PUBLICATION DATE: JANUARY 20, 2012
hat happens when seven members of a Presbyterian church pile into an old van and go looking for a new pastor? Plenty of bickering, laughter, and drama…but also a lot of growth and discovery.
In The Search Committee, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in a small town in eastern North Carolina has moved to a position in a larger church in Atlanta, leaving the church members to form a committee to look for a new pastor. Each member of this group is busy with life and is going through struggles. As they spend more time together, however, bonds begin to form that these seven individuals never thought possible.
Join Travis, Bill, Matt, Susie, Joyce, Frankie, and Dot as they travel around three states to “steal” a new pastor for their church.
Being originally from a small town in the South, I thoroughly understand the concept (and the pitfalls) of a church search committee. My mom was even on a search committee when I was in middle school.
And just like I have mixed feelings about search committees, I have mixed feelings about this book.
After a slow start – it took a long time for me to figure out exactly where this book was taking place, who was who, and to settle in to the flow of things – I was able to enjoy parts of the novel. There were some humorous things that happened during their trips to visit the pastors, and I enjoyed when we were able to “listen” to the sermons right along with them.
However, this novel is written as more of a series of anecdotal events and background stories of the characters rather than a cohesive plot with a beginning, middle, and end. The overarching storyline of the search committee is there, but it seems to sometimes take a backseat to the situations the characters are dealing with. While this is great from a character development standpoint, I still sometimes found myself becoming distracted while I was reading. The fact that it was so based in reality also made the writing come off as coarse at times.
I almost feel as if this book would be better as a play. The author spends a lot of time telling you what things look like or how someone feels rather than showing you. In a play, you could cut out a lot of the “telling” because it would come alive on the stage instead. I am definitely not an author, so I have no idea how you go about writing by showing instead of telling. When an author does this correctly, you don’t even notice; however, when you do notice, it disrupts the overall flow of the novel, and that is what happened occasionally in this one.
This book also isn’t very balanced when it comes to which character is telling the story. This actually didn’t bother me that much, but others might prefer to have a more equal representation from all of the characters.
While this book revolves around church and church members, to me it didn’t seem to have much spiritual depth. The characters all have struggles, and they do go through a time of growth. It just seemed that the growth was attributed to themselves or to others or to circumstances rather than to God. Of course God can use many things for growth in our lives. But the ultimate glory should be to Him, and this was not clear in the novel.
The fundamental ending of this novel was predictable, but I actually really liked it.
If you are looking for something different from your standard Christian fiction novel, give this one a try. For me, it was a nice break from my usual historical romance, but the pace and structure of the novel kept me from enjoying it to its fullest.