The Search Committee
This fictional novel about a Presbyterian church’s search for a new pastor features the lives of the seven very different people on the search committee and the struggles and trials that they endure during the year that they’re thrown together to find a new pastor. Since this is not how our church operates, I was interested in learning about how a search committee works while enjoying a fictional story at the same time.
The story itself was very relate-able to regular churchgoers. My favorite parts were the chapters where they were driving to or attending church services while searching for the new pastor — the characters had some interesting experiences that were kind of humorous, and the various personalities within the committee had a familiarity that made me smile. I had thought that’s what the whole book was going to be like, and would have enjoyed hearing the story week from week in the context of their drives.
Much of the book, however, took place outside the actual search and dealt with the committee members’ personal struggles throughout the year — coping with the death of a spouse, guilt from the past, marital problems, midlife crises, etc, etc. I think it was a good reminder that you don’t really know where someone else is coming from, even if you consider yourself “close” to them, they may be dealing with beneath the surface that you don’t realize. On the other hand, I enjoyed the lightheartedness of their Sunday morning searches better. There were a number of lengthy sermons that were worked into the story as they attended worship that all sounded a bit alike after awhile — it didn’t *sound* like they were written or presented by different people; they all had very similar structures and tone, and while they had good messages, the last was the only one that I felt really connected with the rest of the story — the others seemed too much just like placeholders. Also, I didn’t think there was enough Gospel. The situations that the church members found themselves in weren’t resolved by prayer or putting their trust in Christ; one of the stories in particular wasn’t even resolved in a way that I believe would be God-pleasing. I was kind of surprised that for a story that revolves around a church and its members, it didn’t even seem to occur to them to turn to God’s Word for comfort, direction, and guidance.
Overall, kind of a neat idea for a church-related story, but it didn’t really live up to my expectations.