Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Effective Search Committee Rejections, part one

Just what I need is another "series" of posts to keep up with, right?

One of my oddities related to my overactive interest in pastoral transitions is my collection of "rejection" letters. (I have a whole file full; if you have a good one you'd like to share with me, please send me a copy! It will go to good use.)

Here's a letter that I acquired recently that is about as good as it gets. I've removed any identifying marks, though I seriously considered giving public kudos to this search team for their great work. I've also added my comments about what makes this a great letter.

I've written before about so-called rejection-- I don't think is is such a bad thing in the big picture sense. Nevertheless, a lot of search teams botch this part up big-time, and can do damage to even the more thick-skinned candidates that they communicate with. Whether they fail to get some details right or tip their hand that they didn't really give serious consideration to the candidate, I consider this part of the process-- closing up with candidates that are no longer in the running-- a key index of whether a search team is doing things well overall.

This team (from the fictitious High Mountain Presbyterian Church) did not botch it up. They showed in their letter that they cared about the candidate, even though he wasn't the man for them. They gave real and useful reasons for why they went a different direction. And they showed a true submission to God's leading in the way they discussed it. All of these are marks of a good, healthy search process.

For those who have never received such a letter, you should know that this is a really prime example of what to do RIGHT in this situation. In the future I'll post some counter-examples to demonstrate.

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