41 Questions To Ask a Potential Church

August 27, 2009

Before being called to pastor Ballymoney Baptist Church, I inevitably faced a raft of questions from its eldership.  Beforehand, however, I also asked the elders some questions of my own. Since mentioning this in a prior post, I’ve been emailed several times to forward a copy of those questions to pastor’s in the same situation. Here then is a slightly ammended list of the questions I asked.

A. Theological Questions

1. What is the church’s statement of faith and how did the church devise it?

2. What has been the most vexed theological question the church has faced? Has there ever been a church split over theology or practice? Why?

3. On the wider scene, what theological trends and strands of false teaching would the elders at Ballymoney be particularly concerned about at the moment?

4. What are the key functions/roles of an elder at Ballymoney?

5. What is the elder’s relationship to the pastor? (For example, is the pastor an elder? Do the elders perceive themselves as, in some way, subordinate?)

6. What would the church’s position be on the role of women?

7. What is the church’s position on the function of charismatic gifts?

8. Is there a different kind of membership for someone differing on secondary issues? Would it ever be considered?

9. What kind of church government structure is practiced? How does it work out in practice?

B. Ministry-Philosophy Questions

10. What is the process of being baptised and becoming a church member? How is baptism and membership encouraged?

11. What are the expectations laid upon church members?

12. How does the church practice church discipline? (What sort of discipline has been practiced in the past?)

13. Do the elders have any plans for expansion of the building or church planting?

14. What, if anything, would the elders want to see change or develop in the future? (each elder might want to answer individually!)

15. Do the church members generally (and happily) follow the lead of the eldership?

16. Can the elders give evidence of an openness to growing in their role? (by eg. reading resources on eldership, attending conferences, having a weekend away with pastor, etc)

17. In what ways (if at all) do you think my young age might affect my reception both in the church and among the eldership?

18. What would be the minimum and maximum expectations be of the frequency of the pastor’s preaching? (ie. is one Sunday evening off in preaching a month the minimum acceptable; on the other hand, would preaching every service without fail be deemed unhelpful)

19. What items in the current services are non-negotiable? What other items are deemed acceptable and have been featured in the past? Is the pastor responsible for putting together all orders of service?

20. Is the current practice of communion (format, timing, gap between service and communion) set in stone?

21. What sorts of things do the Ballymoney elders feel the pastor should not be doing with his time?

22. What are the congregational/eldership expectations (these two may be different) regarding pastoral visitation?

23. How often are business meetings conducted? Does the pastor moderate this? Are they productive and generally positive? What is typically discussed?

24. Does the church have a yearly budget and if so, how is it put together?

25. What is the church’s attitude and approach to missionaries?

26. Who is responsible for the website and library and how easy would it be for the pastor to make a significant input into each of these areas? (Note: I believe these resources would have some relation to my teaching function as a pastor)

27. Has the church ever had Fellowship Groups? If so, what is the leadership’s feeling about their significance?

28. What are the leadership’s views concerning counselling?

29. How would you sum up the spiritual health of the congregation in qualitative terms (against measurements like prayer, heart for evangelism, love for one another)?

30. What kind of impact have ‘the troubles’ and its aftermath had on the Ballymoney congregation?

31. Pardoning the expression, are there any ‘sacred cows’ in the church?

32. Would the congregation consider adding an additional paid staff member at any point?

C. Personal Questions

33. Would the elders have any objection to the pastor working from a church office? (my preferred place for sermon prep)

34. What is the view of the elders regarding the pastor resourcing himself? (conferences; the odd retreat to read & plan, etc)

35. Are there any expenses for things?

36. What is the rationale regarding days off and holidays?

37. Is there any scope for ‘preaching away’ from Ballymoney? (Note: I would be very cautious about doing much of this, especially early on, however)

38. Do you think it would be relatively easy for a young family to settle into the church/town? What challenges might Nicki and the children face?

39. What role would the pastor’s wife be expected to have in the church?

40. What are the schools like in Ballymoney?

41. How easy might it be to buy an affordable house in the Ballymoney area?



  1. Great questions Colin. Great to get these things clear from the outset. Praying for you, Nicki and the kids as you settle. Praying to that God would make you fruitful and productive in your new ministry. Keep in touch and let me know how I can pray for you.

    • should a baptist minister introduce his fiance on the pulpit as that or as a good friend?

  2. It would be interesting to know what answers you wanted to some of these – and fascinating to compare that with the answers you got!

  3. I didn’t know that a potential pastor could ask so many questions! I had always assumed that a minister pretty much had to hope that he would be accepted, given the competition for jobs in the preacher world. I mean, it seems like you’re pretty much guaranteed that the church will interview more than one pastor. I’m impressed that you get the chance to ask these questions!

    I’m going to tuck this away for another time. Thanks!

  4. […] 41 Questions To Ask a Potential Church […]

  5. […] Along with this post from Colin (the blog writer) today which is a useful set of questions for young pastors going into a new church. […]

  6. […] Browse this list of 41 questions a pastoral candidate should ask a potential church. […]

  7. […] I read this post on a blog that lists 41 questions that one pastor asked his church when they had invited him to be a pastor there.  Here is the original post. […]

  8. 33. Would the elders have any objection to the pastor working from a church office? (my preferred place for sermon prep)

    Do you mean a home office? Why would they object to a pastor working from a church office?

    • I had just have had an interview where they outright told me they didn’t want to see me in the office.

  9. […] 41 Questions To Ask a Potential Church Before being called to pastor Ballymoney Baptist Church, I inevitably faced a raft of questions from its […] […]

  10. Those are very insightful questions. Here are a few others that a pastor might consider.
    1. Why did you consider me?
    2. What is the “glue” that holds this church together?
    3. What are some of the best things the Lord has done in or through this church in the past 10 years?
    4. If there have been major troubles lately, have the current leaders searched their hearts and repented of anything they did wrong?
    5. What’s the best thing about this church?

  11. […] 41 Questions To Ask a Potential Church […]

  12. Thank you for this. These are all good questions to ask.

    This week I had submitted my resume to a “Bible believing Baptist” church. I had an interview with them this week and I asked them if their church practices church discipline. They did not know what that was nor had they ever heard of it. Through asking this question I found out that their worship leader who is on staff at the church was openly gay. And their church embraced it. I was then ridiculed for pointing out to them that this was sin. Had I not probed them on the issue of church discipline I may got down there and faced disaster. Sometimes churches can hide things from potential candidates. It is important for us to be discerning as much as they want to be with us.

  13. […] 41 questions to ask a potential church home. […]

  14. […] 41 Questions To Ask a Potential Church […]

  15. i haven’t been to church in a while, and it seems like everyone is just running whatever kind of church they want no matter what denomination they belong to. the most important question that i would ask a church is, “do you believe in Jesus Christ?” if they answer yes, then i would observe them to see if that’s true. if they cannot demonstrate a belief in Christ, then i don’t consider them a Christian church at all.

    • You’re right, of course. These 41 questions were questions for a pastor to ask a church that’s interested in asking him to come there. I think the assumption is that the people claim to believe in Jesus Christ.

      Still, as you say, not every church demonstrates that it’s really a Christian church. One church near me sent a full-color mailing inviting us to their Easter services. They had plenty of text, but forgot to mention Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, the resurrection or the Bible. They invited us to “Come celebrate new life.” They invited us to learn how to improve a marriage, but didn’t mention anything about people’s spiritual condition.

      Meanwhile, I’d urge you to ask the Lord to show you a good (not perfect) church. You need them. If you’re a real believer, they need you. May God guide you in that.

  16. […] Adams posted a list of 41 questions that he asked the elders of the church that was interviewing him for the position of pastor. These […]

  17. This list is so helpful. I am looking at grad schools right now,which may lead to a move in the near future. This list will no doubt serve me if that move comes. Thank you.

  18. […] As someone who is looking at Grad school and the move that might bring I found the post so helpful. Click here to view. ▶ Comment /* 0) { jQuery('#comments').show('', change_location()); jQuery('#showcomments […]

  19. I knew you had asked some questions but didn’t realise the width and depth of them. This is a biblical approach to God’s leading rather than the “it’s God’s will” approach, which I know can happen but somehow feels as if this statement tries to legitimise the decision. Often deep down in our heart we know when something is right, as you and Nicki did with your move to Ballymoney, but when heart,intellect, obedience and spiritual awareness comes together we know we have made the right decision, and are truly in “God’s will”. God Bless Mum xx

  20. […] This is a good list, and I would encourage you to read them and pass them along to anyone you know who is a pastor or is training for the pastorate.  Read the list over at Colin’s blog: Unashamed Workman. […]

  21. Great list of questions for such a situation… eases the “getting to know” phase of this context.

    However.. just think, for a moment, what if the biblical model of new leadership arising from WITHIN a given congregation were actively persued? None of these questions would be necessary, as everyone would already be “on the same page”, having been part of the church congregation for years. Part of why this model is far healthier. This bit of someone “from away” coming into an ongoing situation and trying to “find his voice” in the mix, become part of a “foreign” culture, and make a go of winning their hearts and minds to lead them is, in large measure, counterproductive. Raise up the young men already within the congregation to take those roles of leadership. All these issues and complications never arise.

  22. Lewsta,

    I think you’re right that its a more ideal situation if a pastor-teacher can arise within a congregation, but this isn’t always possible, especially in much smaller churches. Also, I’m not sure inside appointment is *the* biblical model. Timothy, for example, was taken by Paul to Ephesus and left there to be its pastor.

  23. […] One of the most significant things that my father ever said to me was, “When you come to candidate for a church, remember, the elders actually candidate for you.” This is something that every pastor, or aspiring pastor, should take to heart. Along these lines, Colin Adams–over at Unashamed Workman–has posted a list of questions that are extremely helpful, if only somewhat modified, for a man considering a call to a particular church. You can read it here. […]

  24. I teach Pastoral Theology and this is one of the subjects we cover. I give the men a list of potential questions the search committee could ask them and a list for them to ask the committee. Your list will be a helpful addition. Thanks for your insights. Dr. Tim White

  25. […] From a backlog of posts I’ve been meaning to link to: 41 questions to ask a church, before you become its pastor. […]

  26. […] a pastor asked his church when they had invited him to be a pastor at Ballymoney Baptist Church.  Here is the original post.  I thought some of y’all might like to read these so you can use them in the future if you […]

  27. My husband preferred working in a home office. You can work all night if you desire.

  28. Tow pepole blevie in Jesus chris as our savavor
    one do as god ask us to do like pray alwas and like ur neighber and pray for the pepeol whoes say bad on us and…..etc.
    the second blevei and dont do bad but he didnt pray
    he fight for his right love to have money for the future i mean he care about earth living but dont heart any one
    the two die and sience that the two blieve in juses as a savaivor and he wash them with his blood IS both of them they go to haven or our habit is important to God and the bad habit can stop us from haven

  29. […] is a post with 41 questions a potential candidate can ask a […]

  30. […] Workman (a top flight blog for preachers) gives pastors who are considering a potential church a list of questions to ask (41 in all).  Before being called to pastor Ballymoney Baptist Church, I inevitably faced a […]

  31. Brilliant! thank you this has helped me greatly as I am answering a a potential call soon- God Bless you


  32. Reblogged this on Our Community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: