September 2017 E-news from the Siburt Institute

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Partnering With Churches and Ministers to Discern God’s Call

On any given day the Siburt Institute works with about 75 churches looking for a minister. That number is in addition to the congregations using our automated MinistryLink network service. And twice a month an eight-member team meets to review requests from search committees for names and resumes.

The Looking Team reviews information about the church and considers the job description from its search committee. Then the deliberation and discernment begins. Who on our lists of ministers might be open to a new call? Who do we know who might be a fit for this congregation? Usually our team is able to identify several names to send to a search committee for their consideration.

However, in all of that process we are aware of several important principles we hold very dearly:

  1. Confidentiality. Collectively, the Looking Team knows hundreds of ministers. We know how critical it is for a minister’s credibility and capacity to serve that any interest the minister might have in leaving his or her present ministry be kept “under wraps.”

  2. Discernment. Our team spends countless hours in conversations with ministers. We are sensitive to pay attention to their call to a particular congregation. The last thing we want to do is create a distraction for someone doing a good work, so we work hard at listening well to ministers. In our conversations, we may encourage one to stay put and continue the ministry at hand.

  3. Respect. Being called to congregational ministry is a tough task, and coming to the end of a season with a congregation can be extremely challenging. How do you look for a new “job” and not offend your current church? It is exceedingly difficult. So, as a “best practice,” we encourage churches searching for a new minister to take the initiative to contact a prospective one – not the other way around. It makes it much easier for a minister to receive an invitation to consider a new work than to initiate such a conversation.

  4. Counsel. One of the things that makes ministry a difficult life is the potential isolation ministers face. To respond to that challenge, the Siburt Institute is committed to walk alongside them throughout their ministerial calling. It is one of the reasons why the institute and the Looking Team volunteer their time and wisdom to be in conversation with ministers about vocational matters. It is a role that we and our partners are uniquely positioned to do.

Whether you are a minister wrestling with the question of whether it is time to go, or you are a church leader and faced with questions of ministerial transition, reach out to the Siburt Institute. Our calling is to assist you in your calling to serve the people of God well!


The Looking Team at work: (from left) Robert Oglesby, Dr. Royce Money, Curtis King, Dr. Carson Reed, Randy Harris and Dr. Tim Sensing (Not pictured: Dr. Brady Bryce, Dr. Jerry Taylor)


Dr. Janine Morgan delivers a keynote address for conference of Italian Churches of Christ

In early September, Dr. Janine Morgan served as a plenary speaker at the annual conference of the Italian Churches of Christ. The conference, held in Florence and entitled “Firenze 2017: Reformation and Restoration,” celebrated the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Morgan, an instructor in ACU’s Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry, spoke on the 19th-century American Restoration Movement. Her historian husband, Dr. Ron Morgan, joined her to address the historical development of the Stone-Campbell Movement, while she focused on the theological implications of the movement. “One of the great blessings of the conference was the chorus, Laeta Corda, from the Aprilia church, that sang stunningly beautiful, era-appropriate songs throughout the conference,” she said.

The loneliest number

Ministry can be isolating, as Justin Simmons, minister at the Glenmora (Louisiana) Church of Christ, writes in his latest CHARIS article. Simmons looks to the book of Jeremiah, first identifying with the prophet’s lament, then finding correction and comfort in God’s words to Jeremiah. If you find this post meaningful, you also may appreciate All Alone: A Reflection on Jacob by Kelly Edmiston and The Discipline of Friendship by Daniel McGraw.

Ministers’ Lunch Hour with Randy Harris video available online

Randy Harris gave those gathered at the Aug. 29 Ministers’ Lunch Hour plenty to think about as he tackled the subject, “Does the Church Matter?” He walked the audience through a number of trends and corresponding implications for churches in North America. He also reminded the audience of the positive impact churches have on society and the vital role they play in rebuilding communities after devastating disasters.

A video of his presentation is now available online. Harris serves as an instructor in ACU’s Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry, and as spiritual director for the College of Biblical Studies and the Siburt Institute.

Last call to participate in survey on minister effectiveness

As Dr. Brady Bryce prepares to conclude the data collection phase of a national research study on what makes for an effective minister, you are invited to weigh in on the subject. A preacher’s kid, former full-time preacher and current ACU professor, Bryce developed this 20-question survey to assist churches in gaining greater clarity on expectations of ministers and potentially improve minister formation and preparation. Click here to take the survey by Sept. 30, 2017.

Hats off to the Summit 2017 team

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Summit director David Wray, administrative coordinator Mandy Scudder and the entire Summit team for a job well done. The event was well-planned and received! Please join us next year for Summit 2018, slated for Sept. 16-19. The theme will be Wholeness in a Broken World: Together Through the Power of the Spirit.

The Summit Team: (from left): Dr. Darryl Tippens, Roland Orr, David Wray,
Mandy Scudder and Judy Siburt



“We must learn to see the world as God sees it. We must see the face of Jesus in people we don’t like. We must learn to reach out to people we feel uncomfortable around. To see the world as God sees it is to be both overwhelmed with the beauty and mystery of what God has created and also to be heartbroken for the ways in which God’s children have lashed out at God, at creation, and at each other. To see others as God sees them is to want to reach out in love and to help.” – Dr. M.S. Bickford, Everyone Dies, But Not Everyone Lives

“You can never achieve great leadership without effective delegation. By delegation, you will increase the job commitment of others by spreading your task effectively over a broader base. As others feel more responsible for the work, they begin to care about the outcome. But in order to build true team spirit, you must delegate accountability and glory as well as responsibility.” – Dr. Calvin Miller, The Empowered Leader

The Siburt Institute for Church Ministry exists to offer resources and best practices for leading congregational communities in pursuit of God’s mission in the world and to provide avenues for the spiritual formation of Christian leaders.

For more information, visit or contact associate director Curtis King by email at or by phone at 325-674-3722 or 877-831-5413.

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