Here is an abstract of some interesting research conducted at the University of Iowa on how clergy approach job searches.  It speaks to the distinction made in my previous blogs between “call” and “discernment” theology.  The researchers’ use of “pull” and “push” factors seems to parallel the contrast between “call” and “discernment”.  If so, the researchers conclude that “push” factors, aka “discernment” theology, are the primary motivators of clergy behavior in searches.

This research makes the Discernment Doctor feel like he is on the right track by publishing aids for clergy using a discernment/push approach.  What do you think?

” Factors Leading to Clergy Job Search in Two Protestant Denominations”  Tina Wildhagen, Charles W. Mueller and Minglu WangReview of Religious ResearchVol. 46, No. 4 (Jun., 2005), pp. 380-402


People often assume that clergy make job-related decisions based primarily on spiritual criteria, such as a “calling.” In this paper, we challenge this sort of belief by examining clergy job search behavior from a sociology of work perspective. Using data from a 1996 national survey of parish clergy in two Protestant denominations, we build a job search model that identifies the factors that motivate ministers to search for positions with other congregations. The results indicate that push factors, like key job characteristics and community involvement, and human capital factors (skills and experience) affect ministers’ job search propensity. Pull factors, or the availability of positions at other churches, have no apparent effect on search propensity. In addition, calling appears to have little effect on a minister’s decision to search for positions with other congregations. We conclude that, contrary to stereotypical views of them as guided primarily by faith-based concerns, ministers consider many of the same factors as do other employees when deciding whether to search for new jobs.