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!

 

 

Anectdotal Woman (or) 24 churches and a feminist

There are lots of stories about women in the Bible. Not all of them have names, but its nice to experience the parable.

So I’m going to tell a parable about an unnamed woman. And then I’m going to tell a lot of anecdotes that are by no means scientific but start to bear out what a woman may feel in ministry…they certainly confirmed my own experience

An unnamed woman I know got referenced for a local solo pastor position (yay!). This was very cool for many, many reasons, the first and foremost reason being that this woman is currently serving as an interim and needs a new position. This church was liberal, and Southern (thereby making it even more liberal) so looking at a young woman pastor was a pretty cool move.

She got turned down for the job, and the person who got hired was…..a man.

I have nothing against men, I think they are awesome. However, women have outnumbered men in seminary for many years now, as of 2012 only 1/3rd of pastors were women. Yep, that’s right, the PW reported to General Assembly that fully a third of pastors were women.

I am a liberal person, the PIF process is a long one. Once upon a time (a while ago) I applied to 24 “really liberal” churches. They were the “cool” ones that were Presbyterian Light, Rainbow-Friendly and environmentally sound. They were changing the style of worship, being creative in mission and had worship committees who were involved in writing liturgy.And Open, they were really, really, really, really, really, really open to ALL types of everyone/thing peoples….

24 self-proclaimed really liberal churches.

Basically none of them even called me back for a phone interview (I think I’m not hipster/cool/lesbian enough for the cool churches…I more dynamic extroverted female pastor who still does traditional worship in normal clothing, so most churches are uncertain what to do with me)

So anyway, I was deciding when/if I should follow up with my self-referrals, and it was too cumbersome to do phone calls. Since these were the hip churches they all had fully functional websites (something that drew me to these places in the first place). So I simply looked at their newsletters<–which always proclaim when new pastors come.

I noticed a pattern. I didn’t mean to notice it. I didn’t want to notice it. But after the 4th and 5th church had it, there was no stopping it.

23 of the (self-proclaimed super liberal and open) churches had hired men……only 1 hired a woman. That’s the broad perspective

On a more personal level–I am convinced that I would be in a totally different place were I male….or a different kind of female….
Lets just say that when I do the intervieiwng thing, I bowl people over (and that’s not always a good thing)

They weren’t expecting…..me….

I think the word that is the problem is Pastor…..

“You saying its hard to picture me as a Pastor…pastor, pastor…..

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I don’t fit the word “pastor

into what I have found to be the three traditional roles for women ministers. Please note, I am naming these stereotypes as I see them perpetuated in culture. As I do not fit these, I also know many women for whom this stereotype falls short even if they fit it on the surface.

1. Those introverted, superfocused and reflective awesome chaplain types who can do pastoral care like no one else! Associate for pastoral care, go!

2. Those extroverted women who are loud & bombastic and obviously need to put their energy to use with the youth (preferably the younger children, leave the teens to an extroverted “very cool” male who has not yet realized his call to be the head pastor of a multi-staff church but will probably realize said call and be parachuted into said congregation once he catches up<–I’m trying not to be bitter about this pattern). Youth Associate Go!

3. The really creative and out there single mother/lesbian/crazy single lady who has short spiky hair (usually of some outlandish color), many piercings and tattoos. Amazing Solo Pastor who probably overworks for a half or three quarter time ministry, Go!

I guess I break the Mold

I am, in fact, a woman who unashamedly pursued a full time solo pastorate

and when people meet me….you know people who are looking for “the pastor”….
they don’t know what to do with me

Because I am a woman

an extroverted woman who is a great preacher, a good people person and who works really really hard at the ministry of listening and the ministry of presence….but otherwise is not shy, retiring and is not afraid to speak my opinion and to (kindly) tell the truth. In fact I rarely participate in the politicking that is usually associated with my gender.

Anecdote: I have been called many things, once I was called edgy for quoting the Book of Order, Another I was called unusual when I talked about serving the neighborhood. Some of this is part and parcel with the job, but I do think that I say things that people would expect um…..a man to say…..Specifically: I laugh a LOT in the pulpit. Every want ad for pastor I’ve ever seen wants a pastor “with a sense of humor,” but usually at some point I’m told that I laugh to much in the pulpit, because when a woman laughs, when I practice what I consider to be a spiritual practice of Good News, people assume I’m irresponsible. Laughter and Joy in a woman is assumed to be a point of flightiness (I am type A…..so I’m really wayyyyy on the other end of taking my responsibilities TOO seriously). I also have been called “young lady” whenever I tell a hard truth and speak to my authority, by multiple people.

I am a woman

A mother, who is not interested in being a children’s associate. I studied Christian Education to support the entire church’s learning and (fingers-crossed-maybe-someday) hopefully would be able to¬†partner with those who are already doing the Christian Education in my church. I am not planning on only being a youth minister, despite the fact that I do indeed have three children…

Anecdote: I have a space marked “pastor’s spot” at the parking lot, which isn’t really my thing (special honors, no thank you), but it actually saves a lot of time. I don’t look like a typical pastor, esp. when I have a couple of kids in tow. Sometimes I have to convince people I’m a pastor, usually I have to repeat it more than once, and I’ve even had to argue with people about it (usually I just turn it into a joke). The parking spot saves me a lot of explaining, you can tell they’ve had that internal argument so by the time they arrive they are able to say “So YOUR the pastor”

I am a woman

a girl-next-door-looking-woman (brown hair and glasses to-boot, oh and I look a LOT YOUNGER than I am) who is super creative about how I build partnerships and relationships, full of energy and life I am ready to spark the excitement within the church and yet somehow does not have a million tatoos and piercings.

Anecdote: When I was in seminary I got hired on to do ministry at a Korean American church, to this day I am convinced I got hired because Koreans are used to people holding their Asian/youthful look against them and instead looked at my VERY impressive resume which states that I (always have and probably always will) have experience beyond my years! Yay for Bethany Pres!

I am a woman, and the church hasn’t found a stereotype for me……..

I have a VERY successful ministry where I am, the church is doing great, I am proud of all I have accomplished, and I’m still me, but some days its hard to have to consistently explain that not only am I actually a Presbyterian Pastor…..but I’m actually the only Pastor that I know how to be….

I think I’ll just start handing out cards that say
“atypical pastor” do you think people would then get the message not to expect whatever it was they were expecting?

And, how can we train churches (and the outside world, who seems to be just as surprised) to expect those types of people we aren’t expecting….