June 22, 2012

Incarnational vs. Functional – A Search Process

My worst surprise returning from sabbatical was to find that my bishop had hired away my Director of Children and Youth Ministries to become the chaplain at the University of Washington. He now owes me a curate and two deacons to be named later, because I had designated her my franchise player. Hers will be hard shoes to fill.

As I begin our search process I am struck by how much a ministry is defined by the person filling it. We often think of programs in a functional sense, plugging in the necessary personnel and resources and hoping for the expected results. However, the incarnational aspect of each appointed minister is at least as important.

I have appointed an assisting priest and a good group of parents to develop the job description and bullet points that can be shared with candidates. Language like “energy that kids can connect with” and “strong communications skills” are certainly part of the profile. The functions required to perform the task are key components of any search.

But when we get down to actually interviewing candidates I imagine it won’t be the strongest resume but the most gifted spirit that joins the team. This could mean a wild swing away from the first expectations about age or experience. It could mean a re-arrangement of other positions so that important “Functions” can be handed off to a team member with those skills. It could mean creating a mentoring program. When you are open to God’s incarnational spirit you rarely land where you aimed.

In the next three blogs I will be outlining the process that St. Andrew’s Church has used in securing a Director of Children and Youth to replace the Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick, the new Episcopal Chaplain at the University of Washington. I am open to learning what the spirit has to say in these days. I bet I learn a few things worth sharing along the way.