1. Is he a good Christian man? Pulpit eloquence, organizational, promotional
and social skills are for nought if he does not "live soberly, righteously
and godly" (Tit. 2:12).
2. Is his wife a faithful Christian whose conduct, dress and demeanor are becoming of a women professing godliness? (I Tim. 2:10). Is she supportive of her husband's work as a gospel preacher? No matter how good the preacher is, with a poor or antagonistic wife he will be severely handicapped in his work.
3. Are his children reasonably well-trained and supervised? Just as with elders, "if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house how shall he take care of the church of God?" (I Tim. 3:5).
4. Is he knowledgeable in the Scripture? Inquire of his bible education and study habits. Too often churches find they have a nice minister who just cannot preach or teach.
5. Is he loyal in dedication to the Scriptures as the supreme standard in all things relating to faith and practice? We live in dangerous days when apostasy is evident in many quarters. Make sure your man holds "the pattern of sound words" of the gospel (II Tim. 1:13).
6. Is he capable of delivering reasonably good sermons and classes on an ongoing bases. Every preacher has a couple of good "try out" sermons. The vital question is will he, wear well over a period of years? Some fine Bible scholars are complete failures as public proclaimer of the gospel. Look beyond the tryout lessons.
7. Does he, have the necessary social skills to enter the homes of the community, working with Christians and teaching the lost. In our age, most conversions will result from home Bible studies rather than the pulpit. When problems arise, hurting saints need a sympathetic soul to whom they can turn. Some men, who are without equal before an audience, shrink from facing an individual with a personal need.
8. Does he have a passion for winning lost souls to Christ? Has he demonstrated this in his previous work? It used to be a "given" that preachers were soul winners for Christ. Such can no longer be assumed. It is not uncommon to hear of preachers, who do not participate in visitation programs since they are "the pulpit minister," or their other job keeps them too busy. We hear of men preaching with an established church for a year or several years with no souls won to Christ. Remember you are not seeking a "speech maker." Tape recordings can deliver excellent sermons. You need a man who couples his public proclamation with active soul winning, if your congregation is to grow and prosper.
9. Does he, have a stable, even temperament that will enable him to get along with problem people and the frustrations of his work. Every congregation will have one or more difficult people with whom the preacher will have to deal. Some of these "problem children" find special delight in needling, challenging, antagonizing and agitating their minister. A man with a "thin skin" or a "short-fused" temper, or who is easily discouraged, will have a hard time staying and doing good work in the presence of such folks.
10. Does he have a stable marriage and home that will be a good example to others? Young married folks need not only lessons, but a good example of a Christian home and family. New converts and young people need good role models in their midst. A preacher with a wounded family will be distracted from his spiritual labor. His domestic problems can have a disastrous impact on the congregation if they deteriorate to the point of a marital breakup. This information is not normally volunteered either by preachers or by their references. Ask pertinent questions. Check beyond his references.
11. Does he have good control of his emotions and appetites? A hothead or person suffering from depression will not long survive as a preacher. A glutton, or one who cannot say no to forbidden pleasures, will be an embarrassment to the church.
12. Does he have good habits of hygiene, dress and personal appearance? Occasionally we see a preacher who puts a low premium on bathing, shaving, deodorant and neatness in dress. Such a man will be an embarrassment to the church, no matter how great a scholar and proclaimer he may be.
13. Is he reasonably healthy so he can do the work he is employed to do? Granted a minister's work is not primarily physical, but a person with poor health may not be able to make the visits to prospects, the sick and shut-ins. Elders can find themselves "saddled" with a sickly preacher who cannot fulfill his duties, yet they cannot dismiss him. Consequently the congregation suffers.
14. Is he responsible in his financial dealings? Unfortunately, preachers, as a class, have acquired a reputation for been lax in meeting financial obligations. The innocent majority suffer from the malfeasance of the guilty minority. There are several possible reasons for this pattern of financial failing.
a) Some good men accept a preaching post with a salary that is totally inadequate. It is only a matter of time until they are in the red.
b) Others truly believe that God will make their dollars go further; that He will rain down blessings from above, so they spend beyond their means. Before they learn that the day of miracles is past, they are in trouble.
c) Some believe that since they are "men of God," doing his work that folks will understand and be patient if they get behind.
d) There are dead beats who have no intention of honoring their debts. They view preaching as the safest spot from which to operate. This is the same motive that prompts many crooks to enter politics. Elders are not out of bound to have a credit report done on the man they wish to employ. An honest man will not mind their so doing. If he does, you don't want to hire him. Many a congregation has paid a sorry preacher's debts to avoid embarrassment in the community. Avoiding the problem is the best way of dealing with it.
15. Are his personal habits reflective of Christian purity, wholesomeness and holiness? The pulpit of the Lord's church is no place for a man who uses tobacco, intoxicants or abuses drugs. While mentioning this may seem unnecessary to some, those who have had much experience in the church know that such habits can occasionally be found among ministers. Even if members indulge themselves, they recognize that a preacher should have better control of his appetites. Do not be afraid to ask the candidate and his references about these matters.
16. Is his conduct with women, wise, discrete and above reproach? In a day of "sexual freedom" and hedonism, a man who is careless in this area will easily fall into temptation. Such a fall is painful at best and often disastrous to the church.
17. Is the prospect a team-worker who can accept the leadership of his elders as men with authority to oversee and supervise his work? The Bible clearly places oversight of the local church in the hands of elders (Acts 20:28), yet it is a common problem for preachers to resent the elders exercising that authority in connection with their work. Many congregations now have two or more men employed as ministers. Nothing is more painful and disturbing than an egocentric man who cannot or will not function as a team member. When making your selection, be sure to let your other staff person or persons have some meaningful input into the decision. A clear job description and strict, plainly stated expectations will help keep your workers functioning as a team should.
18. Does your prospect have a wholesome, brotherly spirit toward fellow-Christians and preachers in general? Will he work for the unity of the spirit (Eph. 4:5) rather than for strife and division? It is sad to say that too many preachers harbor a factious spirit in their hearts and see no wrong in quarrelsome strife and division. They will always call it "contending for the faith" or "preaching the truth" but an examination of the fruit of their labors will reveal the true nature and result of their attitude. A man whose love of self exceeds his love of brethren will generally be caught up in strife. This no church can afford. "The Lord's servant must not strive" (II Tim. 2:24).
19. Is the man courageous enough to declare "the whole counsel of God" "in season out of season" without "respect of persons?" (II Tim. 4:2), Never forget that the principle reason for having a preacher is that the gospel might be faithfully preached so that souls will be saved and saints strengthened. In our secular, materialistic and hedonistic culture, a preacher is under pressure to trim and adjust his message so as not to offend the worldly within and without the church. Men who do so are unworthy, but their numbers are legion. Such a preacher will not be a blessing to a congregation even though he pleases the multitude.
20. Does the man understand the nature of our plea to restore New Testament Christianity? Does he subscribe wholeheartedly to it and will he make it an important part of his public and private preaching and teaching? Without such instruction, the congregation will quickly lose its doctrinal direction and identity. Elders should be aware that many preachers view the idea of restoration as obsolete and unnecessary. Such men are but a step away from apostasy.
21. Is he a man of integrity in his word, in business and daily relationships? Sinners delight in pointing out and magnifying the preacher whose word is not reliable. The man you want must be "an example in word" (I Tim. 4:12).
22. Is he careful in his speech and able to hold a confidence? In working with people a minister will be privy to many sensitive matters. Troubled souls will share with him their most personal problems. To betray those confidences would be devastating to the party concerned and destroy the preacher's credibility. It is sad but true that some ministers are given to gossip, and just cannot keep a spicy story secret (I Tim. 5:13).
23. Does he know when and how to speak on sensitive issues? However great his knowledge of the scriptures and related materials, if a man has not the wisdom to know how and when to deal with sensitive or explosive matters, he will eventually be a source of problems rather than a cure. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a network of silver" (Prov. 25:11). Above all others, a preacher's speech must be "with grace, seasoned with salt that (he) may know how (he) ought to answer each one" (Col. 4:6).
24. Does his ministerial training and experience indicate that his faith in New Testament Christianity will be solid and strong? No man should be rejected or chosen just because he attended a given school. However experience demonstrates that schools will generally produce a certain type of preacher. Some will consistently produce good, solid men and others produce men weak in faith and convictions. If, when choosing your personal vehicle, you consider the manufacturer's reputation, you should do no less in choosing a preacher for the church. Ask pointed questions that will reveal the nature of his convictions. Beware the man whose answers are vague and evasive.
25. Does he appreciate the seriousness and importance of the Christian ministry? Does he reflect the maturity and gravity to fill the post acceptably? The pulpit is no place for clowns and comedians. Souls need the same serious attention as do our physical bodies. We expect physicians to be serious about their work. Like deacons, preachers need to be grave (I Tim. 3:8). To be grave does not mean to be "grave-yardy." This point is especially relevant when the candidate is youthful.
26. Is the man affiliated with any faction, radical preacher, paper or school that is known to be troubling the body of Christ? Such factions are perennial problems for every generation. Elders who are not informed regarding such problems may well employ a man who will do great harm to their flock.
27. Does your prospect, in general, hold similar views about doctrinal matters and the mission and purpose of the church as do the elders and congregation? While it is unreasonable to expect to find a man whose thinking matches yours in every detail, if there is not a general consensus, you will likely experience conflict and clashes at some future time. Why invite trouble?
28. Is he able and willing to serve all the different groups in the congregation? A church cannot afford a preacher who can identify only with one element of the flock. True, old men cannot be young men or vice versa, but they can be sympathetic, understanding and interested in those beyond their peer group.
By - John Waddey
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