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The two basic documents required for entering a search process, the resume and the OTM Portfolio, begin with similar if not identical statements.  On the resume, the statement is called a “Ministry Objective”.  On the OTM Portfolio, the statement is called a “Personal Ministry Statement”.

Chris Moore’s excellent introduction to clergy resumes, http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/documents/CDO_clergy_resumes.pdf , states the standard approach to “Ministry Objectives”:

The Ministry Objective can be used to answer three major questions:

What is the position you are seeking (i.e., rector, vicar, associate, staff member, institutional ministry)?

(If a parochial position) What is the size of the church you want to serve (i.e., family, ministry program, or corporate)?

What are the gifts you bring to ministry?

I wonder whether answering the first two questions strikes search committees as somewhat redundant.  After all, if I am on the rector search committee in a pastoral size congregation, can’t I assume that all applicants are interested in being a rector in a pastoral size congregation if they have taken the time to send me a resume?  Aren’t search committees more interested in information about who a candidate is, rather than what a candidate wants?

The opening statement on a resume and the OTM Portfolio set the context for all additional information presented by a candidate to a search committee.  It is like the opening handshake in an interview.  An opening statement should indicate how the candidate will answer the two basic questions all search committees ask:  “Does this candidate have the requisite skills and experience to succeed in this job?”  And “Will the candidate fit well within our community?”  i.e. “Does the candidate share our sense of purpose and our values?”

According to my colleague, Rob Voyle, “A provocative purpose statement … is a statement that bridges the past and present with the future.  We use the term provocative purpose statement because they call people to their core purpose…”  According to Rob, Jesus’ provocative purpose statement could be, “I am the light of the world.”

The heart of a provocative purpose statement is a metaphor for who you are at your best.  Metaphors, like pictures, are worth a thousand words, which comes in handy when you only have a few words for your opening statement.  My metaphor is “navigation”, as in steering a boat.  The metaphor captures my skills in helping individuals and institutions read the context of their ministries and chart a productive course into the future.  My metaphor is based on an activity I love, small boating. Paddling canoes and kayaks and expresses my core purpose in life, steering the church through uncharted waters to a better future. (I hope this blog fulfills that metaphor for you.)

Rob Voyle’s website http://www.clergyleadership.com/ can lead you to both written material and workshops to help identify your own provocative purpose statement.

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