Step Four: Host a Pre-PNC Gathering

A pre-PNC gathering is an event hosted by the session (or nominating body) for members interested in learning about the role of  serving on a Pastor Nominating Committee.

Recommended event guidelines:

  • send out letters of invitation at least 3-4 weeks ahead of time and request RSVPs
  • print name tags from RSVP list
  • invite a panel of speakers to share their perspective including a liaison from the Presbytery and variety of people who have served on past PNCs to share about their experience
  • make name plates so speakers easily identifiable
  • Invite the interim pastor or moderator of session to MC the gathering
  • provide gracious hospitality and serve refreshments
  • plan a one hour agenda including Q&A. Honor people's time. Start and end on time.
  • create an attractive handout including FAQ (see suggestions below), a discernment process, and deadline for response
  • select someone to write a newsletter article and publish event summary on website

A sample letter of invitation:

Congratulations, you are being asked to consider nomination to serve on the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) of your church. We are hosting an event on (date, time, location) and hope you will join us to learn more about this opportunity to serve your church. Please RSVP by (date, to whom). Here are answers to questions frequently asked about serving on a PNC.

FAQs about the PNC

What is the task of a P.N.C.? The Presbyterian (PC/USA) Book of Order says that the single task of a PNC is to nominate a person to be called by your congregation as its pastor.

To whom is the PNC responsible? The PNC, elected by the congregation is responsible to the congregation, which will ultimately elect its next pastor.

But I thought the Session was the “governing body” for our church? That is correct, except the congregation “calls” a pastor who is nominated by the congregation’s PNC.

Who elects the PNC? The congregation elects the PNC. The Session recommends the size of the PNC and may also serve as the nominating body to develop a slate of nominees for election by the congregation.

How much time will serving on a PNC involve? This is the most important task you will probably be called upon to do in the life of your church. It is a time consuming task. Most PNCs meet weekly or twice monthly depending on the stage of the process. In addition, members are expected to read Personal Information Form (PIF) of applicants, watch sermons and either visit applicants in their congregations or hear applicants in neutral pulpits.

How long will it take us to find a new Minister? No one is sure. Most churches take about 12 to 18 months. A few take more or less time.

What help will the PNC get? A lot! The presbytery appoints a member of the Commission on Ministry to work with the PNC. The Presbytery Executive stands ready to lend their unique expertise. Persons who have served on PNCs in other congregations also stand ready to assist you. Consultants sometimes work with PNC’s to help align the work of the PNC with the congregation’s needs and desires. Consultants can assist in getting the word out to seminaries and other networks about the Pastor Search. It is not unusual for a church seeking to call a Head of Staff Pastor to employ consultants.

Should I accept this important assignment? Only you can make that decision. However, consider that you are being asked because others in your church think you can effectively do this task. With regular prayer together and the help of God it can be the highlight of your Christian Life. But in the final analysis, you must make the decision whether or not to serve your church in this generous way.

Thank you for prayerfully considering this invitation.

A Sample Discernment Process

Please take the next few days to for personal prayer and reflection to discern if this is the right time for you to serve on a PNC.

  • Consider the call of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-9. Like Abraham, ask God to make your sense of call clear to you personally over these next few days.
  • Consider the call of Esther in Esther 4:1-17. Like Esther, ask God if serving on this PNC is something to which you may be uniquely called to do.
  • Consider the call of Jesus’ disciples told in Matthew 4:18-22. As you follow Jesus and join in the church’s mission to make disciples (fish for people) pray for God’s guidance.

Also talk with your family about your interest in serving on the PNC. Seek their feedback especially in terms of the time commitment involved. Ask some friends to pray with you about this decision. Listen to their input. Consider what commitments may need to take a ‘second seat’ during PNC service. Before the deadline please let the Interim Pastor or Clerk of Session know if you would like to be considered for nomination to the PNC or not.