How does your church choose a pastor?

Just curious about this as I just found out today my pastor is being called to a different church. Our synod (Lutheran) gives churches a list of potential pastors to choose from and the church “calls” their choice and then the pastor can either accept or deny the call. The weirdest thing is that the call lists are made public weekly online.

It just seems wrong that I know he might be leaving when he was just called a week ago and it is likely few others know. I only know because a family member thought she recognized his name on the list (she works for a synod entity). I really wish I didn’t know. I had a really tough experience with a pastor growing up and the current pastor is the first pastor I’ve really trusted, so it will be tough to see him go if he does accept the call.

So, how does your church choose its pastor?

My LC-MS church recently called an assistant pastor. Our pastor had a few suggestions and he ask the Board of Elders and the Voters Assembly for names of pastors to issue a call to. We did not consider any of the District names because they were church growth pastors. Those types would never last in our congregration. We got the one that we wanted.

Our bishop chooses one for us, we get a bit of a say, usually we are grateful to receive any priest because it is such an arduous job at times. Anyway, our current priest has been with us for almost ten years and God grant that he stay for many more. :slight_smile:

I think that’s pretty much how it goes with ours too, though I really don’t know as I (being female) cannot vote. We’re WELS, so that likely gives you an idea of why. I know one pastor’s church recently dissolved and he hasn’t gotten a call so that makes me wonder too. I do know it took two months last time to find a new pastor and the one who was chosen had just graduated from seminary. We are a unique situation as we’re in a rural area and have 3 churches spanning about 80 miles. It is really odd and I think a hindrance if we do lose (probably not the right term) our current pastor :(.

You would have the same problem at my church, you couldn’t vote here either. Only men can be elders or be a member of Board of Directors, or be a member of the Voters Assembly. Even the men, to be a voter, need to sign the Constitution of our church before they are allowed to vote. Men chair all Boards.

In the Catholic Church, pastors are generally appointed by the bishop presiding over the diocese. Often, the local parishes really get little to no say in the matter, as diocesan priests have given a vow of obedience to the local bishop (given, by the way, when they become transitional deacons, as deacons ALSO take vows of obedience to the local bishop). Priests belonging to a religious order also sometimes are pastors of parishes, if they reside in a diocese that has a shortage of diocesan priests - but even they are named by the local bishop, as they need permission from the local bishop to celebrate Mass in his diocese outside their communities. The bishop has the final word on where a priest is assigned.

Different dioceses have different rules - some dioceses are strict followers of a 6-12 year rule, where (unless there is a scandal or a pastor dies), a priest is made a pastor of a given church for no fewer than 6 years (for continuity) and no more than 12 years (to prevent stagnation). Others are much more flexible - recently, the pastor of my church stepped down and retired after being the pastor for 25 years (though it was understandable, as he had recently been made the abbot of his religious community). Another parish I used to go to is on its 5th pastor in an 11 year period. He has been pastor for about 3-4 years, so for a time, the church averaged a new pastor every 2 years or so.

I don’t see it as a problem, just I don’t feel quite informed on the decisions and processes in the church. I admit, I wasn’t sure how the LC-MS did things and sometimes I get details of the different synods mixed up :o.

Thanks for the details! I did know the bishop made the decisions and such, but at least in the diocese where I live, it seems all of the changes for a given year are made at the same time, around the same time of year, barring an unexpected vacancy, so it is never a surprise for parishes in regards to timing. Wow, 5 pastors in 11 years is a lot!

Not all LC-MS congregrations are as strict as the one that I go to. Some allow women to vote and have church councils and to be on boards. Ours only allow men to be ushers and boys to serve as acolytes.

Some one usually who has graduated from seminary aplies and the deacons agree on it. Sometimes there are multiple pastors at the same church and they will make a church plant somewhere. Sometimes the pastors son will take over for him.

Qualified candidates are recommended by the district supervisor pending approval of the local church’s council.

The church board chooses him. The congregation might vote, but that’s really a formality.

That has been the practice in every Catholic (arch)diocese I have ever lived in (eight in total, including the current one). There is a “season” for the changing of missions, including parochial assignments. Around here, if you haven’t heard anything by the end of June then no changes are in store for that year. Any changes announced in June generally take effect in September.

In my denomination, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, all licensed Pastors and other Official Workers (as defined in our bylaws) are called by the Governing Authority of that church or ministry and appointed by either the District Executive of the district in which the church or ministry resides; or, in certain special cases, the President or some other specifically designated Executive Director of the National Office of the C&MA.

So, long and short, it works more or less like a Lutheran church: A short list of candidates is nominated by our District Executive (DEX, our version of a Bishop), the Elder Board of the church interviews each one, and either calls one of them or rejects the whole list and gets a new list from the DEX. Eventually, if the Elders and the DEX are stuck with no end in sight, the DEX may demand the resignation of all or some of the Elders (which is his right under our bylaws) to break the impasse or just dissolve the whole Board and appoint someone in his capacity as the “default” Governing Authority within his District.

We get really particular about this stuff. I’ve seen our DEX come down on Elder Boards like the wrath of an angry God over someone not properly dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s on this stuff. I don’t blame him for doing it, either. DEX is the goalie on orthodoxy in our polity and he’s held personally responsible by the National Office for the teaching of anyone licensed and/or ordained under his authority.

Just a side note… It’s incredibly helpful when posters identify their church body when explaining a process unique to their communion.

Thanks!

Methodist bishops appoint pastors to the churches. Go figure. I am personally aware of one congregation that threatened to leave the Methodist fold when the bishop tried to move their pastor, so this may be a flexible arrangement.

Baptists and other Protestants form a search committee to hold job interviews, and candidates are invited to preach for a Sunday or two to see how the congregation likes the candidate.

If I’m not mistaken, the United Methodist Church has a policy that requires pastor rotation after so many years. Neither the pastor or the congregation can keep a church/minister they like longer than a few years.

I had a first grade teacher who was married to a UMC pastor. They moved away when his time was up.

When I was an Episcopalian, (1960’s) our minister died. The members of the Vestry went to different churches within the demonination and ‘interviewed’ from the pew on Sunday. They made their selection, made an offer and we had a new minister. At least, that’s how my Dad explained it.

[quote=ltwin] Quote:

Originally Posted by Randy Carson

Methodist bishops appoint pastors to the churches. Go figure. I am personally aware of one congregation that threatened to leave the Methodist fold when the bishop tried to move their pastor, so this may be a flexible arrangement.

If I’m not mistaken, the United Methodist Church has a policy that requires pastor rotation after so many years. Neither the pastor or the congregation can keep a church/minister they like longer than a few years.

I had a first grade teacher who was married to a UMC pastor. They moved away when his time was up.
[/quote]

That doesn’t sound right. Kirby John Caldwell from the President Bush ceremonies has been at Windsor Village UMC since 1982. And at many UMCs in my city the senior pastor has been in place for decades. While a Bishop may move one for many reasons I don’t think there is a term limiting policy.

I can see term limits among some organizations being an additional reason so many mega churches are nondenominational though. I can imagine the cries that everybody is replaced after 5 years except X who brings in the offerings of 10,000 members.

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[quote=4Squarebaby] Quote:

Originally Posted by ltwin

Quote:

Originally Posted by Randy Carson

Methodist bishops appoint pastors to the churches. Go figure. I am personally aware of one congregation that threatened to leave the Methodist fold when the bishop tried to move their pastor, so this may be a flexible arrangement.

If I’m not mistaken, the United Methodist Church has a policy that requires pastor rotation after so many years. Neither the pastor or the congregation can keep a church/minister they like longer than a few years.

I had a first grade teacher who was married to a UMC pastor. They moved away when his time was up.

That doesn’t sound right. Kirby John Caldwell from the President Bush ceremonies has been at Windsor Village UMC since 1982. And at many UMCs in my city the senior pastor has been in place for decades. While a Bishop may move one for many reasons I don’t think there is a term limiting policy.

I can see term limits among some organizations being an additional reason so many mega churches are nondenominational though. I can imagine the cries that everybody is replaced after 5 years except X who brings in the offerings of 10,000 members.

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[/quote]

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BACKGROUND

Every local church needs a pastor. The United Methodist Church has a unique way of matching pastors and congregations. Rather than local churches hiring and firing their own pastors-as in some denominations-United Methodist bishops appoint pastors to serve in local churches and other ministry settings.

One advantage to this process is that a local church never has to go without a pastor. Likewise, a pastor (specifically, a full member of an annual conference in good standing) never goes without a setting for ministry. The primary goal of the appointment system is to match the gifts and graces of a particular pastor to the ministry needs of a particular congregation at a particular time.

This itinerant system, where pastors move from one appointment to another, dates back to American frontier days when circuit riding preachers traveled on horseback from town to town. At that time, bishops matched preachers to circuits four times a year. Now bishops typically fix appointments once a year.

umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2242545/k.37A3/Pastoral_Appointments_Overview.htm

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