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Essential tasks

  • Naming who the church has been and is. A congregation cannot discern what God is calling it to be and do without first examining its long-running patterns and its current gifts and challenges.
  • Discerning the church’s purpose within its context. Mission and location are closely tied, and listening for God’s call involves attending to the challenges and opportunities in the community.
  • Beginning to identify the leadership skills, qualities, and experience needed to help church live toward its mission. The competencies required in a pastoral leader grow out of the congregation’s God-given vision.

Reflection questions

  • How have our history and location shaped us?
  • What are our church’s lived values?
  • How is God at work in our neighborhood?
  • What is God’s dream for our congregation?
  • Given that dream, what skills do we need in a pastoral leader?

Best practices

  • Creating a safe, open environment for frank conversation
  • Encouraging the congregation to befriend its ghosts
  • Engaging the surrounding community, listening for its gifts and needs
  • Thinking about ways the congregation’s size and life stage affect the pastoral leadership it needs
  • Bursting assumptions about who the church is and what the church needs in a minister
  • Learning to tell the church’s story in a way that is honest and compelling
  • Beginning the process of updating the church’s constitution and by-laws and revising/implementing child protection and clergy sexual abuse prevention policies to facilitate the congregation’s mission in this next season

From the candidate's perspective

  • Could be serving elsewhere with no thought of seeking a new position.
  • Could be seeking a new call and keeping ears perked for opportunities. Might begin tracking your congregation’s progress through the transition time and looking for a position announcement.

Are we ready for the next stage?

  • We have celebrated the fullness of our church’s history.
  • We have spent time listening to scripture, one another, and our community.
  • We can articulate what God is calling our church to be and do going forward.
  • We have identified in a general sense the qualifications of a minister who can help us live toward that vision.

Go to next stage