Congregational Call Process
The time of calling a pastor can be a special time for reflection and prayer in the life of a congregation. This time of transition is an opportunity for the Congregational Leadership to provide encouragement, trust in God, unity and spiritual growth. Prayer, bible study, and regular devotions keep the leadership spiritually centered as it guides the congregation in grieving its loss, assessing the current congregational strengths and weaknesses, creating a vision for mission and ministry, and calling a new pastor.
What is a “Call?”
At the heart of our Lutheran theology is something Martin Luther termed “the priesthood of all believers.” In our baptism God has called us all to be part of the body of Christ. Luther reminded us of the Latin origin of the word “vocation” – vocare – which means, “to call.” All of us take up our vocations – our callings – as God’s people. We are all ministers in whatever daily activity we take up. Within this priesthood of all believers there exists the office of ordained ministry, the “office of Word and Sacrament” (see Augsburg Confession, below).
On the basis of our Lutheran theology, a pastor is called, not hired, to serve a congregation. The call process is not the same as the hiring process in other parts of society. Any process that seems to focus on “head hunting”, resume’ shuffling, or high anxiety interviews is missing the point in the calling of a pastor. A call is one element in the church’s seeking and following God’s movement into the future. A call is about discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit in the work of ministry.
The call process is not a pageant, in which contestants present themselves to their best advantage so they will be the winners.
The Lutheran call process is unique because it is an effort to discern what God wants for the local church and for the whole church in order that the Gospel may be proclaimed and the sacraments administered in accordance with the Gospel.
The Grand Canyon Synod office has prepared three important documents to assist congregations and call committees in understanding the process of calling a rostered leader in this synod:
- Call Process Manual – This manual contains detailed information concerning the Call Process (i.e., developing a Ministry Site Profile; forming a call committee; interviewing candidates and making a final decision).
- Appendixes (available in word documents)
- Pastoral Leadership Transition Steps -This brochure outlines the call process in our synod.