The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Stated Clerk for Preparation for Ministry in Mid Council Ministries of the Office of the General Assembly.
“... the Land that I Will Show You” is the blog of the Office of Preparation for Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This blog is designed to serve as a resource for those discerning and preparing for a call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament as ordained teaching elders of the church. It will also provide a place for reflecting on and dialoging about the changing context of pastoral ministry in the early 21st century.
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Just before Thanksgiving, I heard some reporting about the effects of the loss of “human capital” on our economic recovery. Economists study the effects on both individuals and the broader economy when people are part of the “long-term unemployed” who have been looking for work more than six months. Such individuals begin to lose skills from non-use and to fall behind developments in their profession because they are not regularly engaged in the work. (You can see the report by clicking here.)
The news story got me thinking about two recent findings from ongoing reviews of statistics here in the Office of Vocation.
1. Based on a review of seminary graduation dates for some 1700 inquirers and candidates, we have found that almost half (48%) completed seminary two or more years ago—and quarter of those are still inquirers.
2. Currently there are 383 candidates seeking a first call through the Church Leadership Connection (CLC). About half of those candidates have had Personal Information Forms (PIFs) in the system for more than a year, and about a quarter of the total for more than two years.
Now, it should be noted that so far in 2010 we have had 165 persons receive their first call through the CLC. But the question that I am considering is this: How do we preserve the “human capital” created and invested in our inquirers and candidates through their seminary training while they continue the preparation process and seek their first call?
Because vocational ministry is different than many other professions, there are opportunities for keeping skills sharp and even continuing to develop them while seeking a first call. Inquirers and candidates should continue to be actively involved in church ministry serving in a variety of capacities. They can teach continuing or special occasion classes, lead prayer groups, and provide pastoral care through Stephen Ministry and similar programs. They should seek out the approval of their presbytery’s appropriate bodies to be included on “pulpit supply lists” to gain experience in preaching and leading worship.
What ideas or personal experiences can you share for preserving “human capital” for ministry while seeking a first call?