Last January I began devoting 5-10 hours per week to a labor of love: better resourcing ministerial search teams to do their essential work. In some ways, I can’t believe it’s only been a year. The marbles have been rolling around in my noggin for a while. In other ways, I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, and I have been having a blast with this project.
Thanks to insights from people I surveyed and interviewed, authors I read, and the Holy Spirit, the focus for this approach to search team work began to gel in the late spring and early summer. What would it look like for congregations not just to be blessed by the results of ministerial searches, but also for the search teams to be blessings to candidates, and by extension, to all the people and institutions those candidates influence? By arranging search processes around practices of hospitality, both aims can be met, resulting in a two-way infusion of health.
I expanded here on what hospitality could look like from an aerial view toward all the parties involved in a search (and note that there are more than two parties!). I have spent the last several months trying to bring the concepts down to ground level. Here’s what you can expect from the completed(ish) approach, which will cover closure with the exiting minister through helping the new minister get off to a fast start:
Applications that can layer over the process outlined by your judicatory, if there is one. This approach is not meant to enhance, not take the place of, the work prescribed/recommended to congregations.
A few non-negotiables. If your search team adopts this approach, there are certain steps that are essential to success, such as trust-building among all the parties, discernment practices, and good communication.
A lot of coaching questions. Every church, every search team must tailor this approach to its particular context. These questions prompt discussion to guide this customization.
Not just whats and hows, but also whys. Stages of the process and essential tasks all come with notes about their importance.
Lots of tools. I will link to pre-existing resources to aid search teams in their work or offer new ones where there are gaps.
Insights from the flip side. Often search teams don’t know what their candidates are experiencing on the other end of the line. Getting a peek into candidates’ hearts and brains will enable search teams to interact with them more hospitably.
Assessments. Is your search team ready for the next stage? Find out by answering a few yes or no questions.
There will be lots of other elements, but hopefully this gives you a taste.
I will launch a website in late June/early July with the completed(ish) approach, and I will offer free webinars about the content in the months following. I’ll also be available for search team coaching and 1-2 day search team retreats.
Stay tuned for more news, including the announcement of a Facebook page that will give regular updates and link to search-related resources.