Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Behold, I am doing a new thing: The New UCC Profile Process Part 1

A few months ago Malcolm Himschoot, the Minister for Ministerial Transitions at the United Church of Christ's national office, provided a guest post to this blog about the new UCC Profile process which will debut on January 31, 2014. In December of 2013 the UCC posted some more information, including samples of completed Profiles and how-to videos. Unless I get a job through the current Profile system in the meantime, I plan to blog my entire journey of creating, activating and using the Profile. This first blog entry will involve a quick overview of the differences between this Profile and the one that has been in use for at least the last decade or so.

What remains (more or less) the same:

  • Basic contact information
  • Statement of Consent by the individual to circulate the Profile
  • Authorizations/Approvals by local and denominational officials
  • Criminal background check and disclosure about accusations of misconduct, etc.
What has changed: 
Pretty much everything else.
  • The profile will be a live online document and certain parts can be changed by the Minister or Member in Discernment at any time.
  • Each profile contains a "snapshot" that can only be viewed by Conference Staff. This section highlights gifts, skills and availability for ministry and can be updated in real time. 
  • The Statement on Ministry has changed to a series of essay questions about the "Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministers" (a list of character traits developed as part of the recent by-law changes regarding authorized ministry in the UCC.)
  • Checklists for self-evaluation and evaluation by references have been replaced by essay questions of the type that will be familiar to white-collar workers.
  • Three references are required and each individual Profile user will be able to hide some references in real time when seeking particular calls at his/her own discretion.
  • There is no limit on the number of positions that can be included under "Vocational Experiences." (The previous profile only allowed for four positions.) If the clergy person so chooses they can omit some positions from this part and list them only briefly in a smaller section at the end of the Vocational Experiences. This section provides room for summarizing three key accomplishments. Gone is the requirement to provide data about church size and budget for each position.
  • There is room to include supplemental information and attachments, as well as a section for live links to sermon videos, websites, blogs, etc. This is not required but is strongly encouraged.
  • The Profile concludes with space for "Closing Thoughts," such as a" prayer or dream for the community which you imagine serving ... a poem, a Scripture passage, or a piece of music that is meaningful to you."
My initial reaction as a job seeker is very positive. I have longed for a Profile that enabled me to tell my story in my own way, and that would make it easy for search committees to access live links to websites directly from the Profile.  I also think that reading narrative profiles (as opposed to profiles filled with checklists and numbers) is going to be much easier for search committee members. On the other hand, some Ministers used to the "old way" of doing things may have a hard time completing a new Profile that serves them as well as the old Profile did. Also, it is going to make it much harder for committees that receive a tremendous amount of Profiles. Although it is greatly discouraged, I am certain that some search committees rely on the checklist of attributes or data about the size of churches the applicant has served recently to narrow the field. Search committees who will be doing their work during the transition period (the old format will be phased out over a period of eighteen months) will deal with the further headache of receiving profiles in both formats--they will essentially be comparing apples and oranges. National and Conference Staff members are also going to have their hands full with people struggling to tell the story of their ministry in a new way.  Some clergy are not very familiar with the terminology of Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministers, even if they are shining examples of these Marks.  As a bi-vocational clergy person I am an old-hand at writing resumes and designing web content to support my job search, and I still feel I make a lot of mistakes and have a lot to learn. Those who have never done this will likely experience confusion and frustration.
My current plan is to start right now to prepare the materials that will be placed on the new Profile. I will let my references know that new and different reference requests will be coming their way very soon. I will work on the wording of my essay questions and accomplishments. I will revise my resume blog to compliment this new Profile format. Then, when the new process is activated, I will jump right in and try to get my new Profile up and running as soon as possible. I'm sure this will involve some bumps, which I plan to blog about (don't worry, National and Conference staff. I will use grace, kindness and humility when I write about the bugs that we are going to uncover together through this process.) 
This is part 1 of a series of posts about the new UCC Profile process. 
Part 2, in which I talk about developing a web link strategy, can be found here.
Part 3, in which I discuss pitfalls to avoid in providing links to web content, can be found here.
I blog, therefore I am. If you liked this post and want some food for thought about church ministry, check out http://creativityinchurch.blogspot.com/. If you or anyone you know is looking to hire a new Pastor, check out my professional profile blog at http://dclapsaddle.blogspot.com/.
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