Vonhoff, The Pastoral Search Journey


John Vonhoff, The Pastoral Search Journey: A Guide to Finding Your Next Pastor. Alban Institute, 2010.

Referenced in: Ministry Transitions and Interim Ministry Summary

This updates an earlier volume by Vonhoff, The Alban Guide to Managing the Pastoral Search Process (1999). While companion volumes such as those by Gripe, Mead, and Nicholson are better at the interim/pastoral transition process in general, Vonhoff is probably the best guide available on pastoral search in particular. It is written with mainline denominations in mind, but the resources are easily adapted for use in evangelical and independent congregations.

Vonhoff provides practical guidelines on selecting and appointing search committees, conducting self-studies, preparing church information packets, finding and communicating with candidates, managing references, testing, interviews, red flags, determining selection criteria, presenting your best side, calling the new minister, and managing a smooth transition. It is full of sample letters, flowcharts, communication ideas, and policy suggestions.

From the Publisher

Most churches have sought out a new pastor many times, yet search committees often feel as though they are inventing the process from scratch. In The Pastoral Search Journey, John Vonhof provides detailed guidance for search committees to ensure a good match between pastor and congregation. This is Vonhof’s third book about the pastoral search — but the first to discuss interim pastors, transitions between pastors, and the use of the Internet and digital media. Vonhof advises congregational leaders on establishing the search committee; ensuring the congregation is cared for during the pastoral vacancy; conducting the congregational self-study and creating an information packet; finding, communicating with, and interviewing candidates; determining selection criteria as well as evaluating and recommending candidates; managing call negotiations; and finally welcoming the congregation’s new pastor. Sample letters, forms, and other tools are provided.

About the Author

John Vonhof has more than 25 years experience serving in church leadership roles as a deacon; elder; board secretary; as secretary of a pastoral search team; on youth, ministry, and missions boards; numerous task forces and committees; and as a Sunday school teacher and small group leader. This book is written from his experience on a pastoral search team, talking with pastors and members of search teams, and researching resources about the pastoral search process.

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