Perceptions of the Pastoral Selection Process in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia and New Zealand
This research seeks to identify the perceptions of the pastoral selection process in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia and New Zealand. Specifically, it seeks to gather perceptions of church members as they relate to the strengths and weaknesses of the current system. Who has the most influence in the pastoral selection process? How the concept of the "call" to ministry relates to the process? Whether or not there is enough information available to the process and what criteria are used in making selection decisions?
The research is constructed from an analysis of the current general HRM selection literature and the limited pastoral selection literature. A three-part survey instrument (see appendix one) was completed by eighty-nine respondents from Australia and New Zealand.
The strengths of the current system are seen as its independence from the pressure groups of the local church, yet with meaningful dialogue between local churches (where it occurs). The perceived weaknesses lie in the lack of information available to the process and the perceived heavy reliance upon second-hand information upon which selection decisions are based.
Respondents indicated their perception that more consultation, more dialogue, more information to inform the process and more effort to match pastors with congregations would seriously improve the current process. Tradition, the politics of control, time limitations and resistance by pastors were cited as perceived barriers to these changes actually occurring.
The comparison of the pastoral selection process with current HR practice revealed little congruence. Generally pastoral selection is not perceived as being done strategically and the general lack of quality information to inform the process means that selection based on competency or harmonisation is not possible.
Perceptions of influence reveal that Conference Administration and Executive Committees are seen as having the most influence in the pastoral selection process.
The influence of Union and Division is the factor most susceptible to demographic variance. Respondents who have been church members between 21 and 30 years, or who are female, or who have been denominationally employed in the past, or who have been Executive Committee members in the past, or who have been Conference Administrators in the past are more likely to perceive that the Union and Division have greater influence in the selection process than do the other groups within each demographic category.
Recommendations coming out of the study include having all pastors maintaining a current CV accessible to prospective employers, intentional and formal information sharing between local churches and their Conference on at least an annual basis relative to their situation and needs, annual appraisals for pastors, a centralised and strategic view of staffing at a national level, the advertising of pastoral vacancies and occasional joint-staffing between Conferences to introduce new personnel into their team.