The Science of Calling a Pastor
By Dr. Jack Hyles

(Dr. Hyles'comments: The following chapter was intentionally left out of Science of the Christ Life, Volume One because I was not certain its application was relevant to others. At the encouragement of others, I include it here in Volume Two. Although some of the ideas here may not apply to your church, the principles involved will apply. My hope and prayer is that this chapter will help many of our churches, when calling a pastor, to avoid making mistakes which could cause the demise of a good soul-winning ministry.)
Occasionally I fell the need to teach this to the people of my church. I do not want to think about it. The thought of not being the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, is almost unbearable to me. I savor every moment of my time as Pastor. I savor every church bulletin. I savor every crowd. I savor every time I see the letterhead with my name on it as the Pastor of the church.

Although I feel no premonition of dying anytime soon, I do want to prepare my people for the time when I will no longer be their pastor. I honestly feel that at the time I am writing this book, I have several years left to continue as Pastor, but I also realize that at any time something could happen to me that would leave my church having to look for a new pastor.

Even if I were 40 years old, I would feel that I should teach this to my people, and I feel that every pastor should do the same. I wish that every pastor would teach people 'the science of choosing a pastor." I wish that every male staff member and every deacon of a Bible-believing church would study this chapter and keep it close at hand for that time when they will be forced to search for and call a new pastor for their church.

"Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest." II Chronicles 24:1,2

"But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died. And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house. Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the Lord; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear. And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus said God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because he have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The Lord look upon it, and require it. And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus. For the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and the Lord delivered a very great host into their hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash. And when they were departed from him. (for they left him in great diseases,) his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died: and they buried him in the city of David, but they buried him not in the sepulchers of the kings."

II Chronicles 24:15-25

In this passage of Scripture we see that Jehoiada, the man of God, led the people to put away idols and to serve the Lord. As a result, King Joash led the people during this time in his reign to serve the true God. The Bible says, "And Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest."

I do not magnify the man who is pastor of a church, but I do magnify the position of the pastor. Pastors have the most influence on a church. They determine the direction of a church. They are the ones who determine whether or not the church is serving God.

As a result of the influence Jehoiada had on Joash, Joash repaired the house of the Lord. As a result of Jehoiada's influence, the people offered burnt sacrifices to the Lord. As long as Jehoiada was alive, the people did right. As soon as the man of God was gone, everything changed. They quit offering their burnt offerings. Joash quit leading the people the way he should have led them. The people began to worship and serve pagan gods.

When Jehoiada died, a group of princes tried to gain control and change the people, taking them away from the revival they had experienced. That is exactly what happens to churches. Within days after a preacher leaves, the "vultures" begin to circle, trying to change the direction of a church. They begin to promote change in the church. They want to swing the pendulum of the church the opposite direction of where it had been.

Because of the fact that the man of God was gone, Joash listened to them. Why? The man of God was not there to stop them from changing the direction of the kingdom. One chapter later in the Bible we see the people totally changing from the mood of revival to paganism. One thing happened between those two chapters. The man of God died. When the man of God dies, those who want to change the church go to work to do so.

In every church people are already there who are waiting for the opportunity to change the church. They look and act like everyone else in the church, but they are waiting for the opportunity when the man of God is gone, so they can change the church's direction.

In this passage we see the fact that prophets came and warned the people, but the people would not listen to them. Why? The man of God was gone!

"And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus said God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness when Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, "The Lord look upon it, and require it. And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus."

II Chronicles 24:20-23

When Jehoiada was alive, no person could dent the armor of the people when they were attacked. When he died, they crumbled from within, and when the hosts of Syria attacked them, they were destroyed. That is exactly what happens in a church when the man of God is gone. Great churches are destroyed from within long before they are destroyed from without.

A great church does not have to die when it loses a pastor; yet, many do die because the people who remain do not have a science of how to call a pastor. First Baptist Church does not have to die when I am gone. For the sake of the people whom I love, I have taught them this science. I have a burning desire that years after I am gone there will be a church in downtown Hammond, Indiana, still as great as the church is today.

Most of the great churches of the last generation have gone down and lost their greatness. The reason that has happened is because the people did not know how to call a pastor. As a result, they called the wrong man, and the church began to deteriorate.

Here are the things that I believe should determined how my people call a pastor. Not all of them will apply to every church, but many will. In any case, it is important that those who are leaders within a church have a science of what should be done when facing this important task before it ever arises. Please understand that I desire for all of our fundamental churches to thrive, but many die when their pastor leaves. The solution is to teach them what to do when they are faced with having to find a new pastor.

l. Choose someone who believes the same Bible. Do not ask possible pastors what they believe or what they use. Ask them if they believe that the King James Version is the preserved Word of God. It is not enought that they use the right Bible; they must believe that IT IS the Word of God. Many men in America will say they are not saying that they do not believe in others. That is not good enough. The man chosen ought to believe that the King James Bible is THE inspired and preserved Word of God.

2. Choose someone who has the same standards, convictions and doctrine. Many churches make the mistake of choosing a pastor who is not as strong in his stand of separation as he should be. When that happens, a moral breakdown begins to take place in that church, and that church is headed for destruction. Choose a man who stands firm against sin AND against compromise and manifests that by enforced standards.

Often a church which once had strong standards will decide that they want to choose a man who is not as tough as the previous pastor. They end up calling a man who is not willing to confront the people and warn them of sin. Tragically, these churches suffer as the families in the church begin to lose their separation. Lives are destroyed because the church made a mistake when they called the next pastor.

3. Choose someone who is not a Bible expositor. There is not one expository sermon in the Bible. All of them are topical. I am not fighting expository preaching, but that kind of preaching will destroy a great church. Do not be swayed by their suave teaching. The great soul-winning churches have been pastored by topical preaching. I am not talking about evangelistic church; I mean soul-winning church! If you want a soul-winning church, you must call a pastor who preaches topical sermons.

Many of our once great soul-winning churches fell prey to the popular notion of expository preaching. They decided that they wanted more Bible, but when they got it, it cost them their effective soul winning.

4. Choose someone who comes to Pastor's School in Hammond, Indiana, every year. Everything bears fruit after its kind. A church like First Baptist Church needs to choose a pastor who desire to build a work like the First Baptist Church enough to keep coming back to learn how to do so. If a man doe snot feel that way, he will not keep the church the same. Many churches want a church sort of like the First Baptist Church of Hammond, but not exactly! If the man you call as pastor does not have a deep desire to build a church like that, he will change the church in many other ways as well.

5. Choose someone who sends students to Hyles-Anderson College. I realize that this may not apply to other churches like it does to First Baptist Church, unless they are trying to build a church like First Baptist Church, but I am trying to show you that there needs to be a science of this matter of choosing a pastor. Too many great churches are destroyed because they are left in the hands of people within that church who have an agenda of their own.

If a man does not realize the importance of sending his students to a church-run, independent, Baptist, separated, soul-winning college, what kind of ministry will he build if he pastors church that has been all of those things? Study the man! He has been sending signals in that which he has done in the past. If he has the wrong philosophy now, he will influence the church to have the wrong influence later. Do not allow a man to candidate for pastor who is not first carefully screened. He may get called to pastor the church based on his preaching rather than on the direction his ministry has gone in the past.

6. Choose someone who is a close fried and follower. The First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, is a fundamental Baptist church. it is a church that has stood for fundamentalism over the years. I am not bragging on myself, but God has chosen this ministry to influence an entire generation of fundamentalists. For that to continue, my church must choose a man who believes enough like I believe and who has been going in the same direction that I have been going. The great soul-winning churches in this nation are those who are followers of the ministry in Hammond, Indiana.

7. Choose someone who knows and emulates the work of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. A man who has emulated First Baptist Church already knows how to run a church like it. He already is familiar with what makes it tick. He has experience in building a smaller version of that church. It would be tragic if my church decided to call a man to pastor who had never pastored a church with the same philosophy with which we have built our church over the years.

8. Choose someone who is in our camp all the way. Do not choose a pastor who is weak in his loyalty to the causes for which we are fighting. That will change the direction of the church. Semi loyalty is disloyalty, and it is what changes churches. They went outside of their camp to find a pastor who swayed them by his personality or preaching. Stay in the camp to find a pastor. Check with whom they run and check who has been asked to preach for them in the past to see if they are truly in the camp.

9. Choose someone who will put the church above the schools. The church is most important, so the man chosen to pastor a church ought to be church oriented. He should be a man who has a bigger church than school, not the school. Let me give some principles regard this point.

(1) The church must continue to control the schools. This is vital in a church. When it is not the case, it is the beginning of the decline of a church.

(2) The Schools must continue to reflect the church. Everything about the schools should reflect the church. I am weary of churches that allow their schools to be different from their church. The music should reflect the church. The standards should reflect the church. The spirit should reflect the church. The soul-winning emphasis should reflect the church. 

(3) The pastor must lead both. Everything about our schools is run by me. Nothing is outside my control. No one does any thing without my approval. I pastor my schools as much as any other ministry within the church. The head of the schools ought to be preachers, not educators.

(4) The school leaders must continue to work in the church. Every school teacher and administer should be active in the church and should consider the church to be more important than the schools. This is why I do not hire educators. I want church people running my schools. Do not hire an educator to pastor a church. Hire a preacher so he will put the church first.

(5) The school people must continue to put the church first.

(6) A preacher must always be the head of the college. 

Up to this point I have given you the science of choosing a pastor that I have given to the people of the First Baptist Church. All our male staff members at the church have this on tape so that they will know what to do if I am gone.

No pastor who loves his people ought to allow them to be left without instructions as to how to replace him if he does or leaves. It is our responsibility to prepare them so that some non-preacher does not step in, take control and change the direction of that church. 

Let me now give you the science of how to go about the actual finding and choosing of a pastor.

(1) Appoint a committee with the following men:
*Deacon Chairman
*Two men from the Deacon Board
*Two men from the staff
*Two men from the college
*Two men from the schools

(2) This committee should seek for a man of God. They should do so diligently, prayerfully and carefully until they have found a man of God they think is the man for the job. Everyone else should leave them alone an pray for them. They should do everything privately until they believe they have found the man. They should check the man out completely on behalf of the church.

(3) They should ask him to come preach.

(4) They should have the candidates come one at a time. Do not have an election between candidates. Vote on one man at a time. Do not even look for another until you have decided yes or no on the one.

(5) The vote should be a 75% majority. Vote yes or no, but do not discuss the man openly. If he does not get 75% of the vote, drop him for good. Once has has been disqualified by vote, leave him alone, and do not try to change the people's minds.

(6) Once he has been chosen to be the pastor, he should be given a chance and he should be given time. I remember the early days of my pastorate of my church. I now know the church inside and out because I have been involved in every part of the church. I have been the watchman for many years. It would be very difficult for me or anyone to come in now and learn the church. It will not be easy for a new man. Give the man a chance in matters of administration. Do not criticize him. Do not make his job difficult. Pray for him. Love him. Give him a chance.

This is an unusual chapter. It contains very personal thoughts. Many who are not a part of the First Baptist Church of Hammond may think it silly or strange. Do not criticize the points I have made. Apply this chapter to your situation. If you are a pastor, teach your people how to keep alive your ministry after you are gone. If you are a layman, apply these things so that you will be prepared for the day when you are a part of a church that is getting ready to call a pastor.

Our great churches have been destroyed because we have not made a science of this most important matter of choosing a pastor. Make a science of this matter so that we can keep our great churches alive for generations to come.

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