Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mismatch problems

It's been a long time since I've blogged about how churches can do a better job with their search processes. I admit that my focus has been on candidates (and even primarily on the transition from seminary to a first ministry) for some time now. I think my horizons will broaden over the coming months, starting with this post.

I'm a big fan of writer Malcolm Gladwell; I think he's not only one of the best writers around, but also one of the smartest guys writing. He recently gave this speech at the New Yorker Conference for 2008 (in addition to his books, Gladwell is a regular columnist for the New Yorker).

Gladwell's premise is that we are stuck in patterns of faulty hiring criteria, mainly because we are so focused on the hope of certainty of a good fit. He calls this idea a "mismatch problem."

I think this is spot-on, and I think it applies to pastoral searches as much as anything else. How many mismatches are there because churches considered the wrong criteria? Or because some Pastor seemed like a "solid candidate" only because of his awards in seminary or the big downtown church where he interned?

Don't get me wrong: the guys I know who won awards in seminary really deserved those awards. And I did an internship at one of the big (well, not downtown) churches, so I believe that they are valuable experience. But these aren't the sorts of credentials that indicate a good fit, are they?

Here's a question for you, my 10s of readers: what if the ONLY materials a search committee gathered about candidates were references? How would that speak to the mismatch problem?

(Go watch the video now, and be prepared for a great speech-- in spite of his crazy hair.)

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