Research

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Congregations are called to attest to the transformative power of God’s love, both within the walls of the church and in the larger local context. They are best able to pursue this mission when conflict remains at a low level. Two of the primary sources of congregational conflict – minister/ministry setting mismatches and rocky starts in new pastorates – have roots in the search and call process.

And yet, in congregations that call their own clergy, the enthusiastic, faithful, and capable people who comprise the search committee often receive little guidance on how to design and conduct the search process. Their good work can be derailed by any number of potential hiccups, usually rooted in the combination of high anxiety and lack of training about the peculiarities of calling a minister. With the help of generous funding from the Louisville Institute, I am studying search committee best practices, resources currently available to search committees, and gaps in materials, training, and support. I then intend to develop an easily-customizable approach to search committee work that draws primarily on the fields of coaching, spiritual direction, and human resources. My hope is that this approach will invite the Holy Spirit into every stage of the process, avoid common pitfalls, and model healthy leadership for the congregation while being nimble enough to be applicable across denominational lines. It will be available online at no charge in summer 2017.

For regular updates leading up to the launch of this framework, follow Searching for the Called on Facebook. I believe that together we can better resource search committees for their essential work, with positive ripple effects throughout congregations, communities, and denominations.