Questions churches should ask when hiring a preacher but don’t.

I recently read four want ads posted by churches who were trying to find a preacher. The man with the cape could never do all these churches expect. I once wrote a parody of such a want ad. It is astonishingly stupid to ask so much of one man! But that is not the focus of this post.

The ads are dead give-aways of the questions the pulpit search committee will likely ask.

  • Where were you educated and what degree have you earned?
  • How long have you been a minister?
  • What churches have you served and did they grow?
  • Are you married?
  • Have you been divorced?
  • Do you have children?
  • Are your finances in order?
  • What is your vision for a church you serve?
  • Can you live on $***** per month?
  • Etc., etc., etc.

And of course they will want to hear the guy preach, either by a recorded sermon or perhaps in person. The questions above have very little to do with the ministry of leading a church as a preacher, pastor/teacher, or whatever your group calls him.

I have served twice on search committees and both times we hired good, godly men. I have also been used as a reference by ministers seeking a job. One fellow from Arkansas called me to ask about a candidate he and his fellow committee members were considering. He asked “Is he a dynamic pulpit man?” I answered with a question, “Why is that important to you?” My question was met with an uncomfortable silence and then he finally sounded apologetic and unsure saying, “Because we want a very good preacher?”

I explained to this guy that a very good orator, with great credentials, can be a lazy jerk who does all that he does in the energy of the flesh and can not help grow Christians toward maturity and Christ likeness. I suggested that the man go back to his committee and that they should have an extended time of prayer and seeking the mind of the Lord about what their church needed and then interview preachers. Of course he didn’t listen to my advice, and neither did my friend who I tried to talk out of taking the job and it was a disaster! They were the most immature bunch you could imagine. They made the Corinthians look really good!

What churches ought to ask.

  • How do you know you are a Christian? (If he doesn’t answer this one right the interview would be over and I would want to share the gospel with him.)
  • How did you make the decision to become a minister?
  • Tell us about your prayer life? Do you have specific answers to prayer?
  • How much time do you spend in an average week in Bible study?
  • Are you walking in the Spirit?
  • If we hire you will you love our people? (People can tell if you love them or if you are just doing your job.)
  • Is your vision to help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, to know him more? (If not what is it?)
  • Do you preach the gospel, regularly and often?
  • How many people have you shared the gospel with in the last 6 months one on one?

There are more, but you get the idea. You see, most churches want a polished preacher who is brilliant and funny in the pulpit, loved and respected by everyone in town, and they want their numbers to increase, both in members and money. And, they often get exactly what they want.

What is your church (or mine) doing for the people of your community that could not be done by a good civic club? The mission of the church is to make men fit for heaven. If lives are not regularly being changed, if spiritual transformation is not changing sinners into saints, if the hungry are not fed, if the mourners have no one to weep with them, if the prisoners have no visitors, if people are not having personal encounters with the living Christ, when your church needs a preacher the first list of questions will do just fine.

If you want a man who is a man of God, who knows God intimately, loves people where they are, like they are, and has no greater passion than to introduce men and women and boys and girls to the living Christ, maybe the first list of questions are not the right ones.


The One True Church

This morning I was to fish in a tournament on a nearby lake. All of the proceeds from the tournament entry fees will be used to support summer camp for kids from our church, Whites Ferry Road Church of Christ. I decided to not fish after paying my entry fee and registering for two reasons. The steering on my boat is failing and severe thunderstorms are predicted. The boat is in the local repair shop and I am in my cozy home.

This morning I sat down with a warm cup of coffee and Googled “weather, 71203” and clicked on my favorite weather site, to see how far away the predicted storms are. I noticed a tiny Google ad, “The One True Church”. My curiosity peeked and I clicked on the link and listened to a few minutes of a video expounding why that church is the “One True Church“. Of course they are not the one true church but maybe they are a part of it, maybe not.

It was easy to learn from the website that the focus of their teaching was a series of lessons validating their claim that they alone are the true church and that all others are false. The first red flag I see, the thing that gives me pause, is when any  group teaches more about the church than the Christ. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to produce all of the material necessary to support such a claim of exclusivity.

I’m trying to remember how many “One True” churches there is. I can think of  perhaps a dozen right away. You might think of more. Each of those that come to mind use similar tactics and teaching to prove up their claims. And, every one of them has a different set of rules one must keep to finally be accepted by God. Man made religion is always and forever about keeping rules. It is a detailed, well thought out plan of how man can earn God’s favor and be looked upon favorably by Him.

The One True Church” is not a church on earth making claims of exclusivity. The “One True Church” is the mystical body of Christ composed of every person God has called to Himself and is depending on Christ alone for salvation and final reward. That remnant of those, both dead and living and who are not yet saved, who are God’s own dear children and understand that God looks on His children favorably because of the obedience of Jesus and not their own. He birthed them supernaturally, put His Holy Spirit in them as a guarantee and assurance, gave them immortality, wrote His law on their hearts, poured out His love in their hearts, and designed them to love and do good works.

It is my view (this is not inspired!) that of professing Christiandom only a “few” are members of the Lord’s body, the “church“. Jesus’ own words when He described the “narrow” way and “few” that find it. His rebuke of professing Christians who were only counterfeits in Matthew 7. And for me, the most compelling truth is His descriptions of how his followers must live in self denial, have unconditional love for others, be different from the world, and be holy people, stands in stark contrast to the average church member on the pew any given Sunday.

God’s plan to reconcile sinful people to Himself goes against human nature and crushes the human ego. It demands surrender! It demands that we give up trying to appease God and simply trust the Christ who bore our sins in his body, who died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. Most people it seems, stumble at the simplicity of the gospel of Christ.

If you are in “The One True Church” Christ is the chief cornerstone of your life. If not, He is the stone you stumble over and a rock of offense. The message of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus will get one of two reactions. A person will either be drawn to God’s plan or be offended by it. How about you? It is my only hope!



Mission Church Needs Air Conditioning

new_roof_0208The Hemley Road Church of Christ in Bayou La Batre, Alabama desperately needs air conditioning for their church building. They are growing, (about 20 baptisms this year), had 80 for worship last Sunday, and are cooled by one large fan. The heat on the bayou by Mobile Bay is a muggy, wet heat and almost unbearable in the hottest months of summer.

This church has no means of getting air conditioning except by praying, trusting, and telling friends of their needs. (All biblical) Can you help? Do you have an A/C company? Do you have a friend or church member who does? Will you ask them to consider this project? Or, can you give a gift toward the $12k needed?

Any gift can be directed to either the Whites Ferry Rd church in West Monroe, or the El Campo church in El Campo, Texas. Either address is very easy to find by “googling” the name. Just designate your gift to “Bayou La Batre” or “Hemley Rd” and of course it is tax deductible.

Daphne German said to me recently in a phone call, “We either need air conditioning or a hundred funeral home fans!”. Daphne lives in a rent house on the church property with only one small window unit in one bedroom. Can you imagine cooking and other activities in the other rooms?

Please, please pray, please ask, please help.


***UPDATE*** God has provided the necessary funds to install one unit for the main building. One is still needed for the house and of course utility bills will increase sharpley once the large unit is installed and put to use. They still need help! Praise God for His faithfulness to provide every need.

Hemley Rd Church Puts New Baptistry to Use.

blb_bldgThis past Monday I received an excited phone call from our partner in the gospel, Daphne German from the Hemley Road church of Christ. On last Sunday they had their first baptism of the year, and in the church’s brand new baptistery. A 51 year old widow was baptized by brother Billy Spalding. What joy the church shared as they witnessed this event.

The baptistery is not trimmed out yet, but it held warm water (a very positive thing since the church has no heat, or A/C for that matter) and this was the first of what will be many, many baptisms at HRC. The baptistery was a love gift from a sister church at La Place, Louisiana. When they learned that their brothers and sisters in Bayou La Batre were in need they responded. Many thanks to the church in La Place for their expression of charity.

Since its inception after Hurricane Katrina, the Hemley Rd church has had no less than 10 baptisms each year. For a congregation with only a few mature believers they are doing a wonderful job of getting out the gospel and loving the people of the Bayou. They have an on going food pantry, still repair citizens houses and give tons of clothing, food, and furniture each year, facilitate an on going Grief Share ministry, and put the gospel in shoe leather in their community.

Never have I met any Christians who are more determined, live more sacrificially, and are more filled with faith than Christ’s ambassadors at HRC. Against overwhelming odds and in the face of severe opposition they have continued straight ahead. They live by faith and are bringing hope and deliverance to the folks of the bayou through their Christ centered ministry and message.

I thank God for our friends at Hemley Rd church in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. They have many needs, not the least of which is an air conditioning unit for the church building, the fellowship building, and the house on the property. Last summer when the temperatures were in the high 90’s they fed children, had classes, and worshiped with only a couple of fans to move the air. They have ministered all winter without heat, but have continued because of the warmth of their hearts.

Do you know an HVAC contractor who loves God? Tell him about the needs at HRC. Why not stop fretting about the decline of the DOW index and invest that money in something with an eternal benifit? At a minimum, please put these dear people on your prayer list and lift them to our Father.

I couldn’t be prouder of my forever family at the Hemley Rd church of Christ in Bayou La Batre. Many thanks to them for being examples of what a church should look like. May God continue to bless them and you.

For the very good news about Jesus,
Royce Ogle