Filling Pastorates Remains a Challenging Task

Post a Comment » Written on December 26th, 2005     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (December 26, 2005)  – Specialization and economics are among the  factors that have made placing pastors in congregations increasingly  difficult, says David Kersten, executive minister of the Department of  the Ordered Ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Kersten says roughly 130 pastors currently have identified themselves as  open to a call (from another congregation). Each month averages between  60 to 80 openings. “But well over half of those are in staff ministry,”  Kersten notes.

Those staff ministry positions continue to be more specialized. Among  those are children, family and youth ministries. Church planters also  have been in short supply, with some of those pastors now coming from  outside the Covenant.

One of the most rapidly developing specialties is in the area of worship  arts, which includes a broad spectrum of needs and skills like soloist,  musician, choir leader, worship planner and technical expert, Kersten says.

“Churches expect a lot in their worship arts person,” Kersten says.  “They also want them to be theologically trained.”

Seminarians usually train for generalized ministry, but pastors will  need to do more, especially if they want more opportunities for  placement, Kersten says. “Everyone needs to be thinking of a  specialization that they can bring to the churches,” he suggests.

The Covenant is unable to train an adequate number of its own youth pastors, church planters or worship arts leaders, it is noted. The seminary is looking at ways to further develop these specialties, but many seminarians and current pastors are seeking senior or solo roles.

“We are in a historic time,” Kersten says. “The number of staff and  specialized positions outnumber the senior or solo pastorates.” He adds  that the Covenant has roughly 1,600 specialized positions and 750 solo  or senior spots.

Some large churches are beginning to hire staff ministers from within  and giving them much of their training. When that person fills a  position, that means another pastor will not fill it, and more openings  won’t occur, Kersten says.

Kersten notes that a majority of Covenant churches have an average of  150 or fewer attendees. “We are undersupplied for small churches and  oversupplied for medium and large churches,” he says.

Economics is a major factor in supplying the smaller churches because of  the difficulty in meeting salary, insurance, and pension needs. Economic  uncertainty sometimes causes churches to be apprehensive about hiring  staff, and for pastors to be nervous about moving their families.  Financial concerns could mean that more pastors will need to be  bi-vocational.

On the pastor’s side, moving from one area to another could mean a  significant financial loss for the family. Also, a majority of pastors  have spouses who are developing their own careers and may need to remain  in the same location.

All of the challenges present their own opportunities and downfalls that  the Covenant will have to address, Kersten says. In the meantime,  filling openings may continue to take more time.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog