Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Seasons of transition

It is peculiar, just a little bit, how much transition happens (or doesn't happen) based on the season.

I regularly (read: daily) check the vacant pulpit listings for my denomination, and I noticed an odd affirmation of this seasonal dependence recently. Over the past month, only four new listings have been added to the main listing, yet the “last updated” date changed at least twice a week, usually more. In other words, the last month saw probably 15 different updates of the list, but only four additions; all of the rest were positions being removed from the list.

Now I would love to see that kind of ratio remain constant-- eventually, there would be almost NO churches looking for a pastor! But this is not the way it is; rather, there is an ebb and flow to this list that I haven't quite figured out.

I would think, for example, that more pastors would leave churches during the summer; it is a natural time for transition (e.g., it doesn't disrupt the school schedule for the pastor's children, etc.). But what I described above actually shows the opposite: more churches filled pulpits than emptied them, if you will. (It could very well be that some, or even most, of those pastors that filled pulpits left empty ones behind, and those will show up on the list in due time.)

This seasonal effect applies at other times of the year, too. The “holiday season”, typically from mid-November until the end of the calendar year, is historically an awful time to be seeking placement. It just doesn't happen much: committees stop meeting, no one brings in a candidate-preacher during that time, and everyone is so busy that even minimal communication is a stretch. As I've talked with December graduates from my seminary, they have all indicated that this is a major obstacle. (There is more to it, which I'll address in another post.)

This seasonal thing is something worth watching, I think. You'll probably see more about it over time.

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