In principle, what needs to be known about the nominees can already be known. It is a candidate’s past performance, outside the walls of Synod Hall, that really matters. Evidence can be gathered from the spheres in which his ministry has been exercised, for that evidence already exists in the real world amongst the real people who have experienced his ministry already. There is nothing mysterious about any candidate, the data simply needs to be gathered:
Has he been gospel focussed (or not)? Has he encouraged Christ’s mission (or not)? Does he clarify gospel truth and stand for it (or not)? Has he made good appointments of other people (or not)? Has he built and encouraged a ministry team (or not)? What is his track record of growing a congregation in strength and size (or not), or of successfully planting and growing new congregations (or not)? Does he know the world of the laity””has he encouraged ”˜people like me’ in my part of Christ’s mission-field (or not)? Does he know the weaknesses and struggles of being a human being in a suffering world, so that, having been comforted himself, he can bring the comfort of the grace of God to others (or not)? Does he know how to encourage his fellow clergy to keep at their task of shepherding God’s flock with patience and joyful endurance (or not)?