Churches attempting to fill a pastoral position usually designate a pastoral search committee to handle the job vacancy. This committee is responsible for announcing the search for a new pastor or associate pastor. It also is responsible for screening pastoral candidates and conducting face-to-face interviews. When expressing interest in a pastoral position, it is important to submit a professional cover letter to complement your resume. The cover letter allows you to introduce yourself to the committee in a warm and friendly manner, while disclosing your religious persuasion and qualifications.
1. Include your return mailing address, the current date and church mailing address in the header section of your cover letter. For the church mailing address, address the letter to the church's “pastoral search committee.” Usually there are several individuals on the pastoral search committee. All individuals are equally responsible for selecting and hiring a pastor. For this reason, refrain from addressing the letter to a specific individual.
2. Include the pastoral search committee's name in the opening salutation. If the outgoing pastor is still serving at the church, out of respect, address the letter to the pastor as well. As an example, write “Dear Pastoral Search Committee” or “Dear Rev. Doe & Pastoral Search Committee.”
3. Write the first paragraph of your cover letter. In this section, express your desires to be considered for the pastoral position and why you want to be considered for the position. Briefly mention your your faith or religious beliefs and your passion for ministry. Keep the first paragraph limited to five or six sentences.
4. Wow the committee in the second paragraph of your cover letter. Mention your ministry experiences, whether volunteer or paid. Mention your seminary training and credentials, including pastoral counseling. Mention a little about the church's history and how your ministry beliefs and techniques align with the church's current ministry structure. To do this effectively, you may have to do a little research before writing your cover letter. Visit the church's website to learn about the church's history and mission.
5. Write the final paragraph of your cover letter. In this paragraph, advise the pastoral search committee that you have pastoral recommendation letters. Mention the names of the pastors endorsing you. Let the committee know how much you would love to sit down and meet with them to further discuss qualifications, as well as your vision for taking the church forward.
6. Close the cover letter on a professional and friendly note, such as “Sincerely” or “Graciously.” Make the letter more personal by including your handwritten signature after the closing.
About the Author
Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and "Truth & Church Magazine." Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.
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When there's a vacancy on your church staff, the search process can feel daunting and overwhelming.
It's hard enough to get everyone on the same page and craft an effective job description. Then, you as the pastor search committee are tasked with discerning how to evaluate candidates for the role.Our team here at Vanderbloemen is passionate about helping churches understand that a candidate is much more than a resume. You can't fully capture a person on one sheet of paper. A resume should be one tool of many that helps you evaluate whether or not a candidate is the right fit for the role.
Finding a new staff member for your team is not only a big job, but one to be handled with discernment and care. Here are five tips for helping your pastor search committee begin to think through the process of evaluating the resumes of candidates you're considering.
1. Get organized.
The first step to considering candidates and finding the right person for your church or organization is to get organized. Get everyone that is involved on the same page and pick a date, time, and location to begin the evaluation process. This may be one day for several hours or multiple days for several weeks, depending on the timeline and amount of candidates.
Gather all of your tools and gear up. Whether those tools are highlighters and pens for evaluating paper resumes or laptops for online resumes, organization is key.
2. Set parameters.
Hopefully by now everyone on the search committee knows the specifications for the particular position that is being filled. Make sure that everyone is on the same page about what the musts are and where the leniencies can take place regarding candidates.
Must this person need to have a post-graduate degree or can they have a bachelor's degree and certain amount of experience?
Maybe you want a candidate that comes from a certain size ministry or a specific background. Maybe you're looking for a proven ability to grow teams. Whatever the specifications are set by your search committee, make sure everyone knows them clearly before you dive in.
3. Check your biases at the door.
Each one of us has lived extremely different lives and has individual experiences. Because of that, we may enter into situations unintentionally carrying around various biases.
For instance, if you have an eye for design, you might be biased toward aesthetically pleasing resumes with appealing fonts and strategic word placement. If you highly value education, you might lean more towards resumes with heavy education credentials.
It's extremely important that the pastor search committee identify potential bias and do their best not to overlook a resume due to bias throughout the evaluation process. Focus on the content of a resume and not the look (unless the position being filled is, in fact, a graphic designer!).
We cannot take our biases into a candidate search with us.
Before you begin evaluating, take a step back, put on your neutral thinking cap, and focus on the relevant skills and traits of each and every candidate.
4. Take breaks.
Evaluating resumes for long periods of time can be daunting. Eventually, your eyes may begin to cross. Make sure to take intentional breaks to give your brain and eyes a rest so that you can focus on each resume with as much gusto as you viewed the first one.
Remember that these candidates are real people that have taken a leap to apply for this position. They each deserve the same amount of respect and time throughout the evaluation process.
Although this step is listed last, it is by far the most important.
At the end of the day, we all know that God is in control of who will be brought to the church staff position you are filling. He is in control as your search committee works through the process. Take time to pray over the search, the search committee, the candidates, and your church or organization as you work through the process of finding the right person that God has called to your team.
What tips have you found most helpful in your search committee's evaluation process?
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