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Understanding the process from the clergy’s perspective

Clergy beginning to search for a new position can anticipate spending a year or two looking at several prospective positions before finding a good match and receiving a call.  This process takes time for at three reasons: 1. It takes a while to find a good match, 2. Not all good matches result in a call, and 3. The process from initial nomination through final interview and decision often takes six to eight months.

Clergy in a search process have two tasks: 1. To discern whether a given parish will be a blessing for you and your family, and 2. To present yourself to the search committee as a blessing to the parish.  The discernment task requires clergy to ask penetrating questions of themselves and of parishes. It also requires clergy to interview search committee members, area clergy, and diocesan staff.  The presentation, or to be blunt, sales, task requires clergy to present themselves in the best light to search committees through resumes, written materials, and personal interviews.

Clergy often have difficulty balancing the discernment and sales tasks and can be tempted to let the sales mode overshadow the discernment mode.  The goal of a search is to find the right call, not just to win the first available job.  Each step in a search process calls for a different balance between sales and discernment modes.   As you proceed further into a given search, your emotional investment to be called will increase and it will tempt you to overemphasize the sales task.

Clergy follow a five step process that parallels the steps taken by search committees.

Five steps of a search process

  1. Define your skills, values, and purpose – Know thyself is the first and most important step in a search.
  2. Identify and enter appropriate searches – Use the left side of this blog to enter national and diocesan job posting sites.  See previous blogs on the OTM Portfolio – 8/27/11 and 9/28/11.
  3. Discern what parishes are seeking and respond to search committee questions – Learn how to “reverse engineer” profiles and other data to show how your skills, values and purpose coincide with the parish’s skills, values and purpose.
  4. Engage in face to face interviews – Prepare, put your best foot forward in the first minute, and relax.  Don’t forget to do your own discerning.
  5. Respond to a call or lack thereof – How to negotiate a contract, or how to learn and move on.

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