August 23, 2012

The End of the Search

I wrote earlier this summer about the search process for a new Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries at St. Andrew’s Church. I am happy to report we have just hired a fabulous young woman who is perfect for the job.

Even though this was a ¾ position with a moderate pay scale, we had over 24 applicants from across the country. Two had Ph.Ds. Five were ordained. Six were strong enough candidates to be interviewed and we ended up with two finalists.

These two were then invited to Sunday worship and to meet with two final interview teams. One consisted of our part-time support staff for children’s ministries: our senior and junior high youth leaders, our Church School superintendents, and our nursery team. The other were five representatives of the screening committee I assembled to narrow the field. Both groups concurred on our final choice.

She comes to us from the evangelical tradition having started church at Willow Creek. As an undergraduate she double-majored in youth ministries and biblical and theological studies. She then finished a masters of divinity at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. At age 28, she has already served a Presbyterian church and a Covenant Church as Director of Youth Ministries.

To me, she represents a kind of church worker that we see so seldom these days, someone who early in life finds a vocation for a particular calling (in this case youth ministry) and pursues her education and professional experience in that chosen field to arrive at an early age in a position that uses all her gifts. And she gets paid for it.

Professional Lay Ministers in the church, particularly in Christian education and faith formation for children and youth, used to be a sizable and important product of our Christian universities and graduate schools. Sadly, too often this area of ministry in the church is assigned to new clergy with no particular heart or skill in this area. It should not be automatic that the newly ordained get assigned children and youth ministry. This sensitive area of the church’s life takes specially trained professionals. Lucky for us at St. Andrew’s, we found one.