Step seven: Commissioning Service for the PNC

Step seven: Commissioning Service for the PNC

An outline for a Pastor Nominating Committee/PNC commissioning in a worship service:

  • elected members of the Pastor Nominating Committee stand in the front of the sanctuary for commissioning,
  • litany and prayer led by the interim pastor,

Step five: Elect Thoughtful People to Serve on the PNC

Step five: Elect Thoughtful People to Serve on the PNC

When considering the best combination of potential leaders to serve on the Pastor Nominating Committee, consider their ability to thoughtfully answer these questions.

Step Four: Host a Pre-PNC Gathering

Step Four: Host a Pre-PNC Gathering

A pre-PNC gathering is an event hosted by the session (or nominating body) for members interested in learning about the role of  serving on a Pastor Nominating Committee.

Recommended event guidelines:

Step three: Seek Recommendations for PNC

Step three: Seek Recommendations for PNC

Once the criteria for serving on the Pastor Nominating have established by the nominating body it's time to seek recommendations of individuals to serve on the PNC.  Inviting the congregation to make recommendations helps members feel engaged in the process of calling their next pastor. Here's a possible format:

The session is seeking recommendations of individuals to serve in the Pastor Nominating Committee. Here are the criteria:

Step one: Conduct a Mission Study

Step one: Conduct a Mission Study

When a congregation is ready to begin a pastor calling process the first step is often to conduct a church mission study. Ideallymission studies help congregations have conversations about:

    7 Things to Talk About with the Interim Pastor Search Committee

    Candidates: as you consider signing a contract to serve as an interim pastor take time to consider the role you are being asked to play in these areas of oversight. Ask to speak with the most knowledgeable leader in each area. Take notes.

    1. Administration: analyze the church website and social media. Is it adequate to meet the needs of a pastor search? If not, estimate and share the anticipated cost of updating. Understand the type of office and technology available to support your work.
    2. Buildings and Grounds: tour the church campus. Ask the leader about ‘aging’ issues, upcoming projects (such as updating handicap accessibility), and the adequacy of resources to address these needs.
    3. Discipleship/Christian Education: find out how the church seeks to mature disciples in Christ – mentorship, classes, new members, youth confirmation, etc. Understand the teaching role you are expected to play.
    4. Finance: review the budget, balance sheet, designated funds, giving patterns, and any debt the church holds.
    5. Mission and Outreach: consider what this church is committed to in this area, and if you share missional interest and alignment.
    6. Personnel: talk with the chair of the Personnel Committee about staff culture, job descriptions, goals, and how the staff evaluation process works including your own evaluation. Ask to see an organizational chart. Discuss supervisory relationships. Rapport with this leader will be vital to your success as an interim leader.
    7. Worship: come to an understanding about the preaching and leadership tasks expected of you and others in both paid and non-paid roles. Review worship attendance patterns.

    A clear-eyed understanding of your role in these tasks is vital to your success in interim ministry. Negotiate a job description and contractual arrangement that fits your skill set, interests, and sense of call. If you sense hesitation in your spirit talk it over with someone you trust. Take your time. Trust your instincts. Listen to what comes. Practice the discernment you expect to find in the church’s Pastor Nominating Committee.

    Search Committees: your proactivity in covering these bases will help to ensure you and your final candidate are in agreement about the roles and responsibilities you are asking them to oversee.

    Blessing for a Pastor going on Sabbatical

    A Sabbatical Blessing

    Session Elder: We believe God works in the lives of those who love him, using all things for God's glory. We trust that in this sabbatical time, God will be at work in the lives of [pastor and family], and the lives of the people of this church, using all things for our good and God's glory. We entrust you and your family to God's care, for God's good works, and rich blessings.

    Pastor: During this sabbatical time, I eagerly look forward to seeing how God will be at work in the life of this congregation, in my own life, and the life of my family. And so, I entrust you, the congregation [of said church], to God's care, for God's good works, and rich blessings.

    Congregation: With joy, we will remember you in our hearts for these [many] months, praying that God will refresh you in body, renew you in mind, and refill your hearts with the depths of God's love for you.

    Pastor: With joy, I will remember you in my heart for these [many] months, praying God will bless you with creativity and fill your hearts with His love for you. And knowing the depth of that love, may you continue to bring the truth of God's work, and a demonstration of Jesus' love to people our community [in said place].

    Time of prayer for Pastor and his/her family

    Sabbatical Pastor*: Whether together or during a time apart, this church body faithfully serves our God with compassion, energy, creatively and love. Let us now, in a unified voice, offer a prayer of commitment and faith to Jesus Christ, and to the work of God in our lives and in our world.

    [In unison]:

    Almighty God, 

    Draw our hearts to you, 

    Guide our minds and fill our imaginations, 

    Control our wills, so that we may be wholly yours. 

    Use us as you will, always to your glory, and the welfare of your people, 

    Through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

    *Sabbatical Pastor is the one serving the congregation while the installed pastor is away on sabbatical.

    Day 6: Forgiveness

    Lincoln Today in the USA it is Presidents' Day. As I ponder the theological angles of forgiveness and US Presidents I am reminded of the complicated relationship Americans have with their esteemed executive leaders.

    In my childhood I recall my grandmother reveling in the Camelot years of the Kennedy's. As a teen I recall voting for Carter with the zeal of a righteous 'know-it-all'. In my early 20's I was relieved to find that my voting record did not factor into my service as an intern in the Reagan White House.  Phew! You see, 1980’s Washington had a category for what might be perceived as ‘youthful indiscretion’.  It was forgiven.

    O, how I miss the spirit of bipartisanship.

    This afternoon I read the transcript of a story from “This American Life” about the complicated and fascinating relationship between those close to President Lincoln and those close to his would-be assassin John Wilkes Booth (who stood on March 4th 1865 just a few yards away from Lincoln).

    Let's enter the story here:

    Narrator: On March 4th, 1865, more than 50,000 people gathered under rainy skies to witness Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inauguration. After four harrowing years, the end of the war was at last in sight. Lincoln stood to address the crowd, just as a brilliant ray of light pierced the clouds overhead. “Let us strive on to finish the work we are in,” Lincoln implored, “to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace”.

    David Blight, historian: There’s not even a moment of bitterness. There’s not even the slightest declaration of what will be done with Confederate leadership. It is remarkable that in a moment like that, in this country that has all but won a victory in an all-out, terrible, total civil war, and he doesn’t even spend one sentence to declare the righteousness of victory and the evil of Confederate defeat.

    Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian: What he does is to suggest that the sin of slavery was shared by both sides. His way of reaching out to the south: “Both sides read the same bible, both prayed to the same God, neithers prayers were fully answered.”

    Prayer: O gracious God who hears the prayers of all sides; forgive us our misplaced passions and indiscretions. May we seek this day in our Lenten journey to live "with malice toward none, with charity for all".  Teach us what it means to be people of forgiveness; to be those who bind up wounds. For the sake of your kingdom on earth and in heaven. Amen.

    To read the full transcript click here.

    For further reflection: Lincoln was shot on Good Friday 1865. Three days later in pulpits across America, and around the world, a message of hope and resurrection was needed on Easter Sunday.  In this context, what might you have shared about the truth of the Gospel and forgiveness?




    Philippians: God’s Story in Ours, a sermon series for Interim Ministry

    Philippians: God’s Story in Ours Philippians 3: 12-21 “Pressing Forward”

    Rev. Shari Jackson Monson

    I have a friend whose son is keen runner. At the peak of his running career, as a senior in high school, Devin and his teammates traveled to Oregon to compete in a prestigious invitational cross country meet. He had never felt better about his capacity to run a solid race. The day was glorious and the course was beautiful but unfamiliar to him. So Devin set out on a warm up jog to look around. Somewhere along the path, he took a wrong turn and missed the race. There’s more to the story but the sad truth is despite being in terrific physical shape, and eager to run, Devin missed the goal. He did not finish the race.

    Paul’s message to the church in the book of Philippians is “don’t miss the race!” As chapter three wraps up we hear Paul pleading with Christians to stay focused, run well together, and remember you run the course as citizens of heaven.

    Over the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time on the phone with church consultants. My goal has been to gain wisdom from them that might be helpful as we prepare to call Hamblen’s next pastor. Two weeks ago I spoke with William Vanderbloemen. He leads one of the nation’s top church staffing agencies. One of the most helpful practices I have gleaned from William is his advice to “Take the Long View”. To illustrate William points to Billy Graham and asks, what do you think has been the biggest accomplishment of Billy’s ministry? I thought about this a long while.

    I had the privilege in the 1980’s of watching Billy Graham up close during a conference for international itinerant evangelists held in Amsterdam. It was incredible to see the worldwide impact of this man’s ministry. I’ve been fascinated by Billy Graham ever since. Last month he turned 96. Goodness what a life. Biggest Accomplishment: was it meeting with and influencing world leaders? Preaching to stadiums packed with people? Praying at Presidential inaugurations or funerals?

    I have come to agree with William; Billy’s biggest accomplishment is the consistency of his ministry over a long period of time. Billy Graham as a stellar example of what it means to ‘Take the Long View’. He writes, “I’ve been in around ministry for a long time now. I’ve seen lots of people start well in ministry. They come out of the blocks as fast as Usain Bolt. I’ve seen a lot of people finish well. They sense the end of their career and hit the gas for a final sprint to the finish. But I have seen very few run the entire race well.”

    The key as I see it to ‘Long View’ living is to set a manageable pace for life. Churches are wise to hire pastors who model a pace of life that takes a long view. Pastors with a disciplined focus lead themselves and their teams at a healthy pace. Churches thrive under such care.

    We would all be wise to take the long view in life. Aiming to run the entire race well is a daily discipline. And the good news is each day offers a new start.

    This morning on your bulletin cover there are six blank spaces. The blanks are there as a workspace for your creative response to the sermon. Living in the present with a future focus is the essence of Christian life. Boiling this truth down to just six words is our challenge. (A word of encouragement: try this with any sermon and see what you discover).

    One option for six words related to our passage is: Take the Long View Each Day.

    Paul says something very similar in our passage when he invites Christians to look at his life and notice what he does. Not that I have arrived fully at the goal, but this one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind; pressing forward. I strain toward the heavenly call of Christ.

    How can we do this? Paul’s own life says ‘be eager about knowing Christ’ – eager in the way a kid is eager to grow up. Does it not seem as though children continually wish to be just a little bit older?

    How does this happen – how do we get good at living an eager Christian life? The first step is showing up for practice. Making it a priority the way we make it a priority for our kids and their music, sports, art, dance, voice and other lessons. Worship is showing up and taking part. Worship is an essential our whole lives long.

    After you show up for a while – and get the drills down by learning to move a ball down the field, or read the notes in a music score, or sense the rhythm in a dance, something important begins to happen – players become a team, musicians form an orchestra, dancers become a troupe, and so on. In the church this is called building community. It is an essential step in our maturity in Christ.

    In Christian community we learn to get on track and stay on track. We learn to show up and share our lives and pace ourselves. We do this in the form of small groups; collections of people who aim to be on the same course.

    In the Message Eugene Peterson translates Paul’s words in v 17-19 like this:

    Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

    This is very practical theology:

    • Stick with me and keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for the same goal.
    • Do not be fooled into thinking there is an easy path to a heavenly goal.

    One way we are pressing forward as a church is by forming Lenten small groups. For six weeks we are asking each of you to join with others and engage a study around what it means to be ‘Called’ by God. One of the premises of this study is: We do our best discernment with other followers of Jesus. A six word truth about this might best be summed up: Lean into community; hear God’s voice. As pastors we are hoping each of you will find a way to join this important church-wide conversation.Living in the present with a future focus is the essence of Christian life. Boiled down to six words Paul can be heard saying = I’m off, running, not turning back. (from The Message) Or put another way: Forgetting what is behind; pressing forward. (NRSV)What would happen if we truly lived like this? Thanks be to God we can. Our future is bright with hope – so much so that we no longer dwell on things in the past. This hope is ours because of God’s provision in sending Jesus into our world. Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live, and died the death we should have died, and rose from the grave marked for us. Because Jesus ascended into heaven our call is to live as if Christ moved heaven and earth. Because he did, and he does, and he will come again to restore it all right again. And in the meantime, the church is called to bare evidence of this once ancient, present, and future hope.

    Let’s pray, Almighty God, we are humbled that you would send your own Son Jesus Christ to secure our lives safe in you. Thank you for the Call to follow Christ in the midst of our present life. May this Call unify us to live with such hope that the world might marvel at the future you are building now among us. When things get hard remind us that the battle belongs to the Lord, to whom we give all glory and honor. AMEN.

    Sermon Reflection Questions:

    1. In what way do you live with the “Long View” in mind?
    2. What is most challenging to you about Paul’s instruction to forget what lies behind? Why is it so hard to live this way?
    3. In Luke 9:62 Jesus says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Some find an echo of Jesus’ words in our passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Do you hear it?
    4. What is your six word summary of this passage?
    5. In what way might apply the truth of this passage to your life this week?
    6. Describe how the song sung after the sermon, “The Battle Belongs to the Lord”, helps or hinders our understanding of this passage. Lyrics: Verse 1: In heavenly armor we'll enter the land; the battle belongs to the Lord. No weapon that's fashioned against us shall stand the battle belongs to the Lord. Chorus: We sing glory and honor power and strength to the Lord (repeat) Verse 2: The power of darkness comes in like a flood; the battle belongs to the Lord. He's raised up a standard, the power of His blood; the battle belongs to the Lord Verse 3: When your enemy presses in hard do not fear; the battle belongs to the Lord. Take courage my friend, your redemption is near; the battle belongs to the Lord.

    Reflection Questions for Interim Ministry:

    • Taking the long view during interim ministry is vital to personal and corporate health. In what ways is the interim pastor investing a long view? To whom are you accountable for this aspect of ministry? Consider forming a cross-disciplinary team of leaders to offer feedback.
    • If you are engaged in the interim task of raising up new leadership in this season consider how they are being formed spiritually.
    • What resources have you found most helpful in the spiritual formation of leaders? Please add your insights to the Interim Ministry Resources page.

    Living in the New Creation: a post-Easter sermon series

    Agents of God’s Mission in the New Creation First in series: Living in the New Creation

    John 20:1-29, 1 Cor. 3:5-11

    Rev. Shari Jackson Monson


    He is risen! He is risen indeed!

    The reality of Jesus resurrection took time to settle in among the disciples. The fact of an empty tomb and rumors of a risen Lord appears to have unnerved everyone. In John’s gospel the disciples are in hiding. The city of Jerusalem is in an uproar. It is a fearful time.

    Into this chaos Jesus appears announcing “peace be with you”. For those gathered on the evening on that day, the first day of the week, these were words of comfort. When Jesus repeated the blessing of peace again it came with a charge to go and to forgive. Peace, presence, and forgiveness were meant to characterize the post-resurrection followers of Christ.

    Eventually these followers of Christ, who would become known as Christians, came to describe their new reality as living in God’s New Creation. In essence the Christian concept of new creation is anchored in salvation through Jesus Christ. We call this the Gospel; the good news of reconciliation!

    The early church struggled mightily with how to live into this Gospel. Our second scripture reading today comes from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. Corinth was a city of commerce. At this time it was only about 100 years old. People came here to make a name for themselves.  Who you were associated with was everything. It appears the culture of Corinth was creeping into the church.  (read passage)

    This was a kin to partisan politics. And Paul wanted it to stop. It reminds me of the current American political landscape. As the campaign for the presidency heats the interest in who is ‘in the race’ and ‘who is undecided’ is filled with intrigue, power, and yes, lots of money. (screen shot from NY Times chart)

    Here’s the point Paul is driving home: the Gospel is big enough for me and for Apollos and others in the future to build upon. The Gospel is vast. The Gospel of Christ is good news to all people, in all contexts, for all time. Make room for its many expressions. Room enough for Paul, and Apollos, for those who plant, and water, and tend to the care of God’s people. This is not about red and blue.  There is one Gospel, one church, with one mission and many expressions of the good news of the risen Lord Jesus.

    Scripture is filled with rich images of God’s work in restoring what has been damaged or broken by sin. There is a Latin term for this: Missio Dei; literally the mission of God. The mission of God can be described as God’s initiative to be in loving relationship with creation. When humanity through sin broke that relationship God offered restoration through the Son.  Put simply the Mission of God is reconciliation between us and God and all of the created order.

    For the next 10 weeks we will be looking at what it means for us as 21 century followers of Christ to live in the New Creation. How do we live as people of peace, presence, and forgiveness. It is a complex issues best approached through listening to a variety of voices. Here is our plan: Pastor Betsey and I plan to preach on Paul’s, Peter’s, and John’s view of new creation. Pastor Brad will join the conversation preaching about new creation from an older adult point of view. Joe Bruce, Director of Children and Family Ministry will bring his wisdom to the pulpit looking at faith and science. In two weeks Rev. Rick Melin will preach on care of creation. Service and Social Concerns invites everyone to get in the game that weekend through a wide variety of activities. On Pentecost Sunday South Hill Pastor (and beloved Whitworth leader) Stephy Nobles-Beans will be with us to preach about racial reconciliation as an expression of God’s new creation.

    10 weeks, 6 voices, 1 Gospel, for 1 church – rich, poor, old, young, new member, founding member each one an agent of God’s mission in the new creation.

    One concluding thought: hear John 20:24-29 as if for the first time. (read passage) Did you hear anything new? I found something new in this story recently – Thomas was ‘with them’ (those whom Jesus had appeared to earlier) for an entire week. And what a week it was – of historic precedent. Jerusalem is in turmoil. Disciples are filled with fear of what the Jews might do. And these 11 stayed together.  The 10 who believed and one who doubted.  I find this stunning. Why? Because when you are an ‘insider’, privileged to special information, one of the ‘10’ in this instance, it is so easy to exclude the ‘other’. Is it not? Any yet they made room for Thomas to stay among them. Perhaps this is evidence they took Jesus’ words to heart – let peace, presence, and forgiveness be among you and evident to all.  This gives me hope. Early on though it would have been easy and expedient and perhaps even ‘smart’ in terms of their ‘security’ needs to leave Thomas out. He was not left out.

    And kudos to Thomas. He hung in. He stuck around. I bet that was not easy to do. Yet, there he was a week later with ‘the others’ and Jesus appears again. I bet Jesus was pleased to see the sight of them there huddled together.

    In closing Susan is going to play an instrumental piece of music for us. This time in our worship is for you to reflect on how it is with your soul.

    Sermon Reflection Questions:

    1. How has partisan spirit in the church impacted you? Have you found ways to deal with it that might be helpful for others to hear about?
    2. Is creation care a topic that interests you? Why or why not? Consider joining one of the weekend activities as a group, family, or with friends.
    3. Is there another expression of the Gospel outlined in the sermon series that sparks your interest? If you could design a response what might that look like?
    4. Have you experienced a season of doubt in your Christian life? What role did the presence of other Christians in your life play?

    Reflection Questions for Interim Ministry :

    • How might a series on Living in the New Creation be used in your ministry setting?
    • In what way do you see yourself as an agent of God’s mission in this place/call?
    • The task of raising up new leadership can be divisive. How might teaching on this passage help to avoid a partisan spirit?  What practical theology do you bring to this task?