By Jessie Kearns
As someone who just graduated from seminary and is searching from a ministry position, I decided to attend the workshop entitled “THRIVE: Successfully Negotiating the Search Process.”
The Facilitator was Pam Durso, the Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry. She led a panel discussion made up of two recent search committee members, two recently hired clergypersons, and one clergyperson who is still searching for a ministry position.
Of course I related to the latter most of all. Still, there were several aspects of this workshop that I found helpful. And I appreciated the way that each of the panel members shared openly and honestly about their experiences.
Both of the search committee members, having come from two different churches, shared how their committees searched for and selected candidates. The approaches they described were completely different. One gave the impression that their search committee relied mostly on references from third-party sources, while the other announced their position and asked for resume submissions.
There were so many takeaways for me from this workshop.
What stands out the most is the need for support from other clergy members, who will understand what you are going through because they have been there. As one of the ministers said, “You will reach a point where you’ll wonder if God is even in this process. Then you’ll reach another point where you’ll know for sure that God is in this process because only God could have orchestrated this whole thing.”
Well, I suppose when you reach that second point that is how you will know that you have found the place God has for you. The search process is certainly full of emotional ups and downs for both applicants and churches.
That is why it is important for all of us to hold verses like Jeremiah 29:11 close to our hearts, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jessie Kearns is a former pastoral intern at Commonwealth Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., and recent graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary.