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Pastor Search Process

For Churches

How do we begin the search for a new pastor?

Looking for a new pastor can be a daunting task. When a pastor leaves, there are so many dimensions: a sense of loss—ranging from sadness to relief. There’s a sense of wondering about where we’ve been as a church, where and who we are right now, and what next? This is a time to be still for a moment, and to gain awareness about who we are, and what kind of gifts our next leader might have to offer. In short, this is a time for prayerfulness, and a time for reflection and conversation as a church.

The whole process may likely take a while—a year or more is not uncommon. But it is an adventure of faith and hope and love! Things you can do? Pray together. Reflect together. Using the PastorSearch will make the process much simpler. One of the things it’ll ask you to do is prepare a church profile. The serious work of vetting potential pastors really does belong to you! Check references and engage in conversations and then, after doing all you can, keep in mind that God’s hand and Spirit move in mysterious ways. There just isn’t any possible way to guarantee that a perfect fit will result. Relationships are dynamic and fluid and utterly human, for better and for worse.

Search Committee Resources

More Than a Search Committee is designed for use by search committees, councils, and pastors. Hard copies are available through Faith Alive. The tool identifies helpful protocols, healthy etiquette, and significant resources.

Create a church profile.

Join the conversation on The Network.

If you are considering calling a candidate, please refer to the article "Thinking About Calling a Candidate."

The following forms will be used during the calling and installation of a new pastor:

Additional forms and certificates can be found on the Resources for Stated Clerks page.

View a video the church's leadership can use to inform the congregation about their time of transition.
View a video about how to minimize the impact of unconscious bias in your search process.

Finding a Pastor

PastorSearch is a process that churches can use to find a pastor. Components include:

  • Availability of minister profiles to Pastor Search Committees
  • A place on the CRCNA website, called Church Positions where churches can post their open positions, as well as the church profile, job descriptions, etc. This is a place where pastors can see which churches are looking for a new pastor.

To begin your search for a pastor you are invited to email [email protected] for more information and guidance by staff of Pastor Church Resources.

For more information see this article, "Search Committees, How the CRCNA Can Help You Find Your Next Pastor."

For Pastors


PastorSearch is the process by which churches and pastors can find each other.

  • Many church position openings can be found in the Church Jobs section of The Network.
  • Churches are encouraged to post their profiles in Church Jobs or on their church website. Churches can be found at the Church Finder section of the CRCNA website and many have a website listed.
  • Pastor Search Committees may register for access, through a portal, to all minister profiles during their time of searching for a pastor.

All minister profiles will be available for access by registered Pastor Search Committees. As a pastor, you’re encouraged to create and keep your profile updated in the Minister Portal. Frequent updating is critical in maintaining the integrity of the pastor search process. Instructions for the Minister Profile in the Minister Portal

The “make visible” option has been removed from the minister profile form. In keeping with the provision of Church Order Supplement Article 8A, if you’ve been in your current position for more than two years, you’re eligible to be contacted by pastor search committees. It’s more than likely that you’ll be contacted more frequently than you’ve been in the past. Your cordial response to inquiries is appreciated.

In addition to checking available position openings in Church Jobs, you’re encouraged to utilize other approaches to discovering and discerning possible calls. For example, responding to ads in The Banner, and networking with colleagues, classical functionaries, and others that may provide additional opportunities for conversation.

For more information see the articles "Pastors, Here's How the CRCNA Can Help You Find Your Next Call" and "Pastors, How to Interview Your Next Church."

If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected].

For Churches and Pastors

Former Pastor Guidelines

Synod 2009 approved guidelines for maintaining a healthy relationship between a congregation and former pastor. These guidelines are especially important in situations where the former pastor becomes a "regular" member in that same congregation upon either retirement or taking up a ministry role outside of the congregation. See Agenda Synod 2009, pp.45-52 for the context of these guidelines as a response to an overture from Classis Grand Rapids East in 2008. You may also find this former pastor agreement helpful.

This article demonstrates that guidelines do not tell the whole story, or even the only story.