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Apr 04, 2011


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Is that the positions available, or the positions the called are actually filling? Because There are tons of PCUSA Churches close to where I live that don't have pastors and rely on pulpit supply while they are searching. The same is true of practically all the other mainline Churches around here too.

Michael W. Kruse

The first graph is total positions and total call seekers. The second is 1st time call seekers and congregations who have indicated they will take a first time call.

Many churches looking for a pastor indicate they are not interested in a first time call. There is also the distinction of wanting an installed pastor and being able to pay a minimum salary. As I understand, you must have both the desire and the means to be considered as congregation pursuing a call.

Beloved Spear

So what seminaries need to be doing...at least those that serve PC(USA) constituencies...is making it clear that church planting and the development of intentional communities is a vital and likely necessary skillset. More importantly, CPMs need to start reinforcing this reality to Inquirers and Candidates before they're sent doe-eyed into the call system wilderness.


One of the challenges that seminary grads who desire to start a non traditional church may face is dealing with the institutional memory of the last time Presbyterians did "creative church."

It is my understanding that there were quite a few attempts at doing some "nontraditional things" in the 70's. I have known some folks who were involved with them. I don't have any hard data but I have the sense that while many of them may have started with a great deal of energy and even success most if not all of them ended badly. The closing of those congregations 5, 10, 15 yrs after they started may have consumed a lot time and energy of COM's and Presbytery staff. And left hard feelings all around. And made folks who might have embraced creative stuff as a young minister in 1970-75 a bit skeptical in 2011.

The folks who want to do creative things now would do well to do a little research about what happened in their area back in the day and be ready to explain what they have learned from those mistakes and what they will do differently.


There are a number of congregations that are now 1st call congregations but are unwilling to admit it.

A few yrs ago I was aware of a congregation with an interim. They were offering a bit above presbytery minimum. And were expecting to be able to call a 35 yr old "pulpit stud" with a dynamic family who had a couple of successful 5 yr starter and second calls under HIS belt. Of course they did not get any PIF's from this type of minister. They were convinced that the Presbytery was withholding the "good" candidates from them.


How wonderful that new pastors are rediscovering this "new" way of being the church. While we love our beautiful old buildings, perhaps it is time to recognize that unless these buildings house a large and wealthy congregation they may be doing more to inhibit ministry than to support it. Perhaps it is time to recognize that we don't need quite so many tiny little congregations and that we should focus less maintaining buildings and statistics and more on sharing resources among many people with buildings serving more like mission outposts than personal territories. How wonderful it would be if various congregations that are no longer sustainable in their current format would either combine with neighboring congregations or voluntarily give up their buildings to invest the money now spent on upkeep in doing the missional work that actually inspires people and draws them to Christ. Rather than lamenting the dearth of traditional calls, we should be celebrating the creativity of those who are planting congregations and fellowships that care more about the Word and work of Christ than about having a building with a traditional sanctuary and pastor's study. I'd guess a lot more small congregations without pastoral leadership would be able to have pastoral leadership if they were willing to give up their buildings and meet somewhere less costly. I'd guess a lot more new pastors would be installed for congregations if congregations encouraged telecommuting, ministry out in the community, and pastoral counseling in the local Starbucks or Denny's or whatever. To be sure, I love the beauty of historic buildings and the sound of a good pipe organ played with skill, but I love Jesus more and believe we are all called to be willing to sacrifice for the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I'd be more than willing to give up the beautiful building where I serve if it meant we were doing more mission and evangelism. Of course, even if a congregation could be convinced of that, there's always the challenge of the presbytery's role in property....

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