principles of leadership coupled with a sensitivity towards the specific needs of the church in a candidate will be looked upon favorably.
What Christian leaders or pastors do you follow and why?
It would take a tremendous amount of religious knowledge to be a church pastor, along with the zeal to keep on learning. The interviewer would like to see that the candidate makes an effort to keep up with newer ways of interpreting religion. A good candidate would list some names of some well-known theological writers, radio hosts, religious leaders, etc., that they like following and their reasons as to why. The candidate should talk about how they consume their content, such as through social media or religious publications. This will show that they are passionate about their work and give the church a way to assess their preferences.
Tell us about a time when you dealt with someone on your team who was not living according to Biblical principles.
Part of being a leader is correcting those on your team who have gone astray. A good pastor should have the ability to spot a member of their church when they have deviated from the path of the Lord and bring them back. The interviewer will be looking for a show of compassion and love on the part of the candidate and a firm belief in Biblical truth. The candidate should talk about how they would sit down with the errant member and dedicate some time to hearing them out if they face any problems, either at home or the church. They should say that they would resort to gentle means such as advice and explanation, instead of coercion to persuade the ember of changing their ways. A graceful response that embodies the biblical principle of universal love and respect will impress the interviewer.
What is your approach to reflecting the love of Christ to individuals who do not regularly attend church, or have decided against it?
A pastor often has to deal with people whose faith in God has been shaken or those who do not consider it important to pray. While a pastor must always try and convince such people to consider coming to the church daily, the church needs to know what sort of approach the candidate would adopt to judge whether it will be effective and in line with the church’s broader values. It is important for a pastor not to be condescending or forceful while persuading people to visit the church. The candidate should always operate within the biblical principles of divine love and protection accorded to every individual on earth, irrespective of their belief. People who have lost their faith in God may have a valid reason, and the pastor needs to let them tell their story to understand where they are coming from. The candidate needs to display patience and perseverance in their response to be considered for the role.
Tell us about your own relationship with the Lord.
Of course, the church needs to know how the candidate connects with the divine to understand whether they will be a good hire. There is no one good answer to this question, as it is very open-ended. The candidate needs to be absolutely honest in their response as they talk about their relationship with God. They can talk about how they imagine the Lord to be, how they pray to him, and what they ask for. They may also go into some deeper details about what they perceive to be their purpose on earth as designated by the Lord. They can also briefly mention how they started believing in God and what has made them stick to their belief. Overall, the church will be looking for a candidate who is sincere and honest in their beliefs.
Tell us about a time when you handled a tragic situation that adversely affected members of your congregation.
In times of crisis, people naturally turn to faith for hope. It becomes incumbent upon the pastor to play a guiding role during such times, and it becomes a test of their leadership. Hard times often affect people’s faith in the Lord, and the pastor must strive to keep their house in order and their congregation motivated. To demonstrate that the candidate has it in them to fulfill this duty, they can talk about any previous experience where they had to help the congregation members go through difficult times, whether it be disease or disaster. They must show love and compassion in their ways and the ability to act as rock-solid support in hard times. If the candidate does not have the said experience, they can talk about what kind of approach they would adopt if such a situation arose.
Tell us about a time when you were given responsibilities that were beyond your ordinary duties.
The mark of a good leader is to able to step up to challenging situations and deliver. A good way of testing this in an interview is to look for experience in this regard. Therefore, an interviewer will probably ask the candidate to demonstrate their leadership skills through their experience. A pastor is also a leader to his congregation, and by extension, to the people who visit the church. The church needs to know that if the candidate is faced with bigger responsibilities than their job usually entails, they will be able to take charge and deliver. The candidate will have to display confidence and experience in their response.
Have you always led a righteous life?
Nobody is perfect, not even pastors. The purpose of this question is to test the candidate’s self-awareness. It is unlikely that the church will believe a candidate who says that they have always been true to the Lord and have never sinned. A candidate should talk about their faults and past mistakes openly and honestly and then say how they have overcome them and strived to stay righteous. The candidate needs to display a capacity to learn from their mistakes and the willingness to forgive others for their sins. There is no greater sinner than the man who pretends to be righteous while sinning.
How do you balance your family life with your duties at the church and the congregation?
The church needs to know that the candidate is generally organized in their life and can handle the duties of a pastor and take care of their family’s needs at the same time. A disorganized person will eventually mess up everything and disappoint the entire congregation and their family as well. The candidate needs to show that they have a happy family who has an overall disciplined lifestyle. They need to show that they can concentrate on their holy duties and attend to the congregation’s needs without compromising on their family. After all, a pastor often has to act as an example for their community. Maintaining a healthy professional life and a good family can be construed as an indirect duty for them.
So now that you know what to expect in an interview for the role of a church pastor, you can become a leader of men in the house of God. Of course, it takes a lot of dedication to selfless service of the Lord and a passion for helping individuals out in their times of need and providing emotional support to them to be a pastor. But, if you have the zeal and the skills, you should definitely go for it. Plus, church pastors reportedly have the highest levels of job satisfaction in America, so you can be assured that you will be happy in your time as a pastor.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What sort of degree do I need to be a church pastor? You would require a Master’s degree in theology or religious studies in order to be a pastor at a church.
- Does having served as a youth pastor count as experience in an interview for the role of a church pastor? Absolutely. Somebody who has worked as a youth pastor will know their way around a congregation and will find it easier to discharge their duties as a pastor.