• An Introduction to Pastoral Search

When the Interim Pastor, Interim Supervisor, Board of Directors and Staff have completed the Readiness Survey, a collaborative decision will be made as to whether the church is ready to move forward toward Pastoral Search.

Once readiness is achieved, the board should proceed to put together a Pastoral Search Committee in accordance with the local church bylaws.

The OCLH will be available to coach and mentor the Pastoral Search Committee. The first step is to have every member read the Pastoral Search Manual.

The Mentoring Process

At an early meeting of the PSC, a member of the OCLH staff will meet with the committee to talk about options for the kind of pastoral search they wish to do along with answering any outstanding questions.

Pastoral Search Methods

1.  Executive Search – this entails gathering names of potential applicants based on the profile of the kind of pastor the church needs

A.  Pros

  • Frames the search as a recruitment of the kind of person the church wants rather than on who applies
  • Normally shortens the process
  • Qualifies a shorter list of candidates up front

B. Cons

  • Could be perceived as a less open process
  • Some qualified candidate could be overlooked
  • Heavier reliance on denominational leadership to provide names

2. Public Posting – this entails putting out the word in as many public domains as possible and invite anyone/everyone to apply

A.  Pros

  • The possibility of many applicants exists
  • Could create the perception of a more open process
  • Could get a qualified candidate that otherwise might have been overlooked.

B. Cons

  • The number of applications to go through is likely to be very high
  • This is normally a longer process
  • The probability of getting applicants who are happy where they are is decreased

3. Combination of 1 and 2 – This combines the process of Executive Search while also employing some efforts to publically post the job opening.

A.  Pros

  • May provide names that would have otherwise been overlooked
  • Creates perception of openness without sacrificing a recruitment effort
  • Puts laser focus on pastoral profile

B. Cons

  • Likely to create more work because two different processes have to be put into place
  • Could take longer for the process to be completed
  • Could send mixed messages

Once the PSC deliberates about the options, a decision is made and the OCLH staff member serves as a mentor to whatever process is chosen.


With regard to an Executive Search Process:

  1. The names that are requested of the denominational leadership are discussed by the Senior Leadership Team and never done in isolation or a vacuum.
  2. We recommend search committees offer a period of time when the congregation can submit names to the process.
  3. Clergy can fill out a Profile Form and post it so that the committee and the SLT have access to them as a resource.
  4. There is a listing of churches that are in Pastoral Search. If the list indicates an Executive Search, clergy are free to contact the OCLH about their interest, or contact the church directly. Contact information for the PSC chairs are on the website.
  5. Should the PSC desire that an OCLH or OFLD staff member make some calls on their behalf to screen interest, we are happy to do so.
  6. The OCLH and OFLD work very closely during pastoral search to ensure that both the church who is searching and pastors who may be interested are given adequate consideration.

The most important factor in Pastoral Search is for the manual to be followed closely, especially when vetting the applicants on the short list.

Click here for a print-friendly version of the above introduction.
  • Pastoral Search Manual

Click here to download the current Pastoral Search Manual


Click here to read about the Pastoral Search Process from the Perspective of a Candidate Seeking a Call.
  • Ministry Opportunities

We make every effort to publicize the status of churches in transition in order to assist prospective pastors in their discernment and vocational pursuits.  Click here for a list of current Ministry Opportunities.

  • Clergy Profile Forms

The OFLD and OCLH assist clergy who are seeking a new vocational placement and churches who are seeking a pastor by providing an opt-in clergy profile form that clergy can confidentially submit.

For churches who wish to see the type of data we collect, click here for a .

For clergy who wish to submit a profile to indicate your interest in searching for another placement, or who simply want to be open to inquiries as a part of your ongoing discernment, click here to complete and Submit a Clergy Profile Form to the OFLD.