Handy Dandy Tips for Navigating #PCUSA call process for PNC from a pastor

PCUSApastor

Dear PNC,

     1. You are awesome, seriously this is a lot of work, much group prayer and more! Here are some things I’ve learned from “my” perspective as a candidate that might help you know the process

a. this is not a corporate job–its more like dating, the interest needs to be mutual. Although you (the church) do take the more “traditionally male” role in doing the asking, you get to indicate to the pastor when you want to first speak person-to-person.

b. There are three kinds of referrals on the clc.pcusa.org website. the NUMBERS only are SELF-REFERRALS straight from the pastor, indicating interest. The EP numbers are referrals made by an EP (probably yours altho possibly the pastor’s). The other numbers, cs or crs are computer generated matches (which are definitely valid but are without a human hand).

c. When you email/call or do any kind of contact kindly include your MIF #. Getting an Email from Springfield PNC and not knowing what state Springfield is in, makes it difficult for me to indicate my interest.

d. Pastors do NOT get updates (by email or otherwise) if they have been matched to a church. (Actually what you have to do is filter through ALL the churches that have ever matched you and try to find you). This means the pastor might have missed you on their “matches.” Its not that the pastor is uncaring, its just that the pastor gets many matches from churches who will never call or indicate interest, plus a working pastor is probably busy taking care of his/her own ministry, so again, include your MIF number and expect that the pastor will have to remind themselves who you are before he/she proceeds.

e. PNC defines the process. As you know you spend a lot of time deciding what the next step is in the process, try to keep the candidates informed as to where you are and what the next step is, and (approximately) when that step will be taken.  (also, unanimous decisions might be trickier than you think and we believe in consensus and embrace differences, so do the best you can and think twice about requiring unanimous decisions)

 

f. Different Churches have different technologies: The pastor only has 1 video sermon? Probably that was really hard to finagle. Do not assume that the church’s technological knowledge is the same as the pastor. Maybe the pastor wants taped sermons or video streams but the church just can’t get it together. Be open minded about how sermons come your way.

g. Similarly most churches don’t know their pastor is looking: It may be as simple as the pastor isn’t ready to tell them or some other complicated reason. Getting congregational references might not be possible if the pastor is doing a closed search (i.e. their current church doesn’t know). Professional, Peer and Educational references tend to be what you get. Usually you get SIX references while the church only gives two. These refs are prob enough to give you an idea of how the pastor works.

h. The Pastor is juggling a lot. You may be calling when a congregation member died, the pastor may be waiting to hear back from a neutral pulpit, or perhaps he/she has been out sick. Chances are if the pastor is asking for a little time its because they are taking care of their current call (yay! You want a pastor who is maintaining a good working relationship with their current call). Ask twice if you need to and remember that you and the pastor are working in different time-space-realities. i.e. its like you are in 2 different dimensions. Try not to feel blown off if the pastor gets bogged down, maybe that’s just a hint from God about how the process is going and it probably isn’t personal.

i. A good indicator as to whether the interview went well is if it goes beyond the paper MIF and PIF info exchanges and starts to examine theology (i.e. where is Jesus, God, Holy Spirit at work in the church and in the pastor and do those things match)

j. Be honest. Talk about those skeletons, the rough spots, the imperfections. I fully believe that God calls pastors to churches where they can help each other in their imperfections, there is no such thing as a perfect pastor or a perfect church. There is such a thing as a loving pastor and a loving church.

k. The first visit is a conversation, and part of that conversation is showing how you will be taking care of the pastor. These and other interactions will help to “set the tone” of your relationship with one another. Try to be thoughtful if family cannot come, weekends are hard to come by (pastors are usually using their vacations to come out and see you), or if the pastor has pets for the manse, is not planning on buying a house right away or some other life piece that actually has less to do with how they are as a minister and more to do with their personal life situation. Tip: Try to leave some down time for the pastor to get out on their own, and to process and pray about the visit. Its very kind to tell the candidate how many people have reached this point and when you hope to decide.  

 

Exceptional Ideas: Big Church with lots of energy? Consider hiring a young/fresh pastor who has lots of ideas? Fulltime Solo Pastorate? Consider hiring a woman (most women only get part time ministry jobs) Got a favorite ministry? Send the links to the candidate, Want young families? Consider a single pastor with more time or a more experienced, older pastor. Hiring an Associate Pastor? Consider hiring a competent CoPastor instead. God calls different people to extraordinary roles we don’t expect. Moses was shocked to be a leader, Samuel, Daniel and Joseph, all of these people were put into ministries that “weren’t usual” for the time.

 

Also, pray for each candidate, pray that they find God’s call wherever it is. We the pastors REALLY appreciate it!

 

 

REEEEEEEEEE-form

Alright, after reading a disturbing post about the Board of Pensions (disturbing because not 6months ago the board of pensions came to Albany, NY and personally guaranteed us our pensions were fine) I am beginning to understand the rising healthcare cost for pastors with children (from %35 to %65). Seeing as I have three Preschoolers–this is a worry (read more about this¬†http://www.christiancentury.org/blogs/archive/2012-11/changes-pcusa-dues-structurenbsp)

Then there is the whole CIF/PIF thing, I recently came from a discussion where a church bypassed the formal process and are looking to hire a Baptist minister who holds some ministerial exp and an Associates degree…

Then there’s Sandy (enough said)

And a relative of one of my Pakistani congregants just learned her missional job is going to be cut off and she is going to be sent back to Pakistan, oh and by the way she’s a Christian Minister so guess what there is a death threat against her! The following pretty much sums up her statusImage

Can I just let out a general ARGH?

Here’s what I think

1. Restart, Rethink, Reform

We as a church are failing to reform fast enough. We are failing to connect to my generation, and we are failing to help those who need it

Here’s what we should do

a. Help students with their Loans: the pastors, the congregants, the children of members, complete strangers. If Jesus preaches FORGIVENESS of DEBTS (yes, I went all caps on you) we need to do it.

b. Educate, Educate, Educate: If our way of doing theology (in the Presbyterian and most Protestant churches) then College loans are not only up our alley, but education is too. How can we do more? What classes can we offer the community? What knowledge do we have that we can share? And we should be doing it for free (Take that for ministry)

c. CIF and PIFs are TOO SLOW. They suck the life out of the Pastor Nominating Committee–they are great visioning process but they are a lot of work, annoying and the potential pastor is stuck in a passive role (the pastor gets to be the girl HOPING the boy will as her out to the dance, very empowering for the congregation, not great shakes for the pastor). Plus this is not the only church who tried to skip the process, mine did right before me, and I bet every Presbytery has a recent case of this (let me know if you have) this is a symptom of the problem.

d. Co-Pastor all the way. Jesus sent out all of his ministers in pairs, and yet we have this weird-thing-we-call-normal the solo pastorate. Here’s the deal. Give both pastor’s 20hrs (assuming its a fulltime positiong) give both pastors healthcare coverage (yes, I know its a cost, but we should be creative and find ways to do it) and relieve the burden and loneliness of pastors. Plus we cut our unemployed number in half—I think there are something like 300 jobs for the 1000 pastors in search of a position. Not cool.

e. Plant, develop, etc. Ok so 10,001 worship communities was launched but the website has ALMOST NOTHING ON IT (Sorry this seems to be another Cap-worthy remark). What are we doing about that? Do people outside GA know about this? How about people outside the Presbyterian church? Are there grants? THis seems to be a potential risk-taking and exciting venture with almost nothing behind it. (Who is the point person for this anyway?)

f. Be Kid-Friendly for reals. Where are the children in all of this? Do you relegate them to the youth group, do they leave service, are they cutely put up in the beginning of service? We need children, but we need them to propagate what we have. What do children today need? How can we serve that? How can we value children for who they are now instead of who they will become (ps most of this is from the Christian Ed dept at PTS ie Osmer, Dean, Cady and Douglass).

g. Screw pensions. Ok, not for those who have been planning for them and are over the age of 40, but if they aren’t working maybe we should (and I mean we as the United States and the PCUSA as well) own up to the fact that they aren’t going to work anymore instead of cutting healthcare to promise money that we can no longer promise. If my choice is healthcare for my 3 boys now or pensions later, I’m choosing now, because I have got to take care of my children first. Pensions are secondary.

OR screw healthcare–maybe Obamacare is the way to go, I’m not sure, but we need to respond to somethings

h. and as for Sandy and Pakistan, here are all of these very personal/internal things I have to deal with and there are the two clear missional things that I should be dealing with, and I barely have the time and energy to keep up with my life, my revolving door, my neverending debt, my generational difference with 90% of PCUSA and the mainline church in general to do the work that comes at these very important times of crises.

We need to Reform. I was hoping GA would talk about the young, homosexuality, pensions, hiring rates, CIFs and PIFs, children and the church, social media etc. in some way that felt like a forward motion–I am still unsure as to whether or not any progress was actually made

The call is out there, the new generation is working hard–help us along…( for more info on the generational divide read¬†here.)

please