As our nation continues to experience double-digit unemployment, those who seek work are discovering that they need to be intentional about building relationships and developing contacts in the hopes that those efforts will result in a job.
How does this intentional, assertive behavior translate into the context of the church, where the means by which persons are called into ministry differ from one denomination to another? And how does one participate in the process with intentionality and faith when the systems that have historically worked to guide people into calls have themselves changed or even disappeared?
This is the position in which today's inquirer finds herself:
I am in the search and call process for the first time, and in fact need a call so that I can be ordained. I've done all the other steps...
Unfortunately in my denomination and region and I suspect we're not alone, the placement process has really broken down as regional staff people have been let go, and alternative volunteer and quasi-volunteer arrangements are being tried out. So, while I'm trying to keep my name in front of the person who is sending profiles out to churches, it's clear that I don't have an advocate speaking on my behalf.
My question is how assertive, aggressive, self-advocating can I be in this situation? In former days in the denomination it would have been a no-no to contact churches directly or any way except through the regional minister. Because I am not yet ordained, I don't want to shoot myself in the denominational foot. What can I do besides call the placement coordinator every six weeks? I've thought of sending my profile to people who know me and asking them to pass it on to churches that might be searching when they are in regional meetings.
Any ideas? In any other career job search you would not rely on calling one recruiter every six weeks.
Sounds like you’re working hard to be sensitive to the practices within your denomination. I wonder if you’ve asked those you know within your denomination, perhaps even the placement coordinator, what would be acceptable as you seek your first call. I think it’s appropriate to let others know that you’re searching and they’ll be able to tell you what feels right in your denomination’s scaled back climate. Others speaking on your behalf seems always to be acceptable, too.
Wow, you are in a really tough spot! I am sorry that the placement process has broken down to such a degree, and that your search is suffering because of it.
In my denomination, it did used to be somewhat frowned-upon to directly contact the congregation or submit our materials on our own. That seems to have changed somewhat, though perhaps not in your denomination. I think it depends some on how the church is getting the word out about the position. If it is generally advertised, and if the advertising includes information about submitting materials, I think it should be okay to directly send your information. For instance, most of the congregations who advertise in Christian Century seem generally open to hearing directly from applicants.
Regardless, it can't hurt to have your friends, colleagues, and mentors also advocating for you. Make sure they all have copies of your profile, your resume, and any other materials that might be helpful. Let them know exactly what kinds of positions you are open to. If you hear of a church with an opening, ask one of your contacts to submit your name.
Keep contacting the placement coordinator as well, and maybe more than every six weeks.
Best wishes in your search!
I know we all wish our sister well in her search, but perhaps you have more to offer her - from your own experience or that of others you know. Please add your comments to those of our matriarchs by using the Post a Comment function at the close of this post.