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If you have ever dealt with a pastor or staff search committee, you perhaps noticed a significant gap in what the committee told you during the search process, and the reality at the church once you arrived.  This is known as Search Committee Syndrome — the tendency for search committees to overstate, underplay, hope-for-the-best, or be clueless about their own church.

Search Committee Syndrome affects 100% of search committees according to the latest study by The Search Committee Institute based in Nashville, Tennessee.  According to the executive director, Reverend Ben D. Seevd, “search committees can’t help themselves, but they really mean no harm.”

Try telling that to the pastor who was assured by the search committee “of course, we want to grow” followed by “we’ll do whatever it takes to reach people.”

This phenomenon seems to cut across all denominational lines, and even extends to non-denominational churches that are really cool and have their own baristas.

Indicators that Search Committee Syndrome might be present in a group are:

  1. The group is called a “Search Committee.”
  2. The group consists of men and/or women.
  3. The group wants to find the best person for the job, including the person God has chosen, (assuming that he or she is willing to accept the salary package they have chosen).
  4. The group conducts meetings.

So, there you have it.  By using these four surefire Search Committee Syndrome indicators, you can be prepared in advance when dealing with your next search committee.  Remember:  all search committees are liars, but not intentionally.  That will make the next five years of sorting out conflict much easier, according to Rev. Ben D. Seevd, who apparently speaks both from his extensive research, and a sad personal history.

Caution: there is no cure for Search Committee Syndrome.  Furthermore, it can be contagious, spilling over into Resume Inflation Syndrome, I’ve Got To Get Out of Here Syndrome, and I Hear God Calling Me Elsewhere Syndrome.  Be careful out there.