Pastor Candidate Questionnaires

May 6, 2009

Is anyone else tired of filling out questionnaires?

Just today I finished three different questionnaires. One was for a job at a college, one was for a church planting opportunity, one was for pastoring. They all ask the same questions but in different ways. It makes it impossible to simply cut and paste your information from one to the next. Isn’t it possible to somehow standardize pastoral candidate questionnaires?

I understand the purpose of pastoral candidate questionnaires. They are designed to better weed out people who really are not the right people for a pastoral position. That is a good thing! In an age when a million people can apply for a single rural church through the wonders of the internet, things like pastoral questionnaires are helpful. Here is where they are not helpful:

1) A pastoral questionnaire that you send out to every individual who applies that is 7 pages long and asks you every possible question, is not helpful.

2) A pastoral questionnaire that asks the same things that are on a resume, yet you still ask them, is not helpful.

3) A pastoral questionnaire that asks for your mother’s maiden name and your medical history is not helpful.

4) A pastoral questionnaire that you really will not look at (because you end up asking the same questions later) is not helpful.

A pastoral candidate questionnaire should be something that initially weeds out undesirables but does not force every candidate to provide transcripts of their schooling, a DNA test, and a credit check. It should ask basic questions like answers to basic theological question and controversial issues, how you would handle different situations, etc. It should not ask what will be on a resume or what can be heard on sermons. When a church decides to move forward with a candidate then they can ask more specific and probing questions throughout the process.

When I filled out a 10 page pastoral questionnaire last year and I never even received confirmation they received it, I realized there was big problem when it came to churches and questionnaires. A church of 50 people should not Google “pastoral candidate questionnaire” and pick one at random that better applies to a church of 300. Ask the questions that are pertinent to the specific church. You will make less work for yourself and not frustrate the candidates incessantly.

Any other thoughts about pastoral candidate questionnaires?

Maybe Next Time He’ll Think Before He Speaks

December 5, 2008

You will enjoy this little video I came across. All too often we pastors only talk about our wives as sermon illustrations. We should love and respect them more than that!

Thankful for My Pastor

November 26, 2008

dadWhile he isn’t actually MY pastor, I am very thankful for my father. My father, Allen Mickle, recently became Pastor of Walkerville Evangelical Baptist Church in Windsor, Ontario. After the church had searched for over 4 years for a new pastor, my father, became their new shepherd.

I went to seminary with my dad and he graduated with his MDiv when I graduated with my ThM. I had the privilege of taking Greek with him among other classes. He studied hard, worked hard, and graduated with a higher GPA than I did! But studies were not everything for him but he was focused on living out his studies as well. He actively served in teaching ministries and outreach ministries.

Now he faithfully serves his flock in Windsor. He preaches expositionally from the Word and teaches his people the whole counsel of God. He has a desire for them to reach out into the community at large with the life changing message of Jesus Christ.

The people love him and he loves them. I was there at his church this past Sunday teaching the adult Sunday School class and preaching for him. I challenged the people to love him and obey him and I challenged him to love and teach the people.

While he is not my pastor directly, he has been my pastor as my father over the years and would be honoured to serve Christ under him at that church.

Please pray, love, and obey your pastor today! Whether he is your father or not!

Pastor: Remember the Spiritual Disciplines

October 23, 2008

I was privileged to attend the monthly meeting of the Toronto Pastors Fellowship this past Monday (held at Richview Baptist Church). My good friend Michael Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented an excellent paper titled, “Pastor: Remeber the Spiritual Disciplines.” There he dealt with the tradition of our Calvinistic Baptist forefathers in the area of the Word and preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. I was deeply challenged and encouraged by it. The paper and the audio of the session are available here. I would encourage you to attend next month (November 17) when Pastor Stephen Kring of Bethesda Baptist Church, Delhi, ON will be presenting “Pastor: Give Guidance in Finding God’s Will.”  Also, check out September’s excellent meeting with Pastor Paul Martin of Grace Fellowship Church, Toronto giving his paper on “Pastor: Mentor the Young Men.”

If you are interested in attending, please register here. There is no charge!

Toronto Pastors Fellowship

September 4, 2008

The new year of the Toronto Pastors Fellowship is upon us! As someone who has attended the monthly meetings in the past you will find this time challenging and encouraging. Be prepared to be instructed by some of Toronto’s best pastors and theologians and ready to enjoy sweet fellowship with others. The first meeting will be on September 22 (I must miss it as I will be in Russia). Paul Martin, Pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto will be speaking on Pastor, Mentor the Young Men! An ardent spokesperson and practitioner of mentoring future church leaders, this promises to be a most excellent event!

So, be there and grow in your walk with Christ as you experience iron sharpening iron with other ministry leaders! For more information, visit the Toronto Pastors Fellowship website.

The Rebirth of the Pastor-Theologian

April 15, 2008

In ages past, the pastor of a congregation could be seen to be the most educated and knowledge person in a community. People would come to him for advice on a number of issues from basic questions of the faith, child rearing, business issues and other things. The pastor was not just someone who met felt needs but was someone who communicated the awesome truth of the Word of God. While he did not have all the answers, he was knowledgable in the Word and in the systematic understanding of that Word. In my particular context I think of Particular Baptist pastor-theologians like Andrew Fuller, John Gill, Abraham Booth, Hercules Collins, William Kiffin, Benjamin Keach, Hanserd Knollys, and C. H. Spurgeon.

Then something terrible happened. People decided it was not the role of the pastor any longer to be the pastor-theologian. On doors it read “Office” instead of “Study.” Pastors became execustives and long range visionaries. They became warm fuzzy people whose goal it was to meet the felt needs of people. You would find them reading People magazine to be “in touch” with culture more than they would be reading Augustine to get in touch with theology. What happened?

David Wells of course documents much of the fall of the pastor-theologian in his incredible book, No Place for Truth. In this, and the three follow-ups to that book, Wells historically traced the fall of the pastor-theologian and the Evangelical church at large and offered up helpful ways to bring back a Word centered and Trinitarian ministry.

While we have a long way to go, I am encouraged at seeing something of the rebirth of the pastor-theologian. Seminaries are recognizing that what is needed is not CEO’s or counselors (although aspects of those models are helpful to the pastor) but instead a Word saturated preacher of the Word of God who will shephered and guide his people into knowledge of Christ. Books are being written to encourage a Word centered ministry. Conferences like Together for the Gospel and Shepherds Conference and the Desiring God conference are all being focused on training up a new generation of pastor-theologians. What then is a pastor-theologian? In my mind, this is someone who:

1. Has a deep and profound personal life with God (i.e. through personal study and prayer)

2. Studies the Word intently and seeks to apply it in such a way to his hearers that it transforms.

3. They be students of all areas of knowledge as all truth is God’s truth. They are not simply students of the Word but students of history, music, art, science, sociology, etc.

4. They are compassionate people who are lover’s of men’s souls, both saved and unsaved.

5. Seek to transform the culture they live in through living a transformed life and seeking to transform the lives of those around them.

6. They are normal parts of society. They are not cloistered away from the world but seek to be familiar with politics and other such areas. They have a committed view of the Christian’s role in society.

7. They strive to pursue holiness and serve as a model for others.

8. They mentor the future generation of church leaders. They are not glory hogs but seek to defer to the gifts of others and train up men and women to be leaders in the church. They work to put themselves out of a job.

These are just some of my thoughts on what it takes to be a biblical pastor-theologian. We are living in an age of refocus of priorities. We are seeing men everywhere take seriously their callnig to be a minister of the Gospel and seek to better themselves so they can better those in their charge. They are not some marketer or church growth guru, but they have a commitment to the Word of God and teaching it and preaching it boldly and with great conviction to their people. That is a pastor-theologian. Praise God for their rebirth and pray for the continued growth of men around the world striving to be a godly pastor-theologian.

John Newton on the Pastoral Ministry

December 4, 2007



I just received the book Beyond Amazing Grace: Timeless pastoral wisdom from the letters, hymns and sermons of John Newton compiled and edited by J. Todd Murphy (Evangelical Press) for review in the Criswell Theological Review. He includes an extended quote from Newton’s work, A Plan for Academic Preparation for the Ministry, which definitely needs to be widely read! The first part is about the nature of one called to the pastorate. The second one is about the qualifications of one who teaches others to be pastors. I quote it exactly as it is found in Beyond Amazing Grace.


My first maxim is that none but the one who made the world can make a minister of the gospel. If a young man has capacity, [then] culture and application may make him a scholar, a philosopher, or an orator; but a true minister must have certain principles, motives, feelings, and aims, which no industry or endeavours of men can either acquire or communicate. They must be given from above, or they cannot be received…


I adopt, as a second maxim, that the Holy Scriptures are, both comprehensively and exclusively, the grand treasury of all that knowledge which is requisite to make the minister the man of God, thoroughly furnished for every branch of his office…


For his first essential, indispensable qualification, I require a mind deeply penetrated with a sense of the grace, glory, and efficacy of the gospel. However learned and able in other respects, he shall not have a single pupil from me, unless I have reason to believe that his heart is attached to the person of the Redeemer, as God-man; that, as a sinner, his whole dependence is upon the Redeemer’s work of love, his obedience unto death, his intercession and mediatorial fulness. His sentiments must be clear and explicit respecting the depravity of human nature, and the necessity and reality of the agency of the Holy Spirit, to quicken, enlighten, sanctify, and seal those who, under his influence, are led to Jesus for salvation…


I should look for my tutor among those who are called Calvinists; but he must not be of a curious, metaphysical disputations [i.e. argumentative] turn [of mind], a mere system-monger or party-zealot. I seek for one who, having been himself taught the deep things of God by the Holy Spirit, in a gradual experimental manner; while he is charmed with the beautiful harmony and coincidence [i.e interdependence] of all the doctrines of grace, is at the same time aware of the mysterious depths of the divine counsels, and the impossibility of [their] being fully apprehended by our feeble understandings. Such a man will be patient and temperate in explaining the peculiarities [i.e. the distinctive features] of the gospel to his students, and will wisely adapt himself to their several states, attainments, and capacities.