Question and Answer
What is the biblical rationale for a pulpit committee?
What is the biblical rationale behind the formation of a pulpit committee that will be charged with searching for a new pastor? Is a congregational vote necessary to determine if the session will serve as the pulpit committee or a mixed group (elders, deacons and members)? If so, what scriptural support exists for the necessity, or even prudence, of congregational input?
To answer your question we must turn to Acts 14:23, where we read, "And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed." The word appointed has the force or meaning that the elders were appointed by the raising of handsthat is, by the congregation choosing them. Paul and Barnabas simply appointed these men after the people elected them by raising their hands.
Here is how this works out in practice: the man who will serve as pastor must be accepted by the people over whom he will exercise authority, which means they must be able to express their confidence, or lack of it, by some sort of means. Thus, having members either participate in the work of a pulpit committee or having them entrust that work to the session simply makes sense. Thus, a congregational vote would be held to decide the question of the composition of the committee. But this, in itself, goes back to the idea that there is an inward call that the proposed minister receives from God to serve in ordained office and the necessity of the outward call in which the church, i.e., the congregation, acknowledges the man is gifted for the office. Putting this into the context of the pulpit committee, the people should have the opportunity to either evaluate a candidate's suitability to serve as pastor or entrust that evaluation to the elders. That is the way Acts 14:23 fits into the answer to your question.
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