7 Things to Ask in Your Church Interview

Inevitably, if you are seeking a job or membership at a church you will be asked if you have any questions for them. I have heard too many people say, “No, I think I’m good. Appreciate it.” They leave the room and don’t get some key questions answered by the leadership. Might I encourage you to ask these questions?

  1. Could you give me a brief history of how your church started? Who it is affiliated with? (This gives you a snapshot of pitfalls and issues that birthed the church, as well as 10,000 ft view of their commitments)
  2. Why does your church exist? (Basic vision question here. Is it clear? Is it specific? Too generic of a vision statement doesn’t convince me that that church ought to exist. If it’s to merely make disciples, or merely to love God, then every other church does that already and I could be just as happy going to another place if that’s all they’re about. Further, a generic vision betrays a lack of thoughtfulness in why the church actually exists. Some may say that that’s what Jesus commanded his disciples. It smacks of piety, but Jesus also commanded his disciples with a particular context and particular mission–Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, uttermost parts of the earth. Give me something I can hold on to. On the flip side of this, you can have a vision that’s so specific that it misses the bigger vision of making disciples around the world. You are looking for the sweet tension between big and minute. Behind this question is: Has the leadership done the hard work of defining who they are?)
  3. Visit during one of the gatherings. (No, make that 3 visits!)

a) Ask a member why the church exists (i.e., why should I join this church rather than the one down the street). (This is looking for whether the leadership is communicating what they are seeking to communicate. It also helps you see how much ownership members have in the church. Like the point above, the more people you ask the better picture you will have).

b) Ask a member why the church exists (i.e., why should I join this church rather than the one down the street). (This is looking for whether the leadership is communicating what they are seeking to communicate. It also helps you see how much ownership members have in the church. Like the point above, the more people you ask the better picture you will have).

c) Ask a member what her favorite thing is about the church. Then ask a him.

d) Ask a member what her biggest challenge is at the church. Then ask a him.

4. What was the latest sermon series on? Why did they choose to do that?

5. Who is responsible for who in leadership?

6. How are the pastors/leaders spiritually nourished?

7. What books are the leadership team reading? (If they aren’t reading, you probably want to go to the next church. If they’re reading all the same books, run to the next church.)

A Church Planting Weak Link

I last posted on the weak link in church revitalization. I think it’s only
fair to discuss a weak link as I have seen them among churches and church planting. These are general impressions and shouldn’t be taken as a brand on any particular church (especially any that I have been a member at!). I find that there are several threads that are frayed and needing re-tooling or being done away with altogether.

Church planting has become a very popular buzz word among churches over the last 15 years or so. With the advent of groups like Acts 29 and a fresh initiative from denominations to plant churches, I have found that people (particularly pastors) like to talk, but don’t do a lot by way of actually taking strides in planting churches. Here are some brief thoughts on the problems as I see them.

1) Assuage guilt. Let’s be honest. We read the Bible and churches being planted is¬†a natural consequence of Christians living faithful lives. We look at our lives and our churches and, quite frankly, we don’t see a lot of disciples. We see a lot of people gathering around common preferences. But little, by way of sharing the Good News and people being converted, is happening.

Little is done to remedy the issue in practice. A re-tooling of the way we’ve always done it is just too hard. But, we know it should be important to us. . .so. . .we talk about it. Ad nauseum. We talk about mission. We talk about vision. We talk about evangelism. We talk about loving the lost. We talk about taking risks. We talk and we talk and we talk. Jaws are flapping, but feet are planted. We have this perverse way of calming our conviction by collaborating, but never do.

2) Church planting is TOO cool. Put another way, planting a church is so important and so vital and so awesome that we don’t know where to start. Too many folk have focused on the man in church planting. Too much emphasis and pressure is put on the person planting the church, that if St. Patrick or William Carey themselves came, they probably would be turned away. [ASIDE: This is not hyperbole. I have heard of men being turned away for the very things that these men struggled with.]

Church planting is not too big or too important that we can’t take risks. So many churches put the pressure to do it just right because if it fails, then people will be disappointed and disenfranchised. You know what? Failure does happen. Relationships do fracture. People get hurt. I think this issue is more endemic to North American Christianity than it is worldwide. Brothers and sisters in Africa or South America are preaching the Gospel and churches are being planted. Do we have so many structures and protocol that we often miss the bus of what God is doing in our midst? I’m afraid so. I’m afraid that we want t’s crossed and i’s dotted to a fault.

I appreciate the gravity that folk place on doing it right. That’s not what I’m railing against. I am railing against the acute tendency to faithlessness¬†because we want things to be perfect.

3) We have no clue of what it would look like for the Spirit of God to sweep us off our feet. This is related to 2 above. I am afraid that we so organize and plan that if God swept through our congregations, we would try to stop him. Church planting is messy. I think that’s part of God’s design. In our efforts to be “successful” and to “ensure growth,” we eschew the power of God to mess up our worlds. We compartmentalize and call it being a good steward. We sit down and call it counting the cost. Could it be that God would want to wreck your world? Could it be that the pretty plans tied in a bow is actually a keg of dynamite intended to be blown up?

Matthew S. Wireman | Life & Theology