SECTION 6 Pastoral Candidates and the Call List


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SECTION 6
Pastoral Candidates and the Call List
Sources of Names for Potential Candidates There are three primary sources of names of pastors for consideration by the Office of Bishop as the bishop prepares a call list for the congregation:
• From within the congregation: These names are submitted by members to the call committee and the call committee will forward the compiled list to the Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership, along with the completed Congregational Ministry Site Profile.
• From the active mobility listings: Pastors from across the church who are interested in a new call have uploaded their Rostered Leader Profile (RLP) onto the ELCA database. Bishops and their assistants have access to this internal database.
• From personal knowledge: The Office of the Bishop has personal knowledge of pastors whose gifts may be a good match for a particular congregation even though these pastors have not indicated interest in mobility. The bishop may contact such persons.
• From interested pastors within our synod: Pastors may self-nominate.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has established specific procedures for contacting pastoral candidates for placement on call lists of congregations. It is the responsibility of the Office of the Bishop to make such contacts and it is improper for congregations to contact pastors directly, or for pastors to contact congregations directly about call possibilities.
Developing the Call List Upon receiving the completed Congregational Ministry Site Profile, the Office of the Bishop
begins a discernment process to determine the best candidates to be placed upon the call list of the congregation. The bishop and others in the Office of the Bishop prayerfully work to match the desires and needs of the congregation with the best pastoral candidates. It is a great joy to witness the working of the Holy Spirit through the call process bringing together the new pastor and congregation.
Using the Congregational Ministry Site Profile as a primary guide, the Office of the Bishop gives careful consideration of the pastoral leadership needs of the congregation. A list of potential and qualified candidates is formulated. From this list, the candidates that best match the needs of the congregation are identified and the Office of the Bishop begins the process of contacting potential candidates. Usually three candidates are identified for contact by the Office of the Bishop, although special circumstances and availability sometimes leads to a call list with only one or two names.
With the permission of the bishops of the synods where the pastors are presently serving, the Office of the Bishop contacts the potential candidates. If they express interest in considering this particular call, a copy of the Congregational Ministry Site Profile is sent to them for review. After reviewing the profile, the candidates inform the Office of the Bishop of their desire to be placed on the call list. Sometimes candidates request up to a week to review the mission profile, discuss the possibility
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of a move with their families and seek God’s guidance in the decision to have their names placed on the call list.
If a candidate declines to have his/her name placed on the call list, the Office of the Bishop seeks the next best candidate to be added to the call list. This process takes many weeks and is delayed when candidates withdraw from consideration. There are personal and professional reasons why a candidate may decide not to be considered for a particular call situation. The Office of the Bishop can at times share the reasons why a candidate is not available for consideration; at other times, confidentiality may preclude such sharing.
Pastoral candidates are able to be on multiple call lists, including those in other synods, until they reach the point of being the primary candidate for a congregation. At this point they must withdraw from all other call lists.
When Members and Friends Lift Up Names of Potential Pastoral Candidates It is not unusual for members or friends within the congregation to want to make a suggestion of a
pastor whom they feel might make a good pastoral candidate. The call committee should share in an announcement or article to the congregation the following guidelines for making suggestions of potential candidates:
• All suggestions of names of pastors will be retained by the call committee and given to the bishop for consideration at the same time that the completed Congregational Ministry Site Profile is given to the bishop.
• In addition to the name of the pastor, it is helpful to provide the pastor’s current congregation or address, if known, and a brief comment about why this pastor is being recommended for consideration.
• Absolutely NO CONTACT of pastors regarding their possible interest in the position should be made by members of the call committee, council or congregation. The bishop will give prayerful consideration to all pastoral candidates suggested by the congregation as well as other potential pastoral candidates.
• It is the responsibility of the bishop and the assistants to the bishop to prayerfully form a call list usually consisting of the names of three pastors.
• ONLY those candidates whose names are placed on the Call List will be contacted by the Call Committee.
Self-Nomination by Pastors of the Synod Pastors of the Florida-Bahamas Synod are always welcomed to express to the Bishop, in
confidence, their interest in being considered for a call list of a particular congregation. From all sources of names of potential candidates, including those who have expressed interest, the Bishop develops the call list as described above to be presented to the congregation.
A pastor of this synod, who was not placed upon the official call list by the Bishop, may request to self-nominate him/herself to the congregation. If the self-nominated candidate is not placed on the official call list developed by the bishop, that candidate’s name will be delivered to the call committee by
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the bishop’s office in addition to the official call list. The call committee is not obligated to interview such a candidate but is welcome to do so.
The call committee will review the Rostered Leader Profile of the self-nominated candidate and either 1) add the candidate’s name to the call list or 2) release the candidate. The chair of the call committee will notify the Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership of their decision.
First Call Candidates Sometimes the Office of the Bishop will approach a congregation about considering a first call
candidate (a recent graduate from seminary who is not yet ordained). The congregation council will be asked to give approval to the call committee and the Office of the Bishop to proceed in such a direction. The call committee will then receive the name of the first call candidate as a single name call list for interview and decision to recommend or not recommend the candidate to the council.
Should the congregation vote to call a first call candidate, an ordination service involving the bishop is needed in addition to an installation service. The ordination service is usually planned by the person being ordained and the Office of the Bishop, and is sometimes held in a location apart from the calling congregation. In such a situation, an installation service will be planned at the congregation sometime after the candidate’s ordination. At other times, the ordination service and the installation service will be combined into one service.
Filling Rostered Positions in a Multi-Staff Situation If there is more than one pastoral vacancy in a congregation, the senior pastor position will be filled
first. The call committee’s work focuses upon the leadership gifts needed in this position. Sometime after the new senior pastor has arrived and begun his/her ministry, the congregation, with the involvement of the senior pastor, and the Office of the Bishop may determine to initiate the process of calling an additional pastor. The council develops clear position descriptions for each rostered leader. It is understood that the senior pastor will serve as the head and supervisor of the ministry team. A new call committee is appointed for the calling of a second rostered person, and the senior pastor will serve on this call committee.
An exception to this policy is when there is the possibility of calling a clergy couple to serve as copastors of the congregation. In such situations, the Office of the Bishop approaches the congregation to determine their interest in calling a clergy couple and how responsibilities will be shared.
It is recommended that those on the pastoral staff, and possibly the entire staff, participate in a team ministry retreat or workshop once all members of the pastoral staff are in place.
Calling an Associate or Assistant Pastor The process for calling an associate or assistant pastor follows the same procedures as the calling of a
senior pastor except that the senior pastor is involved both in the process as a member of the call committee and in consultation with the Office of the Bishop regarding potential candidates.
The policy of the Florida-Bahamas Synod is that those serving in the roles of associate or assistant pastors, regardless of particular title, will be co-terminus with the senior pastor. Upon the resignation of the senior pastor, associate and assistant pastors will also submit their resignations to become effective no later than six months after the arrival of the new senior/lead pastor. The call documents will reflect this policy. The new senior pastor should be involved directly in building his/her new staff, which may or may not include additional pastors. The resource, Team Ministry Calls, is included at the end of this Section 6.
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Resource A
Team Ministry Calls
A Team Ministry is formed when more than one rostered person is called to serve within the same congregation or ministry setting. Team ministries work best when an environment is created in which respect, trust, cooperation and collegiality is encouraged. Team ministries may include multiple numbers of pastors and lay rostered leaders each called by the congregation for particular ministry. It is understood that the Senior/Lead Pastor is called to a position of greater responsibility for oversight and serves as the head of the staffing team.
Some important characteristics of healthy team ministries: • All team members understand that they are called by God to serve in their particular roles • Each team member prays for and respects the other team members • Clear position descriptions are developed describing the responsibilities and accountability of each
member of the team • Team members possess skills and gifts that complement one another
Call Processes
Senior/Lead Pastor: • If there is more than one pastoral vacancy within a congregation, the senior/lead pastor position will be filled first. • The regular call process is followed. • The senior/lead pastor will be in place when a team ministry is formed. An exception is when a clergy couple is called to serve the congregation as co-pastors.
Associate (Assistant) Pastor: • An associate (or assistant) pastor is understood to be fully a pastor of the congregation with a complete Word and Sacrament ministry even if that person is called to a position with specific program or ministry responsibilities. • The senior/lead pastor will serve on the call committee for an associate pastor. • Position descriptions for the senior/lead pastor and additional pastor(s) will be developed. • The position descriptions will be included in the Congregational Ministry Site Profile that is developed by the call committee. • When the congregation is asked to complete the Top 5 Ministry Tasks and Gifts survey, a copy of the associate pastor’s position description should be included in the mailing to assist them in determining what gifts and skills might be best needed by the associate pastor. • The calls of associate pastors will be coterminous with the call of the senior/lead pastor. The call document will reflect this policy of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. • When the call of the senior/lead pastor ends, associate pastors submit their resignations effective no later than six months after the arrival of the new senior/lead pastor. • The call documents should also state that associate pastors will not be available for the senior/lead pastor call should that position become open while the associate pastor is under call to this congregation. • In exceptional cases, for the sake of mission and in consultation with the Office of the Bishop, the new lead/senior pastor and the council may evaluate the pastoral staffing configuration in light of current ministry needs and determine if an invitation will be made for the staff pastor(s) to remain on staff.
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Associates in Ministry (AIMs), Deaconesses and Diaconal Ministers: • The senior/lead pastor will serve on the call committee for lay rostered leaders. • Position descriptions for the lay roster leader, the senior pastor and other rostered leaders of the congregation will be developed. • The position descriptions will be included in the Congregational Ministry Site Profile that is developed by the call committee. • When the congregation is asked to complete the Top 5 Ministry Tasks and Gifts survey, a copy of the lay rostered leader’s position description should be included in the mailing to assist them in determining what gifts and skills might be best needed by the associate in ministry. • The calls of lay rostered leaders will be coterminous with the call of the senior/lead pastor. The call document will reflect this policy of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. • When the call of the senior/lead pastor ends, lay rostered leaders submit their resignations effective no later than six months after the arrival of the new senior/lead pastor. • In exceptional cases, for the sake of mission and in consultation with the Office of the Bishop, the new lead/senior pastor and the council may evaluate the pastoral staffing configuration in light of current ministry needs and determine if an invitation will be made for the lay rostered leader(s) to remain on staff.
The Call Documents The Letter of Call: The Letter of Call should be completed neatly, possibly using the services of a calligrapher or typist. Many rostered leaders like to frame this official call document. Copies of the call documents serve as reference and historical documents.
• On the front page of the Letter of Call, the team position should be included in the blank following the words, “extends to you this call to serve as”.
• For a senior /lead pastor, write the words, “Senior Pastor” or “Lead Pastor”.
• For an associate pastor, write the words, “Associate Pastor” or “Assistant Pastor” followed by the words, “Coterminous Call with call of Senior Pastor”.
• For lay rostered leaders, write the words, “Associates in Ministry,” “Deaconess,” or “Associate in Ministry,” as appropriate, followed by the words, “Coterminous Call with call of Senior Pastor”.
Definition of Compensation and Benefits: On the second page of the Definition of Compensation and Benefits form, under the section titled “F. OTHER MATTERS”:
• The following line should be included on a call of an associate pastor: “Calls of staff pastors are coterminous with the ending of the call of the senior/lead pastor and staff pastors will not be available for the lead pastor call. See attached document on Team Ministry Calls for additional details.”
• The following line should be included on a call of a lay rostered leader: “Calls of lay rostered leaders are coterminous with the ending of the call of the senior/lead pastor. See attached document on Team Ministry Calls for additional details.”
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SECTION 7
The Interview Process
Receiving the Call List A representative of the Office of the bishop will arrange a meeting with the call committee to
personally deliver the names and RLP of the pastors on the call list, and review the interview process as well as the interview covenant (Resource A). The call committee will want to carefully read the information received about the potential candidates. Each candidate should be treated equally and fairly regardless of first impressions received from printed materials. The face-to-face interview can impact the committee’s perception of a candidate.
Upon receiving the call list, the call committee members should reaffirm their commitment to confidentiality. The names and information about the candidates are NOT to be shared with spouse/partner, family, council members, or anyone else outside of the call committee. The committee also determines what might be included in the interview process beyond the personal interview itself. This might include visits by a team from the call committee to the present churches of candidates to hear them preach. (Arrangements can be made through the Office of the Bishop to hear a candidate preach who is not presently serving in a congregation.)
Setting Up the Interview Dates and Process Within two days of receiving the call list, the call committee makes a telephone call to each
candidate to invite the candidate for the interview. The date, place, and anticipated length of the interview are worked out with each candidate. It should be noted that telephone interviews are strongly discouraged since that is a most difficult means of developing a relationship and fully learning about another person.
It is helpful to remember that the pastoral candidates are also in a discernment process and during the interview experience, they are carefully listening to the members of the call committee to learn more about the congregation and its mission.
When agreement to interview has been received from the candidate(s), the contact person for the call committee should indicate that a letter with details will follow and ask each candidate for his/her preferred mailing address and/or email contact information.
Confirming the Interview and Arrangements A letter, or email, which promptly follows the phone conversation inviting a candidate to
interview, confirms the place, time and expected length of the interview. It is recommended that the first interview be with the pastor candidate only. If the pastor desires
to bring along his/her spouse/partner, the congregation is not under obligation to pay for their travel expenses, but may offer to do so if finances will permit.
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[NOTE: After a candidate is identified as the Primary Candidate, it is encouraged that the spouse/partner accompany the candidate for the interview with the congregation council. During that visit, there is usually opportunity to meet many other members of the congregation.]
The confirmation letter should contain information about who will meet the pastor at the airport, if the pastor is flying, or travel directions to the place of lodging. If the candidate is being asked to lead a devotional at the start of the interview, the letter should indicate this with clarity about expectations regarding length and format.
The letter should also affirm the congregation’s commitment to provide reimbursement for all expenses related to the pastor’s coming for the interview. Prompt reimbursement should be made to the candidate following the interview.
Interview packets may be prepared and sent to each candidate prior to the interview. The packet could include items not included in the Ministry Site Profile such as a listing of the names of all the call committee members, a recent annual report, a congregational directory, worship bulletins, newsletters, a listing of staff and congregation council members, and the congregation’s constitution and bylaws. The Chamber of Commerce may have a welcome packet with community information that might be shared as well.
Hosting the Candidates
One or two members of the call committee should be designated to serve as host(s) for the candidates. This often is the chair of the call committee and one additional person. The hosts will meet and welcome each of the candidates to town and share the general itinerary of their time together.
If overnight accommodations are needed for any of the candidates, arrangements at a motel should be made by the call committee with the room charge pre-paid by the congregation. Because of boundary and privacy concerns, pastor candidates should NOT be invited to stay in the homes of call committee members. The hosts will assist each candidate with check-in and clarify pick-up times. The candidate is escorted to the place of the dinner, the site of the interview, and then back to the place of lodging.
The hosts may also arrange for each candidate to have opportunity to tour the church facilities at times when it would be unlikely that staff or other congregational members would be present. Pastoral candidates are very interested in seeing the worship space, offices and facilities.
It is helpful for the committee to arrange for a tour of the greater community pointing out schools and places of interest. If the candidate(s) does not drive a personal car to the interview, it is a wonderful gesture to provide the candidates with the use of a car for personal touring of the area as time is available.
An informal dinner for the candidate and members of the committee prior to the interview serves the good purpose of helping to establish relationships and engage in informal conversation about families and communities.
The same hosts or perhaps two others from the call committee may be designated to meet the candidates the following morning for breakfast and transportation to the airport, or to provide a closure to the interview if the candidate is driving his or her own car.
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A Practice Interview
The call committee may wish to do a “practice interview” using the interim pastor, a representative of the Office of the Bishop, or a neighboring pastor as the person being interviewed. A practice interview helps the committee to review its plan, sharpen the questions the committee desires to ask, and receive feedback about the experience from the one being interviewed in the practice interview.
The practice interview should be conducted as if it were a real interview with preparation done in advance. Plan ahead who will ask which question and what materials the committee will use to evaluate and assess the candidates. It is helpful to loan the pastor assisting in this practice interview a copy of the Congregational Ministry Site Profile in advance of the interview so he/she can also ask some fitting questions of the call committee. It is appropriate that an honorarium be given to the pastor equal to the amount paid to a supply pastor on a Sunday morning (the council should be able to provide information on this amount).
The Interview Site
Since it is desirable to interview each candidate in a similar fashion, it is recommended that all the interviews be held at the same location. A comfortable and informal atmosphere is preferred. The home of one of the call committee’s members may be able to accommodate the candidate and all the members of the call committee for the interviews. If a home is not available, then consider a comfortable room at a nearby facility or the church. Refreshments should be served.
For each of the interviews, arrangements should be made with the candidate for transportation from the place of lodging to the place of interview. If the interview must be conducted at the church because of space, the call committee needs to assure that privacy and confidentiality are maintained. During the interview stage, it is not appropriate to introduce the candidates to other members of the church or to staff persons.
(NOTE: When a primary candidate has been recommended to the council, the council will introduce that candidate to congregational members and to the church staff if the council has voted to recommend the candidate to the congregation.)
Planning the Interview
The call committee will want to keep in mind its critical task of discerning God’s will for the congregation and its pastoral leadership. The committee should consider important questions that they desire to ask each candidate, keeping in mind the leadership priorities and needs identified in the mission profile. Determine in advance who will ask which questions.
This helps to provide consistency and clear opportunities for comparisons of responses by the candidates. Sample questions are provided in a resource entitled Questions a Call Committee May Ask found at the end of this section. Consider some questions that will give insight into the candidate’s faith and sense of calling.
Good questions will solicit valuable information about a candidate’s past experiences, behaviors and ministry endeavors that might suggest what the candidate is likely to do again.
Questions that require only yes or no answers should be avoided. Asking follow up questions will help a candidate clarify answers. This also demonstrates that the committee is truly interested and seeking to understand what the candidate is saying.
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When planning the interview, the committee should allow adequate time for the pastoral candidate to ask his/her own questions about the ministry of the church. This is a mutual interview process.
It is extremely important for the effective functioning of the call committee and in fairness to each candidate that all call committee members be present at each interview. For the interviews, members of the call committee should wear clothing similar to what is worn at Sunday morning worship. It is recommended that call committee members also wear name tags to assist the candidates. The length of time to be given to the whole interview should be determined in advance, announced at the start of the interview, and monitored by the chair.
Conducting the Interview
After gathering with refreshments and making informal introductions, the chair or the one designated to lead the interviews gathers the call committee and candidate together in a circle of chairs. If the candidate has been asked to lead devotions, the chair invites the candidate to do so. Otherwise, a member of the committee leads an opening devotional.
Each member of the call committee may share briefly some personal information about family, career and involvement within the congregation. The chair may ask the candidate to share “something about yourself” to provide opportunity for personal introduction.
The chair then reviews the plan for the interview including the general time parameters and shares with the candidate that his/her questions will also be welcomed throughout the interview. It is a courtesy to indicate to the candidate that members of the committee may be taking notes to assist with recalling comments after the interview.
The committee now asks the questions prepared in advance of the interview and listens carefully to the responses, asking for clarifications as needed. The chair helps to move the group along in a timely fashion. When the formal questions are completed, the chair invites the candidate to ask any questions that might be helpful to the candidate. A listing of questions, Questions Candidates May Ask, is included in the resources at the end of this section.
In concluding the interview, the chair may invite any additional questions or comments that anyone might like to share. The candidate is thanked for coming and participating in the interview. The chair indicates that the candidate may contact the chair should any additional questions or concerns arise in the days following the interview. The time together is closed with prayer. The hosts escort the candidate back to the place of lodging.
Reflections on the Interview It is often desirable to schedule brief meetings of the call committee following each interview,
especially if there is extended time between interviews. Members of the call committee can share their impressions and responses to the interview while the candidate’s responses are still fresh in the minds of the members. Behavioral observations, highlights and concerns are also shared and recorded for later reference following the completion of all interviews. Further discussion and decisions about seeing the candidates lead worship and preach may be beneficial at this point.
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SECTION 6 Pastoral Candidates and the Call List