Posted by: Tony Beckett | November 5, 2009

Finding a Pastor: Google Me

If you google my name, you will find my google profile at the bottom of the page. Cool, eh? My wife took the picture I used in it when we were in Seattle last spring.

Search committees can use Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to do on line research. That is a good thing. It is also good for you as a search committee to help people find you! You can post a google profile of your church so those trying to find you can do so more easily.

It is also a good thing for a person looking for a position, whether ministry or otherwise to make themselves easy to find. This is a simple thing to do and may generate contacts or have other positive results.It can also be a great way to help people find you.

If you do this as an individual, think it through. Choose a picture carefully. Do you want your image to look like something just cut out of a school yearbook? Then put in a head shot of you with a suit and tie. BTW, just smiling in the picture does not necessarily make it a casual picture. Maybe you need to look of “all business” for the position you are looking for or the type of contacts you are trying to generate. Or you can show some of your personality. Don’t go cutesy but a casual picture can draw others to you. What ever the picture, just be sure to think through the one you choose.

If you do this as a search committee, think about what picture you might post that will be perhaps the first image someone will have of your church. Do you want it to be of a building, a large group, a ministry happening or what? Think about it because while image is not reality, image is a reality.Dad and Daughter 3Dr. Tony Beckett

And don’t stop with Google! Web based commun- ications offer a variety of opportunities to attach a picture or build a profile. Get yourself out there by finding them an utilizing them. Find me on Skype to see another example.

Bottom line is this: make yourself a little more “findable.” Here is the posting from the daily Harvard Business Briefing that showed me how to do it.

NOVEMBER 4, 2009
Time to Recycle Your Business Cards
Last time you attended a meeting, you may have handed out a few business cards and even collected some as well. Chances are they’re still languishing in the bottom of your briefcase. In our increasingly paperless world, business cards may soon be a thing of the past. If someone wants to find you, it’s far more likely that they will use the internet than a Rolodex. If your name isn’t too common, your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile will likely turn up. But if you’re name is “Greg Smith,” searchers will have a lot of work to do to find the real you. One way to remain contactable is by creating a Google Profile. You can enter basic information about yourself, including contact information, so that when users enter your name into a Google search, your profile shows up at the bottom of the page.

Give it a try: Google the name Jason Chen. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see several Jason’s listed with their company affiliations (from Mattel to Google itself to the University of Illinois) so it’s easy for searchers to see more about the specific Jason they’re looking for.

Sign into your Google account to set up your Google Profile. Add your name, profession, company, places you’ve lived, short bio, and even photos to create a quick at–a–glance contact page. All the information you post to your Google Profile is public and optional. You can even verify your identity via a phone call or credit card with your Google Profile (and it will be listed as “Verified” publicly).

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 28, 2009

Finding a Pastor: Who Are You?

True story. One day I received this email:

Dear Mr. Beckett:

Thank you for expressing interest in the position of Senior Pastor of ________ Church. We received your resume and entered you into our database of applicants.

We are asking all applicants to comment on the following questions:

1.   Why are you interested in this position?

2.   What is your philosophy of pastoral ministry?

Please send your responses to ________search@gmail.com

Your prayers for our search team and church are appreciated. Thank you again for your interest.

Sincerely,

___________ Church
Search Committee

I was stumped. Yes, they gave me the name of the church and an email address but I didn’t know who they were and they wanted me to answer the question, “Why are you interested in this position?”

So I wrote back, “Thank you for your note. I am very glad to answer the questions but need a bit of help. This is embarrassing to ask but would you please send me the city & state in which you are located. I can then find your website again….”

Their response was interesting as they noted they were new to the search process. From now on they would put their address in their emails!  By then I had connected the dots and figured out who they were.

Just figuring out who sent me the email was a challenge. Then there were the questions, starting with “Why are you interested in this position?” In this case I had visited their church once to hear a friend speak. Also I had looked over their website. Other than that, I had almost no knowledge of the church. Yet I was asked to answer the question why I would want to become their senior pastor. (Note the second question was a pretty wide open one as well!)

My answer, based on the limited information I had, did get me to the next level of their process–which was a questionnaire, which is a topic I’ll address later. When it looked like it was going to move to the level past that, which was another questionnaire, I raised a question. Basically I pointed out that they kept asking for information about me but were not telling me anything about themselves. The good thing is that my note had the result of kicking in a process of putting together information about the church.

When a search committee makes a contact, it should be one in which they tell about themselves. It is easy for the prospect to start feeling like a piece of meat. (Tough analogy there but wait till we get to the Project Runway one!) As a potential candidate you are poked, prodded, examined, interrogated, investigated, measured, weighed, analyzed…and so is your spouse. As a candidate we are making a huge decision as well, one that may involve selling a house and relocating a family. The potential pastor/staff member needs to know about the church/position. It is not possible to make a good decision without that kind of information.

So put together a basic information packet to send in conjunction with your initial contact. Include the basics of church constitution, annual reports and financial statements. Do more than that though. Help the person see the life and personality of the ministry. Include informative brochures, publications and newsletters. Include information about the facilities and even about the community itself.

And especially include information on the position itself. Make that information specific enough that the person you contact can get a basic feel for if they are qualified, interested or willing to consider it.

A good search process is going to be facilitated by two way conversation. Don’t do your interview process looking through a one-way mirror.

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 27, 2009

Finding a Pastor: Select a Search Committee

One of the most significant roles in a local church is that of search committee member. That group is charged with a task of greater significance than the hiring of an employee. It is their responsibility to find the person who will serve the congregation as an undershepherd who is accountable to the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ. The people that are a part of this group need to be spiritually mature individuals who will wholeheartedly pursue God’s will.

In some churches, a leadership group undertakes this task. It may be the pastoral staff, the vocational elders as some would identify them, that would lead the search. That is rare. More often it is the elders which be may a combination of vocational and lay elders, or deacons, or a combination of all three. It is very common to enlist individuals from the congregation as well.

There is no hard and fast rule for this but there is one suggestion that stands at the top of my list. The search committee must have representatives from the elders, or in churches without elders, from the deacons. There needs to be representation from whatever group is the recognized leadership group in the church. To have a committee without people from the elders or deacons is not wise.

If a search committee is comprised only of people from the congregation, there can be a disconnect with the leadership. It may be assumed that the committee would naturally be in line with the thinking of the elders but that cannot be assumed. By placing on the committee elders or deacons, then the group has a direct connection with the leadership group and their perspective. In churches where purpose is clear and where there is a strategic plan in place, those representing the leadership group can help keep the process on track. The outcome should be a pastor or staff member who is compatible with the ministry and committed to the mission of that church.

In churches where neither purpose or mission are clearly stated, those who are a part of the leadership group may have at least a general idea of the direction of the church. What the church does not want is a new pastor who is headed in a different direction or who comes with an incorrect understanding of the church leadership’s vision.

Varying the group members is beneficial. Representation of the major groups within the church is good. It should be a mixture of men and women, married and single, older and younger. If all are active participants in church life, they will be able to bring diverse perspectives and also answer questions that may be asked by the person being interview.

Once the group is formed, they should be publicly identified. The congregation should be regularly encouraged to pray for those serving on the committee.

There is also one suggestion that I have. Typically the person being interviewed, whether in person, on the phone or via internet linkage ala Skype, is the stranger in the conversation. Everyone else knows each other. Verbal introductions are helpful for sure. In our search process we were thankful for the church that gave us printed information sheets on the search committee members and the staff. Those sheets were much more than a list of names. They included a recent picture and information such as how long they had been at the church, in what capacities they had served as well as personal information about family and hobbies. They gave us a preview and helped us get to know the people with whom we would be interacting.

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 6, 2009

Pumpkin

Last night our kitchen table was covered with pumpkin scraps as Lauren guided Robert in his first pumpkin carving. Results were great. She let him carve the little one while she was more creative with the larger one. One dime, a nickle and three pennies until the big day.

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 5, 2009

Finding a Pastor: First Step First

A church needs to select a pastor. Where does that process begin?

Our minds may jump to specific things done in a set order. First we do this, then we do that and finally we vote—or something like that. Yes, there are things to do and they should be done in some order but searching for a pastor/staff member is not a strictly segmented and carefully sequential process. It is more like a simultaneous blurring of a variety of strategic activities, all aimed to accomplish one primary purpose. The end result should be a clear focus identifying that individual whom the church will call as their next pastor.

The first step needs to be the first step and it needs to be a simultaneous step alongside of all the others. It is prayer.

I appreciated the comment of a friend who read the first posting about the search process. He said that the church he attends is looking for a pastor. The members of the search committee would soon be announced. He then said that, “Each deacon had cottage prayer meetings in various homes for the last month praying about the pastoral call committee selection process and to ask God to make us ready for our next pastor. “

In other words, they started with prayer.

There is no set structure for this but it needs to be evident in every aspect of the process. It is not just an opening of a meeting with a quick “word of prayer” as we sometimes say. Nor is it just a reminder that people ought to be praying. Both of those are fine but not if that is all. The praying must be earnest, sincere, with clean hands before the holy God and done without ceasing.

The choosing of a pastor is a spiritual journey, a path that should be worn not just by our feet treading the way, but on a path worn by our knees.

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 2, 2009

Suggestions for Search Committees

For some reason, God has allowed me to have more experience with church search committees than I ever hoped for or wanted! Along the way, there have been some really great experiences and not so great ones when I felt like I was on the dark side of the moon. At times I thought I ought to write some of it down in hopes that it would help a church in the search process. Now I am doing that. Sometimes, my angst will come out. And what use is it to have a pet peeve if you can’t share it! Hopefully over time as the collection of posts grows, there will be some things positive that search committees will be able to glean and help them find that next person to serve the church. If you are a search committee open to input, contact me. I’ll be glad to help.

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 2, 2009

22 days but who is counting?

From "Last Album as Lauren Beckett"

From "Last Album as Lauren Beckett"

Robert and Lauren are. And he counts in coins. “It is 2 dimes and 2 pennies until the wedding!”  My guess is if they found my blog and saw this category, they looked here first. I guess it caught my attention when Lauren posted new pictures on FB under the heading, “Last Album as Lauren Beckett.” Whew. The Wedding Approacheth!

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 2, 2009

Dancing with God

More info to follow!

Posted by: Tony Beckett | October 1, 2009

Dipping my toe into the blogosphere

Doing it. Starting a blog. Initially it will be borderline inane. I’ll give you the tour of our lives just to practice. Then it will be on to stuff of significance.

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