Local Churches are at a crossroads.
Endless opportunities exist for United Church of Christ congregations in Northern California and Nevada. No matter the size of membership, worship attendance, or financial capacity, the Holy Spirit is Equipping, Encouraging, and Empowering vital ministry in communities across our Conference.
And yet, the pandemic has accelerated the reality that patterns and structures of ministry must adapt to our present realities. The capacity for transformation is more difficult to measure. Crucial decisions must not be deferred to some later, “better” time.
While few enjoy considering their own mortality, every living thing will eventually die, including congregations. Our sacred story in the New Testament Epistles are of letters written to churches that no longer exist.
This points to the amazing legacy of congregations. It is essential for churches to consider their “end-of-life plan,” just as church members do the same in their own, personal estate planning.
The landscape of Search & Call is unrecognizable.
For more than 20 years, the data has been informing us that retirements in 2010 and later will exceed the rate of new clergy authorized in the UCC. Our Conference is blessed by the presence of multiple seminaries, including Pacific School of Religion, and so we have been insulated by some of this impact.
Since 2020 in NCNC-UCC, we have noted the following:
- The number of clergy searching for positions has dramatically diminished. Some positions are receiving fewer than three applicants in nearly 12 months of searching when once they could have expected dozens in weeks. This is the reality no matter the time of the position (full/part), size of church, or geographic location.
- Searching clergy are more likely to pass over churches that haven’t done hard work. Waiting for a new pastor to take a bigger risk than the church is willing to take doesn’t cut it anymore. Churches that can demonstrate their capacity for change and transformation, own their vulnerabilities, and are willing to risk everything for the sake of the Holy Spirit’s movement in their community are the ones well-positioned in the new Search & Call landscape.
- More churches are acknowledging unsustainable challenges for their ministry, and the existential risk of “the way we’ve always done it.” Curiosity about shared ministry structures and land redevelopment is on the rise. These kinds of arrangements require capital investment to tend to complex requirements and compliance issues.
Let’s Equip, Encourage, and Empower Local Churches.
NCNC-UCC is uniquely positioned to resource Local Churches engaged in Search & Call to be competitive, attractive, healthy centers for ministry. Your donations to the Equip. Encourage. Empower. campaign directly support our churches to:
- Engage in 50 hours of threshold coaching with a trained and certified coach. This includes resourcing on diverse ministry models, opportunities to leverage social and financial capital for mission impact, and legacy planning relevant to the church’s current life stage. The outcome of this coaching is direct, lasting impact in strengthening the church’s missional and decision-making structure to boldly enter a new chapter of ministry with the confidence of empowered leadership.
- Receive a matching grant of $1,000 toward professional services. This resources the church’s identified needs with seed money toward healthy transformation. For example, a church could choose to work with an HR expert to set up a shared professional ministry structure with another congregation, or secure necessary legal advice for spinning off a community benefit entrepreneurial organization. Whatever the need, NCNC-UCC will provide a dollar-for-dollar matching grant, up to $1,000, to secure appropriate professional resourcing.
In our efforts, we will become the ministry environment of choice for ministry professionals in the United Church of Christ. Against a narrative of scarcity, fear, and anxiety, we will demonstrate an unwavering posture of abundance, possibility, health, and vitality.
Your financial gifts make this campaign a success.
We’re raising $10,000 by Annual Gathering in order to equip five Local Churches in their Search & Call efforts. And we’re doing it with immediate impact. Your donation won’t sit idle for long. As funds are raised, we’re sending our coaches and grant applications out the door. We aren’t just identifying the need for nimble, flexible leadership: we’re committed to practicing it ourselves.
Won’t you join us and make a donation today?
- $250 provides 10 hours of threshold coaching.
- $175 enables an Associate Conference Minister to skillfully assess the Local Church’s needs and pair them with the best coach for their situation.
- $125 ensures that a professional consultant is available to review personnel manuals and processes of oversight for a pastor shared between two different congregations.
- Your gift of any amount is an investment in the church of the future, building on the strong shoulders of faithful people past and present in the Northern California Nevada Conference.