Book Review: What to look for in a Pastor by Brian Biedebach

A book designed to help pastoral search committees ask and answer six fundamental questions:

  1. Can the man preach effectively?
  2. What else should he do as pastor?
  3. Is he qualified?
  4. Is he theologically sound
  5. Does his practical theology match his written theology?
  6. How can a church find this man?

Quite a bit of the material is fairly standard fayre on pastoral character and responsibilities. However, Brian does make four valuable contributions.

1. A brief survey of what expository preaching actually means, considering three main views, and concluding with a balanced and comprehensive definition (chapter 1).

2. The much-needed biblical emphasis that the preacher must also be a pastor, a shepherd with seven responsibilities (chapter 2).

3. A history of the evangelical and fundamentalist movements over the last 100+ years, together with helpful graphics explaining the six different groups that now exist (three evangelical and three fundamentalist groups). Very helpful in identifying both where your church is and where potential candidates are in the theological spectrum (chapter 4).

4. How to find out if a man’s theology is merely theoretical or if it is also worked out consistently in his life (chapter 5). This is the best chapter in the book and helps pastoral search committees to get beyond a man’s verbal or written confession of faith to what he actually practices. He suggests six areas to discuss with a candidate: the authority of scripture, creation, the sovereignty of God, sin, music in the church, and spiritual gifts.

Pastoral search committees will find some helpful practical material in chapter 6 and in also the appendices, which contain questions to ask a prospective senior pastor and a checklist for clarity in a call.

Although this book will be especially useful to independent Baptist churches, all pastoral search committees would find this a useful book to study early in the search process.

Buy What to Look for in a Pastor by Brian Biedebach. Brian teaches at African Bible College and is helping to establish an international church in Lilongwe, Malawi. He blogs at By the Brook.