Ask Dave, pt.4, The Pastor Is A Servant, Not A Slave.


This is part four of a series entitled, ‘Ask Dave.’ Recently I asked my friends on Facebook what they would like to see me write on for my blog and here are some of the questions brought to me. I will cover two or three questions in each article.

Question: How about advice for ministers in navigating the process of finding a place to pastor?

Dave: I have mixed feelings about the traditional approach to this, i.e. candidating. Most of you are familiar with this but some of you may not be. Candidating is when a pastor is looking for a new church and they discover a church looking for a new pastor and then the process of ‘candidating’ begins. It’s kind of like an online dating service. You fill out some forms, narrow your search, eventually make a call, if everything goes good then you meet for coffee. If that goes good then you start dating. If that goes good then you get married.

I’ll be honest with you. I always get a little nervous when I learn that a church is looking for a new pastor or vise versa. The reason for this? Often neither party knows what they’re doing. What do I mean by this?

Most ‘search committees’ are inexperienced in interviewing pastoral candidates. They don’t know what their church needs in a pastor. They don’t know the right questions to ask. They don’t know what to look for or what to look out for. This is one reason why it’s wise to bring in someone from the outside, like a coach, to help.

Also, often ‘candidate’ is inexperienced in interviewing the search committee. They don’t know what they as the candidate needs. They don’t know the right questions to ask. They don’t know what to look for or what to look out for. This is one reason why it’s wise to bring in someone from the outside, like a coach, if you are looking for a church.

Question: Differences between big church and small church strategies.

Dave: This is difficult to answer without knowing the specifics, but I’ll try. Typically the ‘strategies’ are not that different. The difference is that a larger church has more resources to work with than a smaller church. Smaller churches need to have fewer needs for strategies, meaning, smaller churches should be focused on fewer things than a larger church is able to focus on. A good strategy involves a wise assessment of resources.

Question: How to navigate the “servant/leader” role in a way that is balanced and healthy for both pastor and parishioners.

Dave: I don’t want to get bogged-down with semantics but it’s interesting how often we use the word ‘leader’ instead of the word ‘pastor’ or ‘shepherd.’ Never forget that you were called to be a pastor. I doubt that you were called to be a leader. Don’t get me wrong…as a pastor you must lead, and in that sense you are the leader. But when I think of a leader I think of someone out in front looking back and yelling, “Follow me!” When I think of a pastor I think of someone who is living and ministering among his or her people, more side-by-side, ahead of them yes, but only a few steps. Semantics? Maybe.

Recently I pastor told me he said to his congregation, “I am your servant. I am not your slave.” I thought that was brilliant!

If the pastor, and the church they minister to, understands the difference between servant and slave there will be a balance that is healthy for both pastor and church.

Have a different question? Go ahead and ask.



  1. zev goldman’s avatar

    I would suggest that a minister not be involved in any way with the finances of the church unless at least three members of the congregation can’t be found to constitute a knowledgeable finance committee. Ideally the finance committee would be chosen from the elders board.
    A financial statement should be given in the church bulletin once a month and an annual audit must be conducted.
    Involvement in finance detracts from the pastor’s time and energy to be the shepherd.
    Solid financial controls remove many avenues for gossip and add to the stability of the church.
    These are issues that should be addressed before a pastors accepts a position. I would prefer to define it as a calling to a congregation but we know this often times is not the case.

  2. Dave Jacobs’s avatar

    Some good ideas Zev. Thanks for contributing.

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