The Search Pt 1: The Dating Game
A lot of ministers who have been in the biz for a while often liken the search and call process in Reformed Polity to dating. With all of the phone calls, awkward first encounters, getting excited planning a tentative future with someone who is just not that into you while rejection letters pile up I certainly understand what they mean by this. Maybe your church and I were made for each other?
Name: Wayne W. Bowerman
Ecclesiastical Status: Ordination pending first call
Passions: Long walks on the beach. Puppies. Partnering with people who strive to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with his or her God (one of these is actually true)
Pet Peeves: Gum chewing. Complaining. David Crowder/Chris Tomlin-esque worship music (All of these I have been guilty of indulging in at one time or another. One of these I am willing to compromise on, especially for a group of people who share passion number 3 above).
Churches and pastors actually do have “profiles” in our denomination. And there is a website where ordination hopefuls and ordained clergy without a church (or unfulfilled in their current relationship with a church) can go and check out what churches are currently single (that is without a pastor).
Seriously, this is what it feels like some days. I mean no disrespect. One of the reason I gravitated to the Reformed church was for her system of polity. I believe that – at least in theory – it is a great balance between congregationalist polity (the extreme of which is the laissez faire non-denominational structure I grew up with) and the hierarchy of an episcopal polity. I mean no disrespect to my friends in these other traditions either. I believe all forms of church governance have their strengths and weaknesses.
So since May I have had 7 or 8 interviews. I have had 4 rejection letters, 2 withdrawals from candidacy, and about 20 more profiles/resumes gone completely unacknowledged.
But c’mon! I am ready for something serious. I have been dreaming of this for much of my life. I spent the last 8 years preparing for this. I graduated seminary in may. It has been nearly 9 months. Some days I feel I am ready for a shot gun wedding Sometimes I think I wish I had a bishop to appoint me somewhere.
Through all of this my family’s prayer has been and continues to be that God will guide each church in the search process to a candidate best suited for the task of nurturing their particular congregation and their broader community and that a call will open up for us at the place where our family can best flourish and be a blessing to others. We pray the same for any other candidates and their families and invite you to join us in that prayer.