Pastoral Changes & Churches in Transition
Vocational Discernment and Connection in MCC
Connecting pastoral leaders with ministry opportunities is a priority shared by the offices of Vocational Leadership and Church Support & development. These offices engage regularly in intentional collaboration in support of vocational discernment as it relates to the change process, pastoral searches, and interim ministry appointments.
The ultimate goal is to better assist and equip local communities and pastoral leaders in making joyful and effective ministry connections.
Our Shared Values
The guiding vision for our collaboration is to foster processes of vocational discernment and connection that are experienced as:
- Nurturing: We encourage a culture of caring discernment instead of competition among pastors, pastoral candidates, churches, and across MCC structures.
- Open: We direct our efforts toward equal access to all interested, qualified candidates.
- Honest: Realities are described as well as possible about ministry opportunities; when someone is unlikely to be called, this is communicated clearly and compassionately.
- Transparent: Clear and appropriate public communication of processes, deadlines, and timelines for ministry opportunities is encouraged.
- Confidential: The identity of inquirers/applicants remains confidential and does not reflect negatively on present vocational service.
- Fair: Candidates are chosen based on experience, qualifications, fit, and call rather than demographic characteristics, personal appearance, or relational connections.
- Considerate: Attention and intention is given to various needs and perspectives of pastors, churches, communities, and the denomination.
- Just: We encourage the creation of Just Covenants (i.e. contractual agreements) that consider the needs of congregations – such as effective leadership, affordable compensation arrangements, right-sized employment expectations, etc.; and clergy – such as fair and adequate compensation, debt avoidance, respect of professional qualifications, and health/wholeness/life balance.
- Effective: Assisting or facilitating accurate, blessed, and joyful ministry connections is our goal.
Characteristics of Mutual Leadership Discernment
- Collaborative: Collaboration is our spiritual practice in action with local churches, lay leaders, clergy, and denominational staff and leaders.
- Contextual: Multiple variables characterize the reality of a situation and its highest potential; we want to explore, understand, and honor the contextual nature of each calling and ministry.
- Creative: To be discerning is to be creative in answering the call of Spirit. We are curious and open to what Church is/is becoming. We are responsive to fresh ways individuals are living out their vocations as pastoral leaders, including mindfulness of Spirit-given gifts, skills, and visions for ministry.
- Conversational: Wisdom emerges from being in conversation together, with mutuality of openness, balanced exchange, and sharing helpful information for considering ways forward.
- Inclusive: We intentionally value and equally consider pastoral leaders across the spectrum of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, ability, nationality, and theological worldview.
Our Commitment to Ministry Applicants
- We are invested in an applicant’s long-term, successful ministry.
- We desire to support calls that cultivate connection, meaning, and success; and decrease vocational attrition.
- We value and support holistic wellbeing.
- We encourage ongoing specialized training to support one’s calling as needed and possible.
- We support the exploration of multiple ministry opportunities, trusting applicants in vocational discernment to do so responsibly.
Our Commitment to Congregations
- We remain rooted in and responsive to the wisdom and needs of local congregations.
- We work collaboratively with local church leaders in pastoral search processes, appointments, and leadership authorization.
- We partner to actively promote local ministry opportunities through denominational communications, including webpages and social media platforms.
Steps for Churches in Transition
Click the button below to visit the Pastoral Change Steps page and learn more about the specific steps a church should take to ensure a healthy transition from one pastor to another.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of pastoral positions/appointments exist in MCC?
Gap Pastor: Is appointed by Vocational Leadership Coordinator in consultation with the Church Support and Development Coordinator and the local Board of Directors for a term of typically three months, which is eligible for extension to meet the needs of the congregation. This individual has the experience, training, skills and gifts for providing an immediate stabilizing pastoral presence, navigating the emotions of change, and leading a church in discerning and preparing for their next steps.
Interim Pastor: Is appointed by Vocational Leadership Coordinator in consultation with the Church Support and Development Coordinator and the local Board of Directors for a term of 12-24 months. This individual has the experience, training, skills, and gifts to lead a church through the interim process with the ultimate goal of completing a successful pastoral search. Interim Pastors are ineligible to be considered for the position of Settled Pastor.
Provisional Pastor: is a specific type of Interim Pastor, appointed by Vocational Leadership Coordinator in consultation with the Church Support and Development Coordinator and the local Board of Directors for a term of 12-24 months. This individual has the experience, training, skills, and gifts to lead a church through the interim process with the ultimate goal of completing a successful pastoral search. Unlike Interim Pastors, Provisional Pastors are eligible to be considered for the position of Settled Pastor.
Settled Pastor: is a UFMCC ordained clergy person*, elected by the congregation in accordance with the UFMCC and local church bylaws.
* UFMCC bylaws and Clergy Manual state that MCC churches are led by MCC ordained clergy or approved laity. For individuals not ordained by MCC and/or ordained by another body the right, privilege, license to practice ministry in MCC is granted by the Office of Vocational Leadership.
Who is responsible for compensating interim pastoral leaders?
Compensation for all pastoral leadership positions is the financial responsibility of the church. Full and part time pastoral compensation is negotiated by the Board of Directors and the pastor and is determined by the church budget, equitable compensation guidelines, and UFMCC’s Core Values (Inclusion, Community, Spiritual Transformation, and Justice). UFMCC staff are available to support the contract negotiation process.
Is MCC’s search/call process moving toward appointment (ecclesiastical) rather than call (congregational)?
No. The search and call process for settled pastors is completely in place and is greatly respected as an essential tenant of a congregational system. However, MCC utilizes the appointment system for placing Interim Pastors.
How are decisions made about whether a church in a season of change appoints an interim Pastor or not?
MCC VLC and CS&DC engage the Board of Directors in partnering to do an assessment shortly before or following the outgoing pastor’s departure. Based on the findings of this collaborative assessment, a decision is made about what the church most needs in the transition time, the type of interim leadership that will be most helpful, and plans for next steps are put in place.
Are pastoral searches open to all to apply?
In short, yes, as long as an applicant meets UFMCC criteria for ordination and licensing or Standing By Call designation if non-MCC. The encouraged method for pastoral search is the “open” method in which all applications are sent directly to local search committees for discernment. Occasionally, a local church may choose to do a search differently, but the “open” search is our standard and is highly encouraged in our Pastoral Search Manual.
How does the denomination become involved in pastoral changes?
By invitation. The denomination, typically through the Office of Vocational Leadership and Church Support and Development, offers assistance to congregations in pastoral change when there is an invitation by the Board or the Pastor who is leaving.