How the AC Helps Churches Find Their Next Pastor (and Pastors Find Their Next Call)
When George Rountree, an elder at Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church, was tasked to lead his church’s Senior Pastor Search Committee, he knew exactly who to call first: the PCA Administrative Committee (AC).
Specifically, George contacted the Pastor Search team, led by Placement Director Karen Cook and Dr. Paul Kooistra, Placement and Church Relations Consultant. They walked George through the process and gave his search committee a list of highly qualified candidates to interview.
According to George, the Pastor Search team provided his committee with a number of excellent fits for the opening, or what he calls “focused candidates.” The team could provide this largely because of the AC’s database of Ministerial Data Forms. By cross referencing the database with a Church Profile Form, the Pastor Search team can help facilitate the connecting of churches with pastors seeking a call in the denomination.
This service is also a huge resource to pastors and seminary grads seeking a call. The first step to being added to the system is simply requesting and submitting a Ministerial Data Form. MDFs submitted to the AC are not searchable by anyone other than the Administrative Committee Pastor Search staff. They are 100% confidential and only sent to a church search committee if the MDF is a close match to the committee’s Church Profile Form.
For the best potential opportunities, pastors and seminary grads—in addition to requesting that their MDFs be sent to certain geographic regions, size churches, etc.—can also be very specific about who should not receive their MDF. For example, a pastor can request that his MDF not be sent to various states, presbyteries, or cities.
“They were basically part of our team.”
This is how the AC Pastor Search team was able to provide George and his search committee with a short list of “focused candidates.” After starting with an initial pool of 20 candidates, George and his committee whittled it down to two candidates. Ten months into their search, they eventually landed on hiring Jeff Birch to be their Senior Pastor.
“The [PCA AC Search Team] was very helpful, especially Karen,” said George. “She was always helpful and always had suggestions that were useful to us. You gotta give credit where it’s due. And they deserve a good bit of credit.”
Although George and his team decided not to post their job listing online (opting instead for a smaller pool of candidates), many churches have had great success posting their jobs to PCA AC’s website. In fact, according to Mrs. Cook, the number of churches reaching out to the AC for resources and help with their pastor search has almost doubled since 2015.
In addition to providing the Lake Oconee search committee with a list of highly qualified candidates, Karen and her team provided a number of other helpful resources and services, including a Pastor Search guidance packet and a study on pastoral compensation.
“They were basically part of our team,” said George. “They knew the system, the people, and the resources. And as somebody who interacts with the clerk’s office [AC] infrequently, I wouldn’t have had a clue as to where to go for help.”
After their search process was completed, George felt strongly about supporting the AC.
“I told our session, ‘We’ve gotten great value from this. We need to support the Administrative Committee. They’ve given us a lot more value than we’ve ever donated.’ I got zero pushback.”
When asked what he would say to other churches who are in the search process and considering asking the AC for help, George was clear:
“Maximize your time and have a conversation with them.”
To learn more about our Pastor Search resources for churches seeking a pastor or pastors open to a new call, visit pcaac.org/pastor-search.