The Discernment Doctor has added a new feature, an RSS feed from the Jobs Listings bulletin board published by the Episcopal Digital Network.  This straight forward listing of clergy jobs was launched a few months ago without much fanfare.  When I stumbled across it last month, my initial reaction was quite positive.  A commenter on a previous Discernment Doctor blog asked “Does anyone know why Episcopal Digital Network is offering free classifieds for lay and clergy positions? Is it because even diocesan transition staff are finding the OTM too cumbersome?”

Here is my best answer to that question and related questions.  Many thanks to the Rev. Jake Dell, the social media guru behind the Episcopal Digital Network for helping me respond.

The Episcopal Digital Network is a descendant from print publications like Episcopal Life.  EDN has no direct connection to the Office of Transition Ministries, though both part of the national church office at 815.  The Jobs Listings bulletin board evolved from the classified listings in print and online media.

The Jobs Listings bulletin board is a free service, although there is an enticement for an upgraded advertisement at $159 for four weeks.  Any parish search committee can fill out a simple one page form to list their opening.  The openings are published in reverse order from the day they are received.  They are not organized by parish size, location, or any other characteristics.  Clergy searching the list for possible openings need to quickly scan each posting to determine whether there is a potential fit.  The posting then refers clergy to the parish website and search committee site for more information.

By using the EDN Jobs Listings, parish search committees are indicating that they welcome unsolicited applications.  In terms of my previous theological analysis, they are open to a discernment process and not limited to the traditional call process.  In non-theological terms, a listing here indicates search committees will seriously consider direct applications from clergy.

The Episcopal Digital Network claims 125,000 monthly online page views, 33,147 unique monthly online visitors, and 11,000 opt-in e-newsletter subscribers.  Their Jobs Listings garnered 4,144 unique visitors in February, 2012.  New postings are tweeted at EDNTweets as well.

How does the EDN Jobs Listings stack up against the job listings found in the “Search Community Ministry Portfolios” section of the OTM Portfolio?  Both sites rely on search committees or diocesan staff to post new jobs.  The EDN list is currently not as comprehensive as that found within the OTM Portfolio, but I suspect that EDN will become more comprehensive over time as it becomes better known.  The EDN list is simple to navigate, the listings are short, and point candidates to the parish website for more information.  The OTM website is more complicated, offering visitors multiple ways of searching through the “Community Ministry Portfolios” – by size, pay scale, stage in a search, or diocesan location.  The information, if filled out by the search committee, is far more extensive.

Not all the information on either site should be trusted.  I tried to compare how the same job was listed on both sites and discovered that the first job I looked at was listed as full time on one site and part time on the other.

The OTM Portfolio, of course, is much more than a jobs listings site.  The OTM site contains an extensive database of clergy portfolios and a matching program to link potential candidates to open jobs.  It will take the marketplace of users, i.e. search committees and clergy, to determine which is more valued.  My own bias is that in the digital world, simplicity is valued over complexity.  Information linked through social media is more valued than information centralized on one site.

In the meantime, I advise clergy in discernment to look at every possible source of information about job listings.  The left hand column of this site tries to make that process easy.  There you will find links to every national, regional and diocesan jobs listing I could find.  Do your colleagues a favor and direct them to this site.  Ditto that for your diocesan transition ministry officers.  Hit the Facebook “Like” button.  Retweet.  Last week’s blog was read a record five hundred times, thanks to those of you who posted it on Facebook.