December 15, 2023

The Transition Process // Phase 5 / Part 2 – Coaching a Search Process

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Finding the right pastor is a Big Deal! We’ve developed a tried and true method of conducting an effective Search Process which an STM can facilitate. In this video you will learn about the importance of 1) team makeup, 2) team interactions and 3) knowing what classical processes are required.

Join Tom Grabill of the Luminex Group as he walks us through Phase 5 -part 2 of his insightful series, The Transition Process.

Healthy interactions and function on a team is vitally important. Also anytime diversity increases, the likelihood of conflict also arises.  Many teams start with passion and great intentions but they flounder because they fail to resolve disagreements, harbor hurt feelings, promote personal references and fail to fully commit themselves.  But experienced specialized transition ministries take time to build highly effective teams at the start and work with the team chair to navigate these issues as they come up so as to keep the team on task and doing effective work.

Depending on whether the church is connected to a larger system such as a denomination or an alliance, there are often formal steps that regulate the process. Especially once a final candidate is identified, search chairpersons need to be aware of these processes. Unless a specialized transition Minister becomes the essential voice in helping make sure all is done properly and in good order. The collection of essential information to run an effective search means the team needs access to a job description, important church policies and identity statements.  Many long tenured pastors no longer have a relevant job description as they have likely taken on new responsibilities over the years as Ministry has grown. Leadership boards often begin from scratch trying to assemble a snapshot of what will be expected from a new pastor. The more clear and intentional the description, the greater the appeal to a pastor who will make a good fit.

Inviting the congregation to share input helps to guide the work of the board while also building trust among the congregants.  The strategic planning work that the specialized transition Minister facilitated during phase four provides the priorities that will make up the job description and allow for healthy alignment of congregational input.

People in general want a pastor that will make them comfortable, preach good sermons, take care of their needs with an engaging personality.  The board must synthesize these desires with Visionary statements in a way that keeps everyone excited and moving in the same direction.  Some church policies will necessarily guide the selection of a candidate as well these policies may pertain to how sacraments are performed, who can become a member, and what constitute marriage. Tthese questions need to be asked in the interviews or they will be asked in the congregational meeting and that would be too late.

If there are important discussions that have not already been had, the specialized transition Minister can and will make sure they are conducted in good process so as to minimize casualties and maximize agreement.  Promoting the position while the leadership is assembling the important documents that will assist the search process, the search team will be drafting an attractive and catalytic description of the church.  This profile will include highlights from its history, its current identity structure and practices an accurate and compelling description of the community around the church highlighting things candidates might be attracted to and how they can submit an application package.

Teams will want to promote the position as widely as possible while being selective enough to narrow the candidate pool to certain essential qualities. Churches that promote too broadly end up sorting through candidates from all over the world with various religious, denominational and educational backgrounds that would not make them a good fit.

Not only would the specialized transition Minister know the best search engines to post on, but they will also have less formal networks they can communicate with to help narrow the pool to a few really strong candidates. Communication is one of the most important and sadly overlooked functions of the search team. So is communicating out to the board and to the congregation timely updates to keep them informed and anxiety low.

The search team is working hard engaging in a meaningful process and often fail to appreciate that the church is out of the loop of all that is going on. So by offering regular search team updates in leadership meetings and worship services, it can help the church relax knowing that the search process is moving along in a timely and realistic manner and they can join in the excitement, pray for specific steps in the process and begin to dream of a new leader emerging soon.

When the candidate is announced to the church, if they have been regularly kept informed, they will be more likely to support the team’s decision and be open to what they have to offer.  I might further offer the disclaimer that the candidate pool is shrinking due to increased pastoral burnout and a significant pastoral exodus.  By having a trained and experienced leader working alongside the search team it will greatly enhance the likelihood of finding a good fit in a timely way.

Thank you for tuning in to these installments of White Board Monthly on Church Transitions.

Remember it’s it’s never too early to begin to prepare for the inevitable. Let’s begin the conversation by giving me a shout.

Thanks for tuning in. I hope this has helped you to get a good picture of what Transition Ministry is about and I look for forward to hearing from you soon.

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