Monday, January 13, 2014

The New UCC Profile Process Part 4: for Pastors and Churches?

I've been reading a lot of church Profiles lately. The top three things churches say they are looking for in a Pastor are:
  • Preaches interesting, Biblically-based sermons that relate the gospel to their lives. (Sometimes this is worded more broadly, such as "effective preacher/worship leader."
  • Helps the church grow in participation (sometimes this is more specific, such as "attract young families" or "increase youth participation.")
  • Supports the work of church committees.
What they really want, of course, is to fall "in love." While I believe that Christian love is about putting Christ's love in action and not about a warm, fuzzy feeling, a Pastor and a congregation (or other setting for ministry) won't be able to form a successful collaboration without good chemistry.

Is it possible to find love online? Current statistics indicate that fully thirty percent of American marriages originate in online matches.  Because the new Profile process has similarities to online services that create romantic matches, I have decided to peruse a variety of articles that offer tips for putting together an online profile to see if I can garner any wisdom from this advice. Here is the advice that spoke to me.

Images Matter. Because you are not seeking a romantic love connection, you might suppose that photos and video images don't matter. That just isn't the case. I include an image at the top of every blog entry I write because it makes whatever I write seem more interesting. A good photo and/or video is one that enables a viewer to establish a sense of emotional connection. If your online sermon video stops on an awkward-looking shot of you, it is possible (and advisable) to change that shot. 

Don't Try To Impress. I found this tip in a Psychology Today article about online dating. It reminded me of a truism I heard long ago about search committees--that if they rank the Profiles from most impressive to least-impressive, they most often end up choosing a Pastor somewhere in the middle. As I get older I am learning to focus less on exhaustively cataloging achievements and more on getting across personal qualities (such as patience, compassion and humor.)
Avoid Lists. Tell Stories. This tip comes from Men's Fitness, and it's a good one. I was just turned down for a job because they were looking for a Pastor with a number of years of experience in overseas mission. I have this kind of experience, but they may have overlooked it because I have presented it on my Profile in the form of a list. Even on my blog I haven't done a great job of telling the story of my overseas mission experience. Lesson learned.
Don't be Negative. I find this easier to avoid in the Profile process than through the interview process, but since adding a blog to supplement my materials I've caught myself talking about what I don't like and don't want once or twice. I also talk a little about about what I don't believe in my current sermon video, and for that reason I plan to record a new one this coming Sunday.
Be Focused and Consistent. If a search committee gives a confusing reason for rejecting your candidacy, don't overreact by totally changing your online link content and/or your Profile. Churches have to say something when they reject a candidate. Don't take it too personally and don't let it throw you. Spend time with the feedback and consider whether (and how) you should incorporate the feedback into your Profile and online content. If the feedback continues not to make sense to you, as it says in Matthew 10:14, "shake the dust from your feet" and move on.
Note: This is the fourth installment of a multi-part series of posts about the new UCC Profile Process.
Find Part 1, which provides a review and overview of the process here, and Part 2, in which I discuss my strategy for providing web links, here.  Part 3, in which I discuss potential pitfalls in providing web links on a Profile, is here.
I blog, therefore I am. If you liked this post and want some food for thought about church ministry, check out If you or anyone you know is looking to hire a new Pastor, check out my professional profile blog at
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