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On the call process… Part 1

21July2011

Over the course of the next weeks, Thursdays will be devoted to the calling of a pastor.  Authors are supposed to write about the things they know, and since I have just ended the call process, it makes sense to blog about it.  On top of that, I expect that even if no one else gets anything out of it, it will be good therapy for me.  Note: I do hope to draw back the curtain a bit and let the average Joe or Jane know what the call process looks like and is about, especially from the pastor’s perspective.

The Background:  I recently submitted my resignation to the congregations I serve in rural/small-town Ohio which is often the end of a call process; the pastor resigns one call (or two, in my case) because s/he is taking a call to serve another congregation(s).

I dipped my toe in the ELCA call waters in November of ’09.  I let the Assistant to the Bishop know I was considering looking and was given what is called a Ministry Site Profile; it is a self-made report of a congregation.  After prayer, I didn’t go any farther after perusing the paperwork, because it didn’t seem like a good fit.

In November of ’10, I started again.  The month was the same – it isn’t coincidental.  Ever since I arrived in my current, and almost-ended, call, I was told, “Pastor, we have about 6 to 18 months before all the money runs out and we have to close the doors”.  As a newly minted, pipeline (which means I went straight from college to seminary) pastor, I don’t have training for other jobs, so the prospect of 6 to 18 months and then POOF, it’s done, was frightening.

I note that God provided throughout the process; when my call ends on July 31st I will have served for 61 months.  Yet even knowing that things had managed to work out (even if that meant adding a second congregation to my call), I couldn’t go yet another fall of being told that the budget is facing a five-figure deficit and the money will run out.

Additionally, as I was growing up as a pastor and discovering my strengths and “areas of growth”, I found that my skill-set was no longer a good match for what my congregations needed.  The money issue plus my growth started things, really allowed me to open myself up to the possibility that God might be leading elsewhere.

For your consideration:  If you are a pastor and have served multiple calls, what provided you the “oomph” to engage in the call process?  If you are a pastor and have only served one place, have you considered where/what/who your “oomphs” might be?  If you are a layperson, when do you think it is time for a pastor to engage in the call process?

For next time:  interviews, contacts, and the ELCA call process

KMF@CCD

Postscript:  As soon as I was committed fully to the call process, the larger of the two congregations, the one which first called me as pastor, started to run in the black.  God and that sense of humor…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 25August2011 16:09

    For me, the assurance that it was time to leave the call was when things turned quite dysfunctional very fast. Prior to that, I had sometimes longed to move on, but had felt a sense of Christian duty to my congregations. I knew it wasn’t easy but wanted to give them a real chance with a leader willing to stick around. But when denominational politics and local dysfunction converged, God made it clear that there wasn’t really a choice in the matter. For my good and the good of the congregations, it was time to move on. I often wonder what it would look like to have a “good end” instead of a painful one like this.

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  1. On the call process… Part 2 « Castle Church Door

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