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Conflict to Collaboration

Clergy Search Resource

Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls


  • Theological Perspective of the Search Process
  • Overview of Appreciative Inquiry
  • Designing a Transitional Ministry to Support the Search.
  • Conducting a Congregational
    Appreciative Inquiry Summit
  • Developing Job Requirements
  • Evaluating Supplemental Written Questions
  • Evaluating a Structured Interview
  • Checking References and Past Performance
  • Assessing Work Samples Such as Preaching and Celebrating
  • Discernment; Vestry Interviewing and Simulated Vestry Retreat Exercises

What Clients Say

Rob Voyle was invaluable to making our search process a success. He led the committee members in Appreciative Inquiry exercises to build up the relationships of the team members and to begin to articulate some common understandings of the core values of our diocese.

Rob coached us to keep a clear perspective of what we had discerned as the skills and gifts necessary for our next bishop and to let this guide our work. He was also at the other end of the telephone or email when specific issues came up that would be helped by his experience and knowledge.

Joanna Shreve, Co-Chair Diocese of El Camino Real Bishop Search Committee

Rob's combination of organizational savvy, teaching skills, theological & spiritual integration, and ability to rapidly build supportive, learning communities is quite simply the best in any of the churches today.
Gray Temple, Episcopal Priest, Author & Coach

Rob will enhance your ability to delight in yourself, your neighbor and God through his insightful, practical, loving, professionally grounded, appreciative and often mischievous coaching and teaching skills; and that will make you a better leader and citizen in God's creation.
Ed Leidel, Episcopal Bishop and Congregational Coach serving North America

Restoring Hope

Restoring Hope

Practical Appreciative Inquiry based strategies to effectively resolve grief and resentment.

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Internet Based
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Search Consultant Training

Our webinar programs provide:

       Check Schedule and Register for Webinar 

Training Schedule: Clergy Search Consultant Training

No Clergy Search Consultant Training webinars are scheduled at this time.

Please see training schedule for a complete listing of all webinar programs

Search Consultant Training

This program is based on the comprehensive 380 page Clergy Search Manual Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls by Rob and Kim Voyle which is their Appreciative Inquiry based approach to the Clergy Search Process.

No Pre-Requisite Training: However prior attendance in the Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry (either in-person 2.5 day or online program) would be helpful.

Appreciative Search Strategies

The Appreciative Way suggests that we need to focus our search strategies on:

  • What are we as a congregation like at our best and where is our best taking us?
  • What do we want to become as a parish?

Once these questions are answered then the focus can turn to the candidates.

  • What are the candidates like at their best?
  • Can we as a congregation provide a context for the pastor to be at their best?
  • Can the pastor provide a context for the congregation to be at their best?
  • Can we together, congregation and pastor, mutually discover God's presence and purpose?

Behind these questions is the idea that effective ministry occurs when clergy and congregations create a context that calls forth the best from each other, and within that best to discover the mystery of God's presence, purpose and calling.

This appreciative approach contrasts many search processes which ultimately get decided on whether or not each party can tolerate the worst that the other has done and is likely to do. The appreciative approach does not gloss over these problems or flaws but goes beyond them to discern if a positive foundation can be identified to establish a productive ministry relationship.

Assessment Center Processes

In the secular world of personnel selection Assessment Centers have proven to provide superior information when hiring employees. At the heart of the assessment center approach is a reliance on observing candidates perform specific tasks and simulated work experiences rather than simply relying on traditional approaches such as interviewing or references.

For 30 years Kim has utilized Assessment Center technology for hiring and promotion of managerial and director- level positions, including Fire Chiefs. It was through Kim's experience of developing or managerial assessment centers that she created an assessment center approach to the clergy search process. She has applied this content-valid approach to the Clergy Search process and co-authored Assessing Skills and Discerniong Calls. Exercises such as the "Simmulated Church Board Retreat" form a significant part of both Assessing Candidate Skills and providing information on which to base the Discernment of a Call

Theological Perspective On the Search Process

We used the Biblical Model for the calling of Mathias (Acts 1:21-26) in developing Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls. When the Apostles needed to replace Judas they used a four step process:

  • They understood they had a purpose or mission to fulfill.
  • They set criteria for effective job performance.
  • They assessed potential candidates with respect to the criteria.
  • From a list of qualified candidates, discern who God is calling to the position.

These four steps are crucial for effective clergy calling. In our experience difficulties in the search process arise primarily for three reasons:

  • The congregation has little idea of its purpose and what it wants to become.
  • No clear search criteria are agreed upon so the search committee members are simply looking for their individual ideal pastor without regard for the whole.
  • The tasks of assessing skills and discerning calls is confused. Assessing competence is an essential prerequisite to engaging in discernment.
    It is impossible to effectively engage in discernment when some of the candidates being discerned over do not match the requisite criteria.

Course Schedule

Course Work: 1.5 hours of recorded online class that is completed prior to the tutorial.
The material is presented online and can be accessed at anytime during the program

Tutorial: Conference call for just-in-time consultation and group exercises.

  Weekly Teleconference for 10 weeks: Check Webinar Schedule for the specific times and dates.>

Course Outline

Week 1: Introduction to the Appreciative Way of Understanding Clergy Search Processes.
  The Appreciative Way.
  Overview of Search Process.

Week 2: How Are You Going to Search?
  Assessing a congregation's needs and resources to conduct a search.
  Designing the search process.

Week 3: Conducting an Appreciative Inquiry Summit to Establish Search Criteria.
  The power of great questions.
  Strategies for story telling.
  Why we don't use surveys.

Week 4: Creating a Profile, Setting the Criteria.
  Converting vision and values into search criteria.
  The power of acceptance to transform lives
  Creating a draft contract.

Week 5: Assessing Skills.
  Designing a candidate visitation.
  Strategies to assess specific competencies.
  Going beyond interviewing to behavioral assessment.

Week 6: The Science and Art of Interviewing.
  Converting values to interview questions.
  Converting strategic vision into interview questions.
  Interviewing for behavioral competency rather than philosophical outlook.

Week 7: Discerning a Call.
  Distinguishing discernment from assessment
  Vestry/Church Board simulation to gather discernment information.
  Issuing a Call.

Week 8: Designing the Transition.
  Completing the contract.
  Taking care of logistics.
  Welcoming the new clergy person and their family.

Week 9: Personal Projects
  Tutorial time to focus on participants implementation of their search projects.

Week 10: Personal Projects Continued
  Tutorial time to focus on participants implementation of their search projects.

 Register for the Search Consultant Webinar 

Continuing Education Credit

This program qualifies for 25 contact hours of continuing education credit.

>>   Continuing Education Programs

Who Should Attend This Program

This program is designed for church leaders and consultants engaged in assisting congregations in their search processes. It would be appropriate for:

  • Clergy engaged in interim ministry.
  • Psychologists, Consultants and Counselors
    who are also clergy or who work with clergy and churches.
  • Congregational Search Consultants

Cost and Cancellation

Complete Tuition cost: $495 payable prior to Week 1.
Cancellation with a 15% cancellation fee may be made prior to the first week and the receipt of personal passwords.
No refunds are available after receipt of the passwords and access to the online material.

 Register for the Search Consultant Webinar