In an effort to quickly fill a leadership gap, some churches will sometimes require candidates to complete a rigorous written questionnaire as well as an interviews process. I have learned that this method may help us to discover a candidates’ level of basic doctrine but lacks the precision to test his motives and ambitions. These inner qualities are learned only be observing the candidate in the crucible of church life.
A candidate for church leadership may be articulate, bright, possess a reasonable grasp of Bible doctrine, and easily pass an interview process. Yet, many of these very same people do not have the commitment level to the local church that is necessary to walk through adversities and threatening times without bailing out. How many times have I seen (so called) leaders at PCC jump ship simply because they lacked heart-felt commitment to this local body?
What have I learned? First of all, to be a God-called pastor-elder requires more than the ability to fill out an questionnaire or successfully complete a seminary class. Second, I am suspicious of people who crave high visibility. Third, future elders should be cultivated through interaction in a variety of settings; such as discipleship groups, prayer, meals together, reading/discussion forums, and in the natural flow of church life. Listen to the way they interact with others. Determine what kind of fruit they bear. That way I have time to observe their passions and ambitions before they are set apart as elders. Fourth, as I pray for discernment, I am conscious of the Holy Spirit setting off ‘alarms’ concerning their character and conduct.