Calling a Sole/Senior Pastor

A Manual for Congregations Engaged in the Call Process

A Note from the President | A Word to Lay Leaders | The Call Manual

A Note from the President

A regular agenda item at every meeting of the District President and Circuit Visitors is the process by which congregations elect a pastor through the Holy Spirit’s leading. Our purpose in giving this matter so much attention is to make it a process through which congregations can lay hold of God’s vision for their mission in their context and call the pastor whom the Lord has selected to lead them.

This manual is one more attempt to live up to that opportunity. In the next pages you will find resources in the following areas:

  • Understanding the Pastoral Vacancy Support System – Section I
  • Enriching Your Understanding of the Pastoral Call and the Relationship between Pastor and People – Section II
  • Understanding the Process of Calling of a Pastor – Section III
  • Understanding Terms That You Will Hear and Use – Section IV
  • Multiple appendices that provide additional information, samples of various related materials, and more

This Call manual is updated periodically – the latest version is available online from the Michigan District website here (see below). You’ll also see that many of the samples and other information in the Appendices points to the online repository. This enables us to continue to make good resources available and accessible.

Because we have committed ourselves to making the calling process an opportunity rather than a burden, feel free to share any suggestions you have. As your District President, I will appreciate hearing from you.

Rev. David A. Davis
Michigan District, LCMS


A Word to Congregational Lay Leaders

What an exciting and vital venture lies ahead of you! Few actions of a congregation impact its future direction and viability more extensively than the calling of a pastor.

Those of you who provide leadership to the congregation’s calling a pastor know how challenging and potentially complicated this task is. Often, there are diverse, even competing, ideas of the type of pastor who would be best for the congregation. Plus, there is the haunting question of how long the process might take.

Still, the venture you are embarking on is full of splendid opportunities. There is much to learn about your church body (local, district, and national Synod), about the people who will consult with you, about the wonderful pastors serving the Lord and His Church, and those fellow members who will serve with you on the group that guides the Call process.

One thing is sure. The calling of your pastor will necessitate extensive patience, a commitment to thoroughness and shared responsibility, ongoing collaboration, and a keen capacity to listen. You have been given a special responsibility in your congregation’s life, and it deserves the best that you have to offer.

As you continue to convene, we urge you to commit yourself to four practices:

  1. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout the process;
  2. Communicate openly and regularly with others within the congregation and district;
  3. Remember to pray unceasingly for all who are involved and impacted by your actions;
  4. Remain vigilant for the congregation’s interests and the pastor you aspire to add to the congregation’s staff.

Finally, in all that you do and say, we commend to your thoughtful reflection the words St. Paul shared with fellow believers at Philippi …

“… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:2–4).


THE CALL MANUAL – pdf files

The Call Manual – Entire Document

Chart 1 – Estimated Timeline for Calling a Pastor

Appendix A – Sample Vacancy Pastor Agreement

Appendix B – Call Process Checklist

Appendix C – Sample Resolution to Establish a Call Process

Appendix D – Forming Your Call Committee

Appendix E – A Self-Study Tool for Congregations

Appendix F – Important Notes on Assistant/Associate Pastors

Appendix G – Sample Instructions for Nominations

Appendix H – Pastoral Candidate Nomination Form

Appendix I – Summary List of Candidates

Appendix J – Email First Contact with Potential Pastoral Candidates

Appendix K – Email with Information Packet for Interviews

Appendix L – Evaluating the Candidates

Appendix M – Pre-Call Interviews

Appendix N – On-Site Visits

Appendix O – Prayerfully Evaluating Candidates

Appendix P –  Call Documents

Appendix Q – Checklist

Appendix R – Tools to Prepare for the Call Meeting

Appendix S – Pastor-Elect Site Visit

Appendix T – Sample Call Worship Services

Appendix U – For Pastors: Communicating You Received a Call

Appendix V – Sample Installation/Ordination Services

Appendix W – Building a Relationship Between a Pastor and Congregation