The American people are about to elect a president. Far be it from me to tell anyone how to vote in this space—though I’ll be glad to harangue you with political advice if you call me in the next few days—but all the political folderol of recent weeks has me thinking it might be better if we elected a president the way many churches choose pastors.

Suppose the country had a Presidential Search Committee in the way churches utilize Pastoral Search Committees. We used to call them Pulpit Committees. If the nation had one, we could call them Bully Pulpit Committees.

Of course, the first controversy would be over who gets to (or has to) serve on the committee. In many of the Pastor Search Committees I’ve observed, each major group in the church (deacons, youth, women’s missionary group, grumpy old men, etc.) gets a representative. If we used that process at the national level, we’d have to have representatives from the Senate, House, Federal bureaucracy, state governments, Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, aging rock stars, reality TV celebrities, etc. We’d end up with a committee of about 6,325 members, ranging from Harry Reid to Honey Boo Boo.

Can you imagine the first committee meeting as it tries to establish a profile of the ideal candidate for president? Pastor Search Committees tend to touch lightly on the biblical requirements for ministers then paint their own profiles: under 35 with 40 years of experience; dedicated family man with three kids who spends all his waking hours in church committee meetings; etc.

Likewise, the Presidential Search Committee would consider the constitutional requirements, quickly ignore them, then create their own wish list: firmly non-partisan while being an aggressive advocate of his or her own political party; believes in increasing spending on defense, education, health, transportation and everything else while promising to cut the taxes of everyone except Bill Gates; a person of strong character who holds firmly to his own values while promising to do whatever people want him to do.

The next step would be the collection of a few million resumes (better call in Microsoft and IBM to manage that task) and the process of reviewing those resumes to narrow it down to a few thousand candidates. (“I like this guy. He has sterling political qualities, and that wavy blonde hair would look great on TV.”) Then would be the interviews, arguments and factions. By the time we got through the process, we’d probably have to split into a hundred bickering principalities (First National Country; Second National Country; Unity Country; Unity Country No. 2; etc.). Then the winning candidate wouldn’t accept because of the mileage allowance for Air Force One would be too low.

Maybe we’re better off selecting a president the way we’ve been doing it. We may not always get the best guy, but at least it doesn’t cause a fight among the deacons.

“My name is Michael Duduit, editor of Preaching, and I approve this column.”

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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