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5 Tips How Not to Hire a New Church Pastor

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

I am going to provide your church 5 tips how NOT to hire a new church Pastor. Read on and learn to avoid bring “wolves” in who will hurt your church family.

A New Pastor Must be Sent by God

Although it seems elementary, a new Pastor must be sent by God.

Every candidate who applies and is invited to interview, truly believes they are “the one.” Yes, these men can be this delusional.

Full disclosure: I am a church Pastor who has been through the hiring process. Further, for years, I fellowshipped with other Pastors across multiple states. This is important because I am not providing secondhand information in this post.

Not only do I serve as a Pastor, but I have also had a full-time job in a professed “Christian” organization. This place, the Denver Rescue Mission, was choked full of people who called themselves Holy Ghost Pastors.

What is revealed is what I personally know and have experienced. I also tend to avoid “escape clauses” when writing about wayward shepherds as well.

When we use terms such as “certain people”, “some folks”, etc. we provide a way out for those most needing to be directly confronted with the Word of God. Those who most need repentance are the very ones who believe everyone else is in need!

Nevertheless, a true “God” sent shepherd can have an eternally blessed impact on your congregation.

Choosing the wrong one has the opposite effect and will result in your congregation being hurt in ways you cannot imagine.

Many congregations through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, choose well. However, many more, “talking at” God but never praying to Him make the worst choice possible.

These sorts are more concerned about “background” checks for past transgressions and college transcripts than who Jesus wants.

Having been around these men for years, I am comfortable in declaring that half of congregations choose God’s, and the others choose “someone else.”

Here is what Jesus said about these “preachers”:

Let review how to make God’s choice and avoid those Jesus Christ called “hirelings.”

Avoiding the Wrong Pastor Requires Speaking Truth

Effectively searching for a Pastor takes prayer and supplication. Afterward, it takes pastoral search committees being honest enough to speak truth in love.

Here is a little bit of “inside baseball you may not be aware of.

Many people who call themselves “preachers” and “Pastors” actually chose to become ministers themselves. This is much different than the biblical call from God to His choice.

These men are dangerous, ill-equipped, and believe the church is nothing more than another “career path.”

As a Pastor, I warn on this wise: the right Pastor awaits while the wrong one will prey on you! I have witnessed the wrong candidates slither through search processes all too often.

Further, these same ‘sorts,’ once hired, mock you in ways which would shock the Spirit.

There is a local church leader in this city who is the ultimate predator. I have confronted him, directly, yet his wickedness against God’s people remains.

Here is a short video on recognizing a toxic Pastor:

This is an issue in churches: such wolves roam freely, and no one speaks truth to their face. Being around these men, they smile at each other, preach at each other’s church, but don’t love one another.

When someone does come along and do so, they are outcasts and shunned by the “good ole boy” network.

Hiring a Pastor Means Paying Him Something

Let me be clear on one thing, however: just because someone earns money preaching doesn’t make them a “wolf.”

The Bible has much to say on the subject of “workmen being worthy of their wages” etc.

I have no “dog in this fight” as a Pastor. What I mean is I receive “gas money” each week and nothing more than that. I am one of the eight (8) and ten (10) who work a full-time job to fund ministry efforts.

Nevertheless, an area which it sensitive yet must be addressed forthrightly is pastoral pay.

It is my hope that our readers understand IF something is wicked, or otherwise suspect (in the House of God), I say so. God brought me into this world, set me apart, and anointed me to confront those who exploit His People.

On the other side of such confrontation however, God’s grace, even to US who should know better.

Understanding this platform is meant to ‘reason’ with God’s people, compensating a leader is biblical.

Here is just one of DOZENS of biblical affirmations:

Many years prior to Pastoring, I served as the Chairman of the Board of Church Elders. My stand then, is the same as now (as a Pastor). Those who can yet refuse to reward the servants of God will be held to an unimageable accounting.

There are Prophets confused on the matter as well. Too many of MY prophetic brethren are preaching, believing, and savaging church leaders with: “I don’t preach for money like they do.”

Pastoral compensation, itself, is not the issue.

The challenge, which often becomes a cancer, is both ‘how’ that compensation is arrived at, as well as a Pastor’s feelings of entitlement. For example, if a congregation does not meet their salary demands, well, that must not be the place God has for them.

Let all candidates know the salary, upfront, and stand firm on no post-hire negotiations.

Hiring a Pastor Means Learning from Others

Many years ago, there was a church trying to sell their building because they were in over their heads (financially).

Never mind that “god” (little ‘g’) gave the leader a ‘vision’ to build it (I mock).

I did some digging, found legal documents, and after a brief review of financial statements, discovered a shocking truth.

This church had approximately $112,000 in yearly donations yet paid their Pastor $90,000.

That leaves $22,000 (per year) for other church expenses. By square footage (being a former commercial landlord), the heating bill, alone, can be estimated at $4,000 per year. That leaves only $18,000 to pay all other expenses.

Is there any surprise they were in that circumstance?

This was offered to point out the wrong candidate cares nothing about leading God’s house to a place of financial distress. They are ‘owed’ something and raising funds is YOUR problem!

You would be disturbed to hear how often Pastors refer to the congregation they lead separate of themselves.

One told me: “they have a large mortgage on the church that they need to pay.” Their Pastor didn’t say “we have a mortgage,” he said “they.”

Am I the only one who knows there is something disturbing about this?

Churches mortgage foreclosure is common these days:

The wayward candidate/shepherd is thinking: “So what! Churches shortchange us all the time. There is no sin in asking for what we are worth.”

Interesting position, when Sunday after Sunday you (and I) pray, and preach, about how ‘unworthy’ we are in the sight of God. Both things cannot be true. Either you are worthy or not.

However, if a church set the amount at one figure, and a preacher demands a higher amount, post-hire, how is the Holy Ghost a part of that? I know one who, after being hired, demanded a higher salary.

He had this prideful church over a ‘barrel.’ They were desperate for a leader, but too prideful to admit they ‘called a hireling.’

The church’s multi-decades Pastor had died, choice candidate rejected them, and they received “scraps.” I was once close with this man, but he finally showed his true colors!

God help His people at that church.

Remember that the Holy Bible teaches: “pride proceeds falling down.”

Ask the Wrong Candidates the Right Questions

Please ask deep probing questions to any potential Pastor to discover who they really are.

Stand on God’s Word and dismiss the wrong candidates from the process immediately. They serve Ha Shatan through the lusts of their own flesh.

As a Pastor and insider, I say with surety that predators seek prey. Worse, they believe that they are serving God by abusing and bullying you.

If they are trying to manipulate the hiring process through lying and misrepresenting themselves, do you honestly believe they will change as Pastor?

When they are through using your church, they will simply leave, and do the same thing to another. In the meanwhile, your church is left broken in spirit, and financially distressed.

Here is an example of asking the wrong candidate the right question. If they are currently pastoring ask: “why are you unsatisfied with your current assignment”? Whatever their answer, immediately follow with this: “you are leaving them, what makes us think you won’t become unsatisfied and leave us”?

The wrong candidate will not be able to authoritatively answer. The reason is simple: they have anticipated this question because they think you are DUMB!

I personally know these what the Gospel of John calls “hirelings” really think of you!

Bad Pastor Candidates Will Manipulate the Process

Here is an example so that you learn what to look for.

I was once privy to a situation where a church was searching for a Pastor. The founding Pastor, having led for many decades, went on to glory. He was old school, had little written down, yet was known as a sincere Man of God.

The church began the process to replace him, candidates, yet had nothing explaining transition. Succession planning, or Pastoral compensation. They had a number in mind but did not understand that post hire negotiations would be a disaster.

Even when a salary amount was provided, one candidate offered to Pastor for a lessor amount.

This wasn’t an act of “humility” either - he was trying to manipulate the process. His strategy was to seem more reasonable, and less money hungry than the amount set-up by the church.

It backfired and the church was insulted.

Another candidate however, had enough integrity to suggest some form of written agreement pre-hire with all candidates. All candidates signed, and crisis was averted.

Here is some great resources with respect to pastoral compensation planning.

Praise God this congregation was protected. Will yours be?


Finally, and above every other consideration (except prayer of course), any God sent preacher will not balk at being asked tough questions.

If you are wise, and as the mentioned church did, have any interview and certainly hiring terms spelled out for signature. It troubles my spirit to reveal these things, but part of the ministry God assigned me is protecting sheep from ‘hirelings.’

One of these hirelings I know said: “Our job is to get these people to bring us money from their bank accounts. Our money is in their accounts.” I wonder how many church leaders would agree with any part of that.

“Our job” as opposed to the Holy Spirit’s? “Bring us” instead of “bringing it to God.”

For those who still have not caught on, let me assist: “what is theirs is really mine, and I have to get what is mine, from them.”

Where is God in that?

Effectively searching for a Pastor is a God ordained responsibility.

Get the hiring right and your church will be blessed in unimaginable ways. If you get it wrong, hell is coming to God’s House.

Header Image Courtesy of Vicki Nunn @ Pixabay

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