Finding and contacting good potential candidates
Here some people would recommend going to your favorite Christian college first. I recommend against that as a first step. The first step should be looking inside your church before looking outside your church. By this I mean that the first choice for interviews should be your own church staff. I would recommend that you interview all the other pastors and assistant pastors and any “retired” pastors in the church membership. There may be good reasons why you do not want to interview or consider some of them, but they should be all examined by the Pulpit Committee before discarding them or going on the next steps.
Why should this be the first step? The reason is that if the assistant pastor has worked for several years in the church, he has certain advantages, or potentially has these advantages. First of all, he knows all the people. Second he has a general agreement on the vision, future, and position of the church. If he does, he probably won’t be hanging around still. Thirdly he can move into the pastorate much quicker and more fluidly than anybody outside the fellowship. As long as the church has not polarized with a group against him, he probably will have the majority of the members favorable towards him. There also should be a respect and courtesy to offer the pastorate to one of these assistant pastors if that is at all possible. At times the issue of immaturity (novice) comes in, and perhaps a man should be passed over, but that is where you should look first. Note that just because someone is on church staff does not mean that you should not serious examine him as you would anybody else.
The next most likely place is to ask recommendations of the pastors of fellow churches with the same faith and practice. Here again it is important that the members not do this, but the Pulpit Committee. They should be open to suggestions by the members, but the Pulpit Committee should be the only organ or point of contact. Here a simple phone call to pastors around the country that are in fellowship with that church would do wonders.
After that avenue has been exhausted, it would be proper to look elsewhere. Perhaps in groups that recommend pastors to churches or pastor fellowships. As a last point try contacting a Christian University. Christian Universities graduate a lot of preacher boys every year, and contacting them first will get you the youngest men usually (i.e. read that most inexperienced).
My personal recommendation is to NOT first go to your favorite Christian university, but rather pray that God directs you, investigate pastors looking for a church with various other pastors you know and trust, talk to some evangelists, and try to stay away from the new pastors that haven’t had any experience first. After spending some time looking only at experienced men, then open the door for unexperienced younger men. Wisdom would seem to indicate that somebody with some experience is better than somebody with no experience.