Free Pastor Search Committee Sample Letters, Forms & Messages


The following pastor search committee sample letters can be used throughout the hiring process. You can customize these templates as needed so that the language best fits your church.   

Any letter you send via mail should be printed on church letterhead. Enclose the letters in a plain white envelope and list the church's return address, unless you have envelopes with your church logo printed on them.  

However, instead of listing the church name as the sender, list the name of the head of the pastor search committee. This will help ensure confidentiality.  

If you are using emails instead, make sure to include church branding and visual templates in your emails.  

1. Resume Received

Our first pastor search committee sample letters are for when candidates send in their resumes.  

It's important to acknowledge the receipt of a resume. You shouldn't leave candidates wondering if their resumes even made it to your search committee.   

Example One 

Dear (Pastor, Father, Rev.) (insert name here),  

We are still in the initial stages of determining the needs of our church and praying to God that he would lead us to the right candidate for the job.  

For that reason, today, we just wanted to let you know that we have received your name. We will keep you in the loop as we move forward, whether we decide to pursue you as a candidate or not.  

We don't want to leave you wondering and paused while you seek God's path for your own life. If, during this time, God does lead you to another path, please send us a message letting us know, and we will remove your name from our search.  

God Bless,  

Your brothers and sisters in Christ 

(Chairman name), (Church name) Pastor Search Committee  

Pastor Search Committee Kit

Example Two 

Dear (title) (insert candidate name),  

Thank you for your resume and interest in the open position on (insert church name)'s pastoral team. We have received your resume and application.  

Our pastor search committee is in the process of reviewing all the candidates. We will begin reaching out to candidates we believe would be a good fit for our church in the next (number) (days or weeks).  

We will keep you posted on the status, and if we decide not to pursue you as a candidate, we will let you know.  

Thank you for your time, 

(Chairman name) 

(Church name) Pastor Search Committee 

2. Rejection Letter to a Pastoral Candidate

These pastor search committee sample letters are for your first round of applications. After reviewing, you will send them to candidates you don't wish to pursue further.   

Example One 

Dear Pastor or Reverend (insert name here),  

Our pastor search committee at (insert church name here) was given your name as a potential candidate for our open (pastor/reverend) position.  

We have been working hard to determine what candidates will best be able to meet the needs of our congregations. We have talked to our members and spent a good amount of time in prayer together.  

This task is not easy, and ultimately, we pray that the decisions we make will help our church continue to grow closer to God. During this process, we have been working to narrow our potential prospects.  

Currently, we believe that God is calling us to consider other candidates. We know that He has great plans for you, and it might be that He intends to keep using you in your current position.  

We appreciate your interest, and we thank you for the work you're doing to further the Kingdom.  

Your brothers and sisters in Christ, 

(Chairman name), (Church name) Pastor Search Committee  

Example Two 

Dear (Pastor or Rev.) (insert candidate name),  

Thank you for applying for a pastoral position at (insert church name). Unfortunately, we cannot bring everyone who indicated an interest in our church onto our team.  

We've spent time praying and evaluating the needs of our church, and at this time, we have decided to pursue other candidates.  

We appreciate your interest, and we pray that God will place a guiding hand on you as you continue to seek where He is leading you.  

Thank you,  

(Chairman name), (Church name) Pastor Search Committee  

3. Continued Consideration as a Candidate Letter 

The following pastor search committee sample letters are for candidates you want to continue pursuing.   

You'll enclose an evaluation questionnaire with this mailing. This evaluation questionnaire should include questions about the candidate's walk with Christ and their professional skills.  


Dear (Reverend or Pastor) (insert candidate name),  

Over the last few weeks, our pastor search committee has been working hard to discern the needs of our congregation. We spent a lot of time praying and in conversation.  

With prayer and the needs of our congregation in mind, we have reviewed candidates for our open pastoral position. We feel that you are a candidate who could serve our church well.  

We would love to hear more about who you are, so we have enclosed an evaluation questionnaire for you to complete. Please take the time to reflect and pray on the questions and return the information to us within (number of days.)  

If you're no longer interested in the position, please let us know by sending a note or email. When we receive your completed evaluation, we will take it as a sign that you continue to be interested in our church.  

Once we have received your evaluation, we will contact your references to find out more about you.  

Your brothers and sisters in Christ, 

(Chairman name), (Church name) Pastor Search Committee 


4. Letter to the Pastoral Candidate's References

Hopefully, your candidate sent references along on their resume, if not, ask them to provide them. This pastor search committee sample letter will go to the references after the candidate has provided their questionnaire. You want to ensure you include a pre-stamped, self-addressed envelope for the reference to return their evaluation of the candidate.  


Dear (Mr, Miss, Ms or Mrs.) (insert name here),  

You have been listed as a reference for (insert candidate name). They are currently a candidate for a pastor position at (insert church name).  

Our pastor search committee is reaching out to you because we are interested in your evaluation of them. After receiving your responses, we will proceed with further consideration of this candidate.  

Please see the attached survey and provide an honest and unbiased opinion of (his/her) current and/or past ministry to the best of your knowledge. Your comments will be kept confidential.  

Any insight that you can give us beyond the questions asked, both positive and negative, is appreciated to help us ensure we make a wise decision.  

We would appreciate it if you could return this reference within (number of days.) Thank you for your help, and please join us in prayer as we decide what honors God for our church. 

Your brothers and sisters in Christ, 

(Chairman name), (Church name) Pastor Search Committee 

5. Form for Pastoral Candidate's References

This next pastor search committee sample letters template will be the form you send to your candidate's references. Make sure you leave enough space for them to answer the questions.  

In addition, you can encourage them to add extra sheets if needed. 


Personal Reference Information form for the Pastor of (insert church name)  

(Insert church address)  

Reference of: (insert candidate name)  

Form completed by: (reference name)  

Please help our pastor search committee by answering the following questions. Feel free to attach extra paper or write on the back if you need more space. All answers will be kept confidential.  

  1. How long have you known the candidate? 
  2. What is your relationship?  
  3. What are their strengths as a pastor?  
  4. What are their weaknesses as a pastor?  
  5. Have you worked in the ministry with this candidate?  
  6. What capacity (i.e., deacon, choir, convention, member, Sunday school, discipleship training, etc.)? 
  7. How were their interactions with you and others in the ministry you referenced above?  
  8. What do you know about their family?  
  9. How does their family support and contribute to their ministry?  
  10. Are there problems within the family that would distract from ministry?  
  11. Do the candidates' sermons have substance?  
  12. Are his/her sermons biblical?  
  13. Do sermons hold the attention of the congregation?  
  14. What is one thing God has impressed on your heart recently from the candidates’ sermon? 

pastor holds many responsibilities within the church, and each of these responsibilities is essential to the ministry. We have listed several of those below. Please rank them based on your past interactions from what you believe is their greatest strength (indicated by the number 1).  

For example:  

  1. Administrator 
  2. Community relations supporter 
  3. Counselor 
  4. Denominational relations 
  5. etc. 


  • Administrator 
  • Community relations supporter 
  • Counselor 
  • Denominational relations 
  • Evangelizer 
  • Leader and Shepherd 
  • Missionary vision 
  • Prayer and worship leader 
  • Proclaimer 
  • Student 
  • Visitor 

Please see the attached sheet for further explanations of the responsibilities listed above.  

The Responsibilities of a Pastor 


Administrators are the main people in a church. They are responsible for the management of the church and the people in it. They lead the church, control the flow of information, plan for the future of the church, and guide the church to stay on the right path. 

Someone has to be on top of every single responsibility, and that is what the administrator does. They are responsible for the smooth operation of the church, not just the business of it, but the people too. 

The pastor should also have administrative skills so they can manage deacons, junior pastors, volunteers, and other church staff who are part of creating and guiding that vision. 

Community Relations Supporter 

Pastors are not only in charge of doing the service and adding to the congregation, but they also have to take care of the community as well. The pastor and the church have to be involved with the community. 

The pastor should go to the stores, church meetings, and other places and spread the Word of the church. By being present in the community, they will be able to notice any problems that might be going on and be able to come up with a solution. 


The Pastor is supposed to give guidance to members of the church. Guidance can be anything from personal, family, and even business problems. Some members of the church might not be able to solve their problems on their own. 

When that happens, the pastor should be there for them and help them. The pastor needs to have the ability to listen to people, have an understanding of their problems, and have the ability to give biblical advice. 

Denominational Relations 

The pastor not only needs to be involved with the church, but they have to be involved with the denomination. The pastor needs to know what happens in the denomination and what is supposed to happen. 

The pastor should know how to read and understand the denomination's policy and procedures. They should know how to answer on behalf of the church if ever a question needs to be answered. 


Evangelism is one of the most important roles of the pastor. They need to have a passion for sharing the Word of God. 

Leader and Shepherd 

The pastor should be a servant leader and shepherd. Doing this is not about making sure everything is perfect, but making sure everything is in line with God's plan. The pastor should make sure that God's purpose for the church is being accomplished. 


Missionary Vision 

The Pastor should also have a missionary vision. The pastor should have a strong desire to make all people know about God and His love for them. They should also recognize the fact that missions start in your own backyard. 

Prayer and Worship Leader 

The pastor should be a passionate and dedicated prayer and worship leader. They should be involved in all aspects of the church's prayer, worship and evangelistic activities. 


Every pastor has to be a proclaimer of God's Word. They are supposed to have a passion for reading, studying and preaching God's Word. 

Do sermons have substance and hold the attention of the congregation? This is an excellent way to judge if they have the skill of proclamation.  


The pastor should be a learning person. They should always be learning and studying. 

The pastor should be a student of other pastors and of other books that would help them in their duties. They should also be invested in their personal time with God and studying the Bible. 


The pastor should be a visitor to those in the church, the church's members, the sick, the homebound and the needy in times of joy and despair. In addition, they should have the ability to relate to members and be approachable.

6. Second-Level Notice of No Further Consideration

If you've received evaluations and references and further narrowed down your selection, it's important to let candidates know if they won't be moving on. That's what this pastor search committee sample letter is for.   

Example One 

(Rev. or Pastor) (insert name here),  

We appreciate the time you have dedicated to our process so far. We are continuing to pray and have narrowed down potential candidates that may step into the role of Pastor at (insert church name).  

At this time, we feel God is leading us in another direction. We will continue to pray for you and pray that God's will is done in your life.  

We know that He has great plans for you, and it might be that He intends to keep using you in your current position.  

Your brothers and sisters in Christ, 

(Chairman name), (Church name) Pastor Search Committee  

Example Two 

Dear (title) (insert candidate name),  

Thank you for the time you spent meeting with our pastor search committee about the open role on our pastoral team. We felt blessed learning about your past and current ministry. We know that your unique skills and qualifications will make you an asset to any team you serve with.  

However, at this time, we feel God is leading us in a different direction and have decided to pursue other candidates. We hope that your search continues to go well, and we will keep your information on file for future openings.  

God Bless,  

(Chairman name) 

(Church name) Pastor Search Committee  

7. Sermon Evaluation Form for the Candidate Finalists

When you've narrowed down your potential candidates, it's vital to have them come in and give a sermon. This pastor search committee sample letter, once filled out, allows you to see how they might fit into your church and hear some of their theology.  

During the sermon, you want to ask your pastor search committee to complete evaluations on the sermon. You can also visit their current church and see the preaching there.  

Make sure to leave enough space on the evaluation form for questions to get answered.  

Prospective Minister's Sermon Evaluation Form 


Ask the Candidate: 

  1. Will you be preaching at your church this Sunday? (y/n) 
  2. Can our committee visit your church to hear you preach? (y/n) 
  3. Will any other pastor search committees be present? (y/n)  
  4. Are you available to meet with us before the sermon?  
  5. If unavailable before: can we meet privately in the afternoon? (y/n)  
  6. What time do your services begin?  

Additional Notes on pre-visit questions:  

If there are special sermons or events going on, it might not be a good time to visit. Make sure you talk to the candidate about when a good time to visit is.  

If the candidate has another search committee visiting, let them know that won't disrupt the process; however, you would like to visit at a time when they're available. Ask them to follow up with a good time.  

Candidate Name: 

Church Name:  



Answer with detail the following questions: 

  • What points in the sermon stood out or were impressive?  
  • Was the sermon biblical?  
  • Was prayer incorporated, and how?  
  • Was the sermon in line with the beliefs of your church?  
  • Was scripture used throughout the sermon?  
  • Was it applicable, and how?  
  • How long was the service?  
  • Describe the candidate's appearance and stage presence  
  • Were there any red flags 

Answer the following questions with a yes or no:  

  • Was the message positive?  
  • Was it obvious the pastor was prepared?  
  • Were they enthusiastic? 
  • Did they speak clearly?  
  • Were they inspiring?  
  • Did they engage the congregation?  
  • Did they appeal to emotions?  
  • Did they use humor?  
  • Did they appeal to the mind?  
  • Did you sense God's presence?  
  • Was the sermon organized?  
  • Was the sermon doctrinally sound?  
  • Did the candidate use good illustrations?  
  • Could you follow the sermon?  
  • Would this style of preaching meet the needs of your church?  

Additional Comments (please expand on anything that caught your attention or you believe is important to note about the sermon):  

Committee Member's Name: 

8. Authorization for Release of Records

If you decide to continue exploring a candidate as a possibility, the next step to take is a background check. This will let you know if the candidate can legally serve as a pastor at your church.  

It will also give you an idea of their background and let you know if they've left anything important out. This form will need to get notarized.  



To confirm my ability to serve as pastor of (insert church name), I understand that the Church is conducting a personal background check. 

I, (leave space for the candidate to print their name), do hereby authorize any law enforcement agency, military organization, doctors, insurance companies, educational institutions, governmental agencies, banks and credit agencies, former and present employers, and individuals, to furnish to (insert church name) any or all available information regarding me, whether or not it is on their records. 

I hereby release them from any civil or criminal liability whatsoever for issuing the same. 

Social Security Number: 

Driver's License Number:    




Looking for Free Materials and Guides for Your Pastor Search Committee?

The Pastor Search Committee Handbook Cover

Hiring a new pastor is a big decision, and it isn't easy. That's why we built a free kit complete with...

  • 49 sample pastor interview questions for your interviews.
  • Pastor search committee sample letters to communicate with candidates and references.
  • Sample form of an authorization of records to conduct a background check.
  • Sermon evaluation form sample for pastoral finalists.
  • Sample survey questions for your congregation to identify the characteristics most important to them in a future pastor.
  • A pastor search committee handbook to guide you through the process of choosing a new pastor.

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