Thursday, January 14, 2021

Maybe the Coolest Church Job Posting Ever

Over the years I have applied to a number of jobs: college chaplains (only offered one interview), pastor at a Unitarian Church with Anglican liturgy (I actually applied twice, after they rejected my first submission I offered that they needed to reconsider me.  they did and rejected my second offer too), seminary president (I used the same line pastoral search committees use, "A young president {pastor} will bring in young students {families}.  they didn't hire me either).  Over the years I was offered some interesting jobs: staff member for Rep.  Louise Slaughter, union organizer for the AFL-CIO of Virginia, chef, gardener, and even denominational office of a denomination I'm not even a member of.  But the position of pastor of an American Baptist church has always been my calling.  It is where I am rooted, planted and having fun.  

Nevertheless, I gotta tell I found the greatest job description in my life the other day.  

Director of Faith and Neighboring Practices for the Minneapolis ELCA Synod.  I have no interest in applying, but my enthusiasm for this position is off the charts. I cannot wait to see who they hire and the work this person does.  It is like someone read my book then created a job description (sans all the Lutheran language).  

I'm including the full job description for you to peruse. I say apply even if the application deadline has expired.  What's the worst response? Sorry the deadline for applications has passed.  Come on, I've received hundreds of those.  My only critique of this position is that it is a synod level position.  I don't see why pastors couldn't restructure the way they do their work so they could incorporate many aspects of this description into their practices.  How would I suggest you do this?  Well, you'll have to read my book 😉

Position title: Director of Faith and Neighboring Practices (Thriving Congregations grant 2021-2025)

OrganizationMinneapolis Area Synod 

The Minneapolis Area Synod works together so that all experience gracious invitation into life-giving Christian community and live in just and healthy neighborhoods.

Position Description:

Thanks to a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, the Director of Faith and Neighboring Practices will coach three cohorts of five congregations for two two-year cycles (2021-2023; 2023-2025) on faith and neighboring practices. The goal is to increase the vitality of the congregation through a deeper connection to God and a better understanding how God is already at work in the communities surrounding the congregation. The director will engage these congregations as a coach/facilitator to provide resourcing accountability, and will work with synod staff to expand the impact of these cohorts throughout the synod and beyond. The director will manage this initiative. This person will be grounded in both spiritually-centered faith practices and faith-based community organizing methodology. Building a deep understanding of and commitment to culture change within congregations in the areas of faith and neighboring practices will be a sign of success.

The job description of the Director of Faith and Neighboring Practices includes the following responsibilities:

Proven ability to practice and teach faith formation

  • To articulate one’s own faith practices, as well as a knowledge of a variety of spiritual-based formation perspectives
  • To introduce or expand life-long faith formation practices for participants
  • To move religious experience of cohort participants beyond personal therapy and moralizing using the gift of Lutheran theology
  • To expand faith-at-home practices within congregations
  • To support participants in discernment about congregational culture change
  • To train participants to share faith-formation practices with other leaders in their congregation and community
  • To encourage, equip, and engage congregants in exercising their faith/spiritual commitments
  • To build a network of spiritual directors and faith-formation specialists to serve as resources for the cohorts
  • To coordinate a team of spiritual mentors available to participating congregations
  • To gather and share tools and resources for spiritual growth
  • To equip cohort participants to coach and train church councils and other committees within participating congregations on the learnings of the cohort

Proven ability to engage communities in the public square and to teach faith-based organizing methodology, including on issues of racial equity 

  • To support the identification, recruitment, training, and development of leaders in the congregation and community
  • To work strategically with leaders and congregations to bring about social change and public engagement
  • To oversee the process of shaping a racial equity lens for participants in the cohort
  • To train leaders in the assessment of assets, problems, and solutions within their community
  • To develop a culture of intentional communication through 1-on-1 conversations in search of common ground and shared passion
  • To sharpen the skills of asset mapping and power analysis
  • To encourage the spiritual and organizing practice of listening to people in the neighborhood
  • To expand the imagination of congregational leaders and members in their relationship to the surrounding community
  • To prepare and follow a leadership development plan for at least one person in each congregational group
  • To gather and share tools, such as the Intercultural Development Inventory and the Congregational Vitality Survey, for community engagement
  • To train participants how to share faith-based organizing methodology with other leaders in their congregation and community

Demonstrated ability and experience to direct this effort 

  • To articulate a deep understanding of the nature and culture of Christian congregations
  • To commit to recognize, encourage, and challenge organizations so that they might thrive by living into their mission
  • To hold cohorts accountable for the essential between-meetings work
  • To coordinate with institutional partners such as the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University, Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement, 1517 Media, Luther Seminary, and others
  • To coordinate a team of resource people or consultants who will evaluate the outcomes of the program
  • To identify and recruit like-sized, like-geographic, like-missioned congregations to participate in cohort groups
  • To deepen intentionally the existing relationship between the Minneapolis Area Synod and the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Minnesota. Specifically, to work with AME leaders to identify and recruit AME congregations to participate in the cohort groups
  • To train leaders to explore, develop, and share their faith and neighboring practices with others, so they can coach and teach others
  • To produce content for online and print materials to support the synod’s commitment to faith and neighboring practices
  • To stay within the financial bounds of the Thriving Congregations grant and report updates to the Lilly Endowment
  • To work with a support staff person to plan successful and innovative events, including monthly meetings, annual retreats, and program summits
  • To create a development plan for the faith and neighboring practice work to continue after the Thriving Congregations grant is exhausted

Participate as a team member on the synod staff  

  • To serve faithfully and with competence in representing the Bishop and the Synod Office
  • To participate and offer leadership in building a framework regarding faith and neighboring practices within the synod
  • To visibly connect a life of faith and neighboring practices for the synod, including struggles arising from structural oppression, such as racism, classism, and environmental devastation
  • To support the on-going cultural competency work of the synod
  • To participate in various staff meetings as assigned

Success for the Director of Faith and Neighboring Practices would be guiding congregations to thrive by accompanying a diverse group of congregations engaging in faith and neighboring practices.

The Director of Faith and Neighboring Practices will oversee a part-time administrative assistant and will report directly to the Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership, Pastor John Hulden. Salary (with excellent benefits) will be determined based on experience and the funding limits of the Lilly Endowment grant. A bachelor’s degree is encouraged but not required. Some funds are available to cover relocation expenses.

Submit your resume, cover letter, and three references to Pastor John Hulden,, by January 4, 2021.

The  Minneapolis Area Synod is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from people who represent the many diverse voices in our synod and state: people of color, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and women.

Status: Full time

Application deadline: January 4, 2021

Contact person: Pastor John Hulden at

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