Since 1997, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Church Leadership Connection (CLC) has served as the denomination’s online matching and referral system, bringing together call seekers and calling organizations with complementary skills and interests to serve the leadership needs of Christ’s church.
A lot has changed in the past 16 years.
“The needs of today’s church are more complex than when the system was first launched,” said the Reverend SanDawna Gaulman Ashley, coordinator for Leadership Development and Church Leadership Connection in Vocational Ministries, part of the newly formed Mid Council Ministries team in the Office of the General Assembly. “We are attempting to make the call process more efficient as we aim to address the needs of a changing denomination.”
Recognizing the need to bring the system up-to-date, the 219th General Assembly (2010) initiated a comprehensive revision project calling for “a process to evaluate the current call system of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and bring recommendations back to the 220th General Assembly (2012) for changes that will shorten the length of time during which a church seeking a pastor is ordinarily without an installed pastor” (Minutes, 2010, Part I, p. 248 of printed Journal, p. 477 of electronic Journal).
The new system—which will not only help to expedite the call process, but will also ensure more compatible matches—will launch on August 1, 2013.
In accordance with the General Assembly’s directive, the CLC evaluation process was comprehensive, and included a series of listening sessions with study groups across the denomination as well as the collective wisdom of a special advisory committee.
Among the insightful requests that eventually led to the revised system, CLC users asked that the system provide greater flexibility for a wide variety of positions that do not fit the parameters of a “normal” pastoral position.
A number of constituents also expressed a desire for a call system that—rather than matching on preferences—would embody a more biblical theology of call, inviting seekers to be more intentionally open to the movement of the Spirit, knowing that God may call them to serve in roles and places they might not have imagined.
“Our first priority was to look at ‘fit’ and how to gain greater compatibility between calling organizations and call seekers,” Ashley said. “We also wanted to emphasize through the system the church’s openness to the sovereign activity of God in the call process. Our watchword and charge come from the prophet Isaiah, ‘Here am I, send me.’”
According to Ashley, the new system will allow for a narrative story to be told through a call seeker’s written responses. “The technology in the new system will also allow for greater matching criteria that will ultimately limit the number of Personal Information Forms (PIFs) that a search committee receives,” she added. “It will also ensure that referred PIFs are more compatible to the leadership needs of the church.”
Among the system’s new features, search committees will now have the ability to listen to sermons and review lesson plans prior to interviewing potential candidates. Using these features will save committees both time and money in their search process.
Because the forms previously used by CLC will not transfer to the new system, all calling organizations and call seekers who are currently in the search process have been advised by the CLC staff to complete their new PIFs and Ministry Information Forms (MIFs)—formerly known as Church Information Forms (CIFs)—as soon as possible.
“Our team is excited about the changes and the ways they will benefit the church,” said Ashley.
For more information on the revised CLC system—including online tutorials designed to help users navigate the new system—visit the CLC website.