Monday, November 17, 2008

Stuart Briscoe on choosing candidates

One added benefit of the [Elmbrook Church] Study Center became evident over the years as more and more people who would never have gone to seminary completed the training we offered (all the time supporting themselves in their secular jobs and pursuing their ministries in the church. This meant that when we had a vacancy on the staff or an opportunity to develop a new ministry, we didn't have to look very far for a suitable person to give leadership. "Look under your nose first" became a rule of thumb as we built our pastoral team. Added to this, we had a system of internships in which young college students who had shown gifts and aptitudes compatible with ministry were invited to spend a summer working with us at the church. Over the years a number of them found their way into pastoral ministry or missionary activity. Little tributaries were flowing in many directions.
I am not at all enthusiastic about modern methods of "recruiting and hiring" in which resumes of hundreds of people are gathered, endless procedures of vetting and interviewing ensue, various "candidates" are displayed, and eventually one person survives the process. While one church is satisfied and one pastor is happy, many ministries are disrupted, dozens of ministers are distracted, and most of them are disappointed. This issue came to a head early in my ministry when I presented someone as a suitable member of the pastoral staff to the church leaders. One of them asked me, "How many people have you interviewed for this position?"

"One," I replied.

"One?" he questioned, startled. Then he added, "How can you possibly know he's the best person for the job?"

"I don't," I freely admitted. "But I know him, I know his heart, I know what he can do and what he can't do, and I think I know where he can grow. In addition he knows us and he has no illusions about what he's getting into. So why look any further? He may not be the 'best,' but he's one of ours and certainly good enough. And why should we have the best anyway?" I happen to believe good enough is good enough-- and in a fallen world, there's no such thing as perfection.

[From Flowing Streams: Journeys of a Life Well-Lived by Stuart Briscoe. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008, p. 133.]

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