March 10th, 2012
Several people have asked me what the “process” is for moving to a new church in our denomination. Fortunately, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) allows its pastors to have total control over where they serve. (Okay, technically, God has total control over where they serve but you know what I mean.) There’s no centralized authority or administration that makes those decisions — it’s between a pastor and his flock how long their relationship lasts.
When it’s time to move on, a pastor fills out a profile that outlines what he’s looking for in a congregation — in terms of size, geography, etc. — as well as highlighting his strengths and gifts for ministry. He (for the purposes of this post since the pastor in question is my husband!) then selects what geographic regions he’d like to consider. The regions don’t quite correspond to states, but it’s close. Don’t want to move to Arkansas? Don’t add it to the list!
This profile is then sent to the regional ministers of the areas he’s selected and they in turn forward the paperwork on to congregations who are seeking pastors. The search teams of those congregations review the profiles (much like a resume) and determine which candidates they’d like to speak with further.
The congregation sends its “profile” to the pastor and if both parties are still interested, there’s usually a phone interview — or skype these days — followed by an in-person interview.
For the in-person interview, it’s usually just the pastor and his wife who travel and they only meet the search committee. If all goes well, the search committee recommends the pastor to the congregation’s Board of Directors. Once the Board approves the candidate, he usually comes down again for a fellowship event where he meets more of the congregation. Kids are invited along on this trip. Interestingly enough, it’s becoming less common for pastors to preach in front of their prospective congregation. Then the congregation votes to extend a call to the pastor.
Whew. This is why it takes multiple months to receive a new call!