Senior Pastor Search

Dear WCPres Brothers and Sisters,

The purpose of the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is to find a Senior Pastor to help us achieve our mission as defined in the Our Path Forward document. We pray that at the end of our work God will be pleased and that our church will be unified in affirming our decision.

In order to accomplish this task in a way that identifies Senior Pastor candidates that most closely match our congregation in a timely manner, Session has hired the AGORA Search Group to facilitate the process. We are excited to be partnering with AGORA and are very encouraged with their process, integrity and thoroughness. Our AGORA liaison has been a pastor, and understands churches, their needs, and the issues pastors face.

The PNC has worked with AGORA to develop a document that describes the position, our church community, and where we want to go as a church. The official search was launched with this document on Feb. 6th.

The next phase involves AGORA networking with over 3000 pastors and church leaders looking for interested applicants. If anyone at WCPres knows people we should talk to, please contact someone on the PNC. We will work with AGORA to filter applicants. AGORA will handle initial interviews. Their interview process becomes more intense as candidates rise to the top: AGORA’s final interviews involve our AGORA liaison meeting with them at their homes, and with their families, and having a long walk & talk where they will dive deeply into personal matters. By the time the PNC brings a final two or three candidates to Walnut Creek on-site interviews, each candidate will have had about fifty hours of interview time and between us we will have reviewed ten to twenty sermons. This weekend visit will be a carefully thought-through opportunity for candidates to evaluate us as we evaluate them.

Pastor Benjamin may enter this process. Because of his position here his application will be considered with the best candidates found by Agora. In fairness to the process, to him, and to the other candidates, he will then go through whatever interview process all other final candidates go through, and the same interview process by the PNC.

This search process involves talking with pastors who are currently serving churches and privacy is imperative. So as with every previous PNC, we will not be sharing names. Our aim is to be as transparent as possible with our congregation while retaining confidentiality.

Just as with any PNC, when we are done, the church will be presented with one candidate.

Brothers and Sisters, in order to honor our God and Father, the nominating committee asks three things of you:

  1. Uphold the integrity of this process and the expectations of discretion and confidentiality that come with it.
  2. Refrain from and combat rumor and conjecture among us whenever it arises.
  3. Please pray for us for our church, and for the person God is bringing to be our permanent pastor.

We will be updating the congregation regularly on our status using the following graphic. The detailed descriptions of each phase are listed below.

We are still in the “Discover” Phase of our search – see the graphic below for AGORA’s search stage descriptions.

As of the beginning of June, our AGORA contact Ryan Church had reviewed over 60 applications, with more coming in all the time. He has conversed with over 40 applicants for a minimum of an hour, and some for many more hours. And of these, he has currently passed on 15 names to us.

I speak with Ryan weekly at least. He speaks with the whole team at least monthly. He is doing a great deal of time-consuming legwork for our church and is moving us forward in our search much, much faster than we could do as your PNC. We have a great working relationship and we are moving through AGORA’s well-tried process, doing each step, moving candidates forward or releasing them as the PNC reviews them at each step. At each step Ryan spends more and more time with each candidate and at the appropriate time checks references and more . . .

We are currently in various steps of sermon-listening, video interviews, background checks and deeper interviews with 4 candidates. And have 2 new ones to evaluate just this week.

We are encouraged by the quality of candidates we are moving forward with.

We understand people are anxious for this process to be over. Not the least of which is the PNC itself! But because the process is thorough, it takes time, and it’s not possible to foresee when this task might be complete.

In addition to Agora’s process, you might be interested to know how the PNC is evaluating candidates:

  • We have read and are using tools presented in the book When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search by Chris Brauns which Agora recommended.
  • We are reading Simple Church, by Thomas Rainer and Eric Geiger which Session recommended as a pattern for our church to follow.
  • We use consistent evaluation forms for sermon reviews and for interviews.
  • We also listen to our hearts.
  • We have specific qualities we are looking for above and beyond the basic requirements –
    • Most importantly –
      • ECO has clearly described the character qualities and capabilities a pastor needs for ordination. These are well stated, biblically based and give us a sound starting point.
      • Obviously a pastor needs to be a good preacher and must be in agreement with ECO doctrine and governance.
    • In addition, we have listened to you, the members of this church, and to our Session and have put a priority on these 5 characteristics
      • Relational
      • Authentic Humility
      • Effective Director
      • Visionary
      • Gifted Disciplinarian

Be encouraged that the PNC come from many different perspectives, ages and stages of life. We have hopes and dreams for our church as you all do. All kinds of viewpoints are expressed in our discussions. We listen to sermons and responses to interview questions with different ears. We disagree on some candidates and overwhelmingly agree on others (both yays and nays!). We are praying together and individually that we can feel the heartbeat of our church and listen to the Holy Spirit and be guided to the best possible person to lead our church, to find the one God has waiting for us.

Please, please pray for us.

Lisa Chrisman, PNC Chair
June 30, 2019

The Search Process and Timeline

The AGORA search process flows through 4 intentional phases: Define, Discover, Discern & Decide. During these phases there will be specific responsibilities that fall upon either AGORA or the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC). Throughout the process both AGORA and the Search Team have the ongoing responsibilities of prayer and frequent meetings.

Click on a phase to learn more about it

Phase 1: Define

1-2 Months


Meet with hiring authorities
Discover your story
Day of discovery
Identify unique message
Create opportunity profile
Identify networking channels


Take online surveys
Host the day of discovery
Approve the opportunity profile
Create search website with link to AGORA
Update congregation

Phase 2: Discover

4-7 Months


Initiate networking
Conduct candidate interviews/video calls begin
Thorough referencing process
Meet final candidates including family dinner
Orchestrate weekend experience packets


Review candidate resumés & sermons
Decide candidates to move forward
Prepare for the weekend experience
Create weekend experience packets
Update congregation

Phase 3: Discern

1-2 Months


Gather information from final candidates
Complete thorough referencing calls
Present final candidates
Develop and present candidate portfolio
Debrief client
Debrief candidate(s)


Review 10 sermons of each final candidate
Calendar and finalize weekend experiences
Finalize interview questions
Complete weekend experience packets
Plan website/video announcement
Update congregation

Phase 4: Decide

1-2 Months


Meet with client on final decisions
Extend offer
Partner with client for successful on-boarding
Follow-and review


Present final candidate to governing body
Finalize announcement details
Celebrate what God has done!
Onboarding of new pastor