Pastor Search Committees, Pastors
Search Committees, How the CRCNA Can Help You Find Your Next Pastor
September 20, 2020
0 comments 1542 views Posted by Pastor Church Resources
The Way It Was
For many years, a group of denominational staff met monthly to review open church positions and to recommend to search committees the names of possible candidates. Their list was made up of a combination of computer-generated “matches” supplemented by the group’s own knowledge of pastors and churches. While this process occasionally worked to find a match, over time it became clear the process had flaws.
Our denomination is increasingly diverse. The old networks of who-knows-whom were established back when most CRC pastors attended Calvin Theological Seminary or came from a small number of Christian colleges and universities. Increasingly, eligible CRC pastors come from all kinds of backgrounds and are not necessarily well-connected to many other CRC pastors or churches.
There is no list anymore. There is a perception that the CRCNA maintains a list of actively-searching pastors. We do not. While we used to gather anecdotal information about who might be looking for a call, we increasingly found that our anecdotal information was much too limited to be helpful. The truth was (and is) even the most well-connected person cannot know every pastor who is considering a call.
Even if we had a list of names, your future pastor may not be on it. Many pastors, if pressed, would struggle to know whether to say they were “looking for a call.” It is tempting to think that all pastors exist in one of two states: they are either “looking for a call” or “not open to a call.” The truth is that many pastors are somewhere in the middle. Some who say they are “not open to a call” mean to say that they are quite settled and engaged in their present ministry. But for some of them, it is also true that if the right opportunity came along, they would be willing to open the door of discernment a little wider.
For these reasons and more, denominational staff no longer provide lists of available or interested candidates.
The Way It Is
Pastor searches in the CRCNA are now supported by the denomination in three primary ways.
The Network. Since PastorSearch cannot do a search for you, the denomination offers another tool to support search committees. The Network is a denominationally-supported website which, in addition to providing a trove of helpful ministry content and resources, has a kind of classifieds section. Having a clear, compelling and regularly-updated post on The Network’s Church Positions page may be the single most important tool your committee has for finding your next pastor. A good post should include contact information for your search team, a link to your website, a pdf of your church profile and a position description. Virtually every pastor looking for a call to a Christian Reformed Church will be looking at the Church Positions page of The Network. Virtually every Christian Reformed Church looking for a pastor is posting their position there.
A Clear Network Post Saves Time and Energy
A good post that transparently reflects your context is one of the few shortcuts we recommend in a pastor search process. Going fast in a search process is usually not a good idea. Transitions between pastors create all kinds of unexpected opportunities for churches: helping them understand themselves apart from their former pastor’s identity, helping new and gifted leaders rise to the surface, helping them learn a new dependence on God and each other. These opportunities are limited when a church rushes to replace the former pastor.
Nevertheless, one way to helpfully speed up your process is to be clear at the outset about your church and the position you are seeking to fill (both the bad and the good!). The clearer you can be, the more likely you will be to receive applications from pastors who are actually interested in serving your community in that position. An ambiguous but enticing listing may solicit many applicants, but, of course, your church doesn’t need many applicants, it needs the right applicants! Better to have one well-suited candidate than ten poorly-suited ones!
To learn more about pastor searches in the CRCNA, check out More Than a Search Committee or contact Pastor Church Resources.
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