My visits the past three weeks have been very very informative and enlightening.
It is really helping things to get to know people face to face a bit.

One surprising perception I’ve encountered several times in my conversations with people is that “there is a glut of candidates being put out by the Seminary.” I had never heard that since the days I graduated from Seminary, when there was a serious shortage still, and the rate of pastors retiring was much higher than the rate of the Seminary putting out candidates.

So I decided to go to the source to find out the facts.

In simple numbers, I found out from the Pastor-Church Relations Administrator that there are currently 60 candidates for the ministry and 80 listings of church positions open.
That is not a glut. That is more like a balance.

Here are the two relevant answers from the Pastor-Church Relations administrative person who tracks all this:

“currently about 60 candidates who are available for calls at the moment, this includes those that graduated this year (about 50 this year–11 of those have accepted calls already) and those who are still waiting from last year and even the year before. I have copied the link of the candidates available for a call here in case you wanted to see that list: http://www.crcna.org/candidacy/candidates

She also told me:
“there are about 80 churches who have no senior or sole pastor on record in their church (I get a list of those once a month from the Yearbook system). Not all of these churches are actively looking and this doesn’t include churches looking for staff positions (like associate pastors or pastors of congregational life), but that’s a rough number of “open pastoral vacancies” at this time.”

She also says that about 10 of the new candidates are in the final stages of completing a call process, meaning the number should be closer to 50 candidates available soon. Another interesting thing she said is “the rate they accept calls has slowed down over the years I’ve worked here and I don’t know why that is.”

From what I know, often a spouse’s situation affects the candidates ability to take a call (they may want to stay in Michigan or only be near some other place). I have known of a couple of situations where the spouse is completing a degree of their own, so they can’t move until that is done. Also, people are specializing more and more in specific types of ministry, or in particular cultures, so are limited in that way. And, there are some every year who do not really have the gifts to be well rounded pastors in a congregation, and so they languish without a call for the required two years and then have to think again…

So, there you have the facts. There still is no glut of pastors.

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