Minister profiles are several pages long, and they contain a lot of information to process. Not all of that information is important or necessary for your initial review of a candidate. When reading profiles, especially the initial reading, take a break after each one. Give your mind time to process what you’ve read. Experience has shown that when we try to read more than two in a sitting, the candidates start to look the same.
When you read the profile for the first time, look for the things that are attractive about the candidate. It will help if you follow the steps below. Experience has also shown that trying to read too much too fast veers our focus. We stop looking for the positive traits of a candidate and start picking the candidate apart, looking for reasons to set the person aside.
We can only learn so much about a person from what they put on paper. To get to know someone, you need to engage in conversation. Conversation is not commitment. Not too many people get engaged on the first date. Be willing to engage in a brief, let’s get to know each other, conversation with several candidates.
Our diversity includes people who present themselves better in person and people who present themselves better on paper. Consider the minister that you are going to call. Will they interact with the congregation more on paper or more in person? You will make better, more informed decisions by interacting with candidates in the same way.
When Reviewing a Profile
- Review the minister’s Personal and Professional Data for educational background and specialized training.
- Pay special attention to the Spiritual Discernment and Leadership Gifts. This section provides the first indication of how this minister thinks and talks. Here you will start to discern whether this is a person you seem to connect with. Let this section generate questions you might want to ask or topics you might want to discuss when you meet with this person.
- Review the work history in Ministerial and Vocational Service. Does this minister have the experience you are seeking? Your regional minister is also using this to screen candidates.
- Read the References. Once you have decided to engage a candidate, call the references for the candidate. Have a conversation with each of the candidate’s references, but especially have a conversation with the regional minister who is providing the first reference.
Sections of the Profile
- PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DATA: (1-2 pages) This section contains contact information along with the minister’s educational background, degrees earned, and any specialized training.
- SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT AND LEADERSHIP GIFTS: (1-2 pages) These are eight short answer questions, and the minister is limited in the total number of characters that can be used to answer all eight.
- AREAS OF MINISTERIAL PRACTICE: (1-2 pages) The General Commission on Ministry identified 16 areas of ministerial practice that guide the education, training, and development of clergy. All ministers with credentials are expected to demonstrate competency in each of these areas. In this section, the minister identifies which areas they feel are their top four. They can also offer thoughts on their areas of improvement.
- MINISTERIAL AND VOCATIONAL SERVICE: (1-5 pages) This is the minister’s work history and should cover all employment, both inside and outside the church.
- REFERENCES: (13 pages) There are four references with contact information, the reference’s assessment of the top four competencies, and their thoughts. The first reference is always the regional minister in the minister’s region or a person the regional minister has authorized to complete this reference.
The information contained in the minister profile is confidential, as is the knowledge about the minister’s search. Please protect the identity of candidates and the information in the profile. If you print hard copies of the profile, please secure them when not in use and destroy them when done. If you store profiles on your computer or other device, store them in a location that is not accessible by others, such as family members and co-workers.
Criminal Background Check
To circulate their profile in the search and call system, ministers must submit to a criminal background check through Oxford Document Management. The profile will not go into circulation until the background check has been returned and reviewed by the minister. Oxford Document Management requests criminal background data from every state and municipality where the minister has lived or worked in the past seven years. They also check federal registries.
The minister pays the cost of the background check up front, $165. It is customary for the congregation to reimburse this expense for the minister that they call from the system.
Seeing a background check that is not all clear is not, in and of itself, a reason to set a candidate aside. If an offense appears on a minister’s background check, ask a few questions. What was the nature of the offense? How long ago was it? What does the minister say about the offense in the Disclosure and Release?
If the minister’s criminal background check is not clear, or if the minister has ever been the subject of an investigation or disciplinary action for ethical matters, the profile will include a disclosure. For more information, refer to Reading the Disclosure Form and Criminal Background Check.