When I was researching and writing Searching for the Called, I made the choice to offer the resulting materials free of charge. Because I believe in this approach to ministerial searches, I wanted to eliminate any barriers to its use, particularly in smaller congregations. I’m available for coaching if the resources alone do not provide enough guidance, but I’ve found that the comprehensiveness of Searching for the Called makes the coaching piece optional rather than necessary in many cases.
As a result, I often have no idea which churches have downloaded Searching for the Called or what judicatory or denominational bodies have recommended it to their congregations. I do know that bodies across the ecumenical spectrum have put it to good use.
An exception to this not-knowing is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which has adopted Searching for the Called as the primary document distributed to searching churches. (This is due to encouragement from and engagement with Craig Janney, CBF’s Reference and Referral Manager, throughout the development process.) Searching for the Called was launched at CBF General Assembly two years ago. As I moved through conversation spaces at this year’s Assembly, I received several comments from laypeople along the lines of, “I wanted to meet you. Our church used your materials, and they were so helpful to us. We now have a pastor that we love!” (Were lovelier words ever spoken?) I also tagged along in workshop leadership with a senior pastor and one of her search team members whose church used Searching for the Called. On the last afternoon of Assembly, that room was full of laypeople and ministerial candidates eager for a hopeful word about the search process, and I could tell by the energy level in the room that they were getting one.
I am so grateful that Searching for the Called can be a small part of that hope. In a world quick to focus on what is lacking, on what will never be, on what divides us, my prayer is that an approach to pastoral searches rooted in hospitality can open a window into what God sees, what God wants, how God is at work connecting us with one another and with the future.
Thank you for your trust in the process. As Searching for the Called evolves, I will work hard to make sure the resources continue to be worthy of that precious gift.