Monday, June 04, 2007

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I got spoiled the first time I was seeking a call. I received and accepted a call less than a month and half after I was cleared to circulate my PIF, and the church I went to wasn't the first one to issue me a call. I'm not sure why it came so easy that time around, but it did. I do know that the PNCs (pastor search committee) I was in contact with back then were very motivated and moved very quickly, whereas the ones I've been in conversation with this time are taking their sweet time.

A few weeks ago I told a PNC that I wasn't their gal mainly because I couldn't stand the way they were going about the process. First, they didn't like my list of references because there were, "too many pastors and elders on it." Oookay. Then, it took three weeks for them to check my references because they felt they had to have the entire committee present to speak with the references. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn't and neither had any of my references.

The PNC of a congregation that I am very interested in has been dragging their feet, too. I had a terrific phone interview with them about a month ago and I know that they have called a few of references, but I hadn't heard a thing from them since the phone interview. So I e-mailed the committee chair last week to check in and ask if my sermon tape had arrived. He wrote back saying, "We haven't made any decisions yet, but you're still in the running."

Now, this bothered my husband to no end. He doesn't want me to be "in the running." He thinks that the PNC of the church I am ultimately called to will be super excited about me from the get-go and won't drag things out. You know, like it was the first time around. I've told him that we need to trust the process, that this PNC probably has some really good candidates that they are considering and that we need to be patient. But there is a part of me that wonders if he might be right. I'm not sure I want to be "in the running" either. Is this call process a horse race? Am I in competition with my fellow pastors? I don't think so, but I wonder if that's how some PNCs view the process.

So, I pray for these committees and their discernment, as well as mine, knowing that God's going to land me somewhere that's right. But could it be soon, Lord?


Alex said...

I want to agree with your husband. It should not be a horserace. The COM is not doing their job with PNCs that are being that goofy. It would be a bit of a red flag (at least a yellow flag) to see that kind of behavior. I want a PNC to fall in love with you -- as they should!

Di said...

Oy. "Trust the process." My favorite phrase. (Why isn't there an emoticon for dripping sarcasm?!)
OK, sorry, I can't get too high on my horse, because I gave the same advice to someone yesterday.

In any event, you have my sympathy, and what you're going through seems a bit ridiculous. Our churches are usually intentionally in transition for about a year +, so that they can clarify what they want before they start interviewing, so they don't wind up just hoping they know it when they see it. Do you guys do it that way?

Jody Harrington said...

You're wise to consider the way the PNC goes about its search as revealing something important about the congregation. But you're also wise to have some patience with the process--it is a committee after all and subject to the vagaries of its members.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

call processes are not fun - in any denomination. It sounds like a hallmark card maybe but I live by the old words "trust your gut" and sometimes when our own gut is in flux... we trust the gut of those we're closest to.

Anonymous said...

that first church is just nuts. But the it possible that they're just trying to be as thoughtful as you are? I don't know. It's a tough call. But you're right, it shouldn't ever be a horse race.

Anyway, praying with you for good processes and good answers.

Oh, and good on your husband for thinking so highly of you!

PPB said...

I think a month after the phone interview isn't too long. 2 months after, I'd be frustrated. Of course, I spent a whole 6 months interviewing literally coast to coast the first time around, so what do I know?

I think you were wise to drop that first church, though. To me that sounds like a church that doesn't realize it's presbyterian.

Rev SS said...

I agree with Hot Cup on this one! Praying for clarity for you.

Pastor's Husband said...

I've only done this once, but I can totally understand where your husband is coming from. It's hard to stand by and think that someone is thinking that your wife is any less amazing than you think she is.

I got his back in a bar fight...


Diane M. Roth said...

I hear you! I do think there is something fundamentally wrong with the way most churches choose pastors. When I pastored three small rural churches, they had a rule in the synod that a church could only have one pastor's name at a time (particularly with first calls). Then it's not a horse race. The church has to pray and decide about THAT PERSON, and if that person isn't right... they get another name. To me, that's most faithful, but most churches don't do it that way.

Iris said...

Thank you all! The call process can be maddening and hard to navigate sometimes, but it helps to have friends who know what it's like. You all have given me many things to consider and pray about.

Diane, someone told me recently that before reunion the southern Presbyterian church did things that way. There may be something to that.

*smirk*.... trying to picture my husband in a bar fight!

Rev Kim said...

How wise of you to discontinue the process with the first church. I wonder how much the dynamics of how the PNC operated reflected how the church operated.

I remember the chaplain at seminary in our senior worship service saying that the right call is worth waiting for. Of course that's true, but waiting, ugh.

Praying that God reveals quickly where you are to go!

Oh, and "The Princess Bride" is one of my husband's and my favorite movies. We quote it lots, which gets odd looks from people when we do it in public and laugh at these seemingly random and nonsensical comments.