With a title like that for a post, I feel like I should break into some sort of Monty Python skit. But I shall resist.
Today my denomination is advertising a position in the national office with the title, “Program Coordinator for Ministry Recruitment”
The description follows:
The General Council Office of The United Church of Canada is seeking a Program Coordinator for Ministry Recruitment in the Ministry & Employment Unit on a full-time permanent basis.
This position will work with the unit team members at the denominational office in Toronto. The Recruitment Program Coordinator will bring a fresh approach as the denomination identifies and fulfills its current and future ministry leadership needs.
The General Council and Conference Offices of The United Church of Canada, as part of the wider church, support the mission and ministry of the congregations, presbyteries and mission units, working towards identity and connectivity both inside and outside the church. Within this context, the Ministry & Employment Unit oversees church-wide programs related to the recruitment, assessment, and preparation of candidates for the church’s ordained and diaconal ministers and designated lay ministers.
The Program Coordinator for Ministry Recruitment works collaboratively with General Council staff colleagues and elected members as the denomination identifies its current and future ministry leadership needs, and determines the appropriate qualifications and training for vocational leadership. He or she will particularly work with staff for theological education, intercultural ministry, ministry leadership, admissions, youth and young adult programs, and the network for ministry development.
Cool! This is a pretty good idea! We need some more recruitment for our denominational leadership in the coming years as we see our churches losing ministers to retirement dramatically over the next 10 years. I can only see one problem.
It won’t work.
Believe me, I wish it would. But it doesn’t stand a chance.
Aside from maybe some clergy transfers from another denomination, I don’t know of anyone who came to be a minister in this denomination because of the national church. Sure there might be a few, I’m not ruling it out, but the number would be few.
The call to ministry results from personal development and support from a local congregation. And since every congregation is different, you cannot prescribe a “national program” to change this. We should have learned this from our experience with our “evangelism” ads that tried to bring young adults into our church. What the ads showed was nothing like what was seen in our local churches.
The way our church functions, from a grassroots movement that bubbles upward to the national office will not work in the opposite direction. My church is different than the church next door, and because we are structured the way we are, this is the way it should be.
What will increase our ability to recruit new leadership is a better job of discipleship and evangelism in our local churches.
In short, Jesus Christ becoming the primary, sole, ultimate focus of our congregations will move us in this direction.
We can’t program this from above. Jesus came to earth, walked among the people, talked with them, lived with them. That’s how he recruited his leaders. We must do the same.
If God can’t prescribe something from above, then what hope do we have?
We must encourage our current leadership to embrace a model of discipleship and evangelism, which will encourage others in our churches to do the same. Which in turn helps bring people into a fuller understanding of God in their lives, which may lead to new leadership.
How do we do this? Give them opportunities to experience and explore this on a regular basis (several times a year) and at not too far a distance to travel. Experiencing worship, support, Christ in the lives of our leadership will help.
Less bureaucracy, administration, spirit-deadening work and more Christ please.
Bottom up folks. It’s the way to go.