Pastoral Ministry  Evaluations  Transitions  Relationship

Candidate Process

Step 1: Make Intention Known

Begin by making your intent known to your church leadership minister. It is advisable register your intent at least six to eight months in advance of the time a place of service is desired.   

The church leadership minister and/or regional minister are your best allies in searching for a placement; you have an advocate who knows the congregation. Hard, honest questions can be asked of a church leadership minister or regional minister without compromising your first impression of the search committee.  

The most reliable contacts with you as a candidate will come from the church leadership minister or regional minister. If contacted first by a congregational leader, we strongly recommend that you ask whether the congregation is working with their regional church office.  

Step 2: Discernment

Choose the option below that best applies to you:  

  1. You are new to the Mennonite church:
    After making your intent known to the regional church leadership minister, you will be asked to complete the Pastoral Placement Protocol (DropBox: Leadership Docs/Ministry Transitions (Candidate)/PastoralPlacement…) This form helps you and MCEC discern whether the Mennonite Church is a good fit for you. After completing this form, you may be asked to meet with the regional church minister before completing an Ministerial Leadership Information Form (MLI). 
  2. You have been part of the Mennonite church but haven't had a ministry position.
    After making your intent known to the regional church leadership minister, you may be asked to meet with them before completing a Ministerial Leadership Information Form (MLI). 
  3. You are currently ministering in the Mennonite church (or previously).
    If you are still deciding when it is the right time to leave a position, use Discerning When to Leave (DropBox) to help guide the process. If you would like to move forward with pursuing other ministry opportunities, then make sure you Ministerial Leadership Information Form (MLI) is up-to-date  

Step 3: Ministerial Leadership Information Form (MLI)

The Ministerial Leadership Information Form, or MLI, is "the instrument used by the ministerial calling system of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA to gather personal, training, ministry and theological information about a student or pastor who desires a ministry placement."  A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership pg. 75  

  1. To create an MLI, you must begin by filling out the MLI inquiry form (Link to: ) online. A secure username and password to access the online MLI form will be sent to you.
  2. To update your MLI, contact the MLI Administrative Assistant to reopen your MLI.  You will need your username and password to access your MLI through MennoData (the online system used for managing records of pastors and holds the MLI form). The MLI Administrative Assistant can also give you your username and password, if you do not remember it.

NOTE: Completing the MLI and collecting references takes time. Please begin the MLI process at least three months before you may need your MLI. 

  1. Obtain copies of the two booklets you will need to complete your MLI: Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective and A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership.
  2. Use these instructions and helpful tips (Link to Dropbox) when completing your MLI.
  3. Your MLI is ready for circulation when you have completed the online form and your references have been compiled. If you would like your completed MLI sent to MCEC, please make this known to the MLI Administrative Assistant.
    1. Your MLI will remain on file at MCEC, and will only be shared with search committees upon your request

Step 4: Ministry Opportunities

Exploring Opportunities and Applying to Positions  

  1. Once your MLI is complete and on file at the regional church office, then you may begin exploring ministry opportunities. Available positions are posted on the Ministry Opportunities (Link to Ministry Opp page) page of the MCEC website.
  2. When posting a position, search committees complete a profile, including 20 pastoral tasks about their congregation. You can request a profile by emailing
  3. After reviewing the Congregational Information Form & 20 Pastoral Tasks, if you would like to pursue the position further, indicate your interest by sending a cover letter (addressed to the congregation) to MCEC will pass along your cover letter and MLI to the congregational search committee.
    1. None of your documents are distributed without first receiving your permission.
  4. Candidates’ documents are sent to the search committee when the committee is ready to receive them. An email will be sent to candidates’ noting their documents have been sent and that the search committee will follow up from there.
  5. You may be asked to provide either an audiotape or videotape as an example of your preaching and worship leadership. It is up to you how or whether to respond to such requests.
  6. It is generally desirable for a candidate to meet with the search committee to explore the potential relationship and to assess further whether job expectations and other concerns might make this a good match. The candidate does not yet meet the congregation as a whole, nor is the candidacy public.
  7. It is assumed that the candidate will prepare carefully for this interview by reviewing the Congregational Information Form & 20 Pastoral Tasks. Bring pertinent questions of issues that are important to you to this meeting with the committee. Study the Interview Guidelines ( to assist your

What do you do when nothing happens and you are anxiously waiting? 

  • Keep perspective. Remember that waiting is a biblical virtue, especially waiting patiently for God to act. Waiting is part of the uncertainty involved in most life transitions. 
  • Congregations and committees often move cautiously and slowly, or at least so it seems to many candidates. Try to understand how they perceive the process. 
  • You may have registered your intent to be available for a pastoral call, but no options even begin to present themselves. Sometimes a phone call with your Regional Minister or the church leadership minister is helpful.  
  • If you suspect there are significant problems involved, either in terms of how congregations may perceive you or how you relate to a specific church leadership minister or ministerial staff person, it may be important to invite counsel from a trusted and reliable colleague. The persons in place to offer assistance are also human and sometimes fail, even when they seek to be as responsible as possible. Use the network of friends and relationships you have cultivated for support, counsel, and references. 
  • Remember that in our polity we function with a calling system rather than a placement system. As in most vocations, there is no guarantee that a call will be received or that a position will be offered. 

What to do if no one is calling: 

Sometimes your best efforts will not result in making the sought for pastor-congregation connection as quickly as hoped. Sometimes pastoral search committees act too slowly; at other times they seem too hasty and impatient. Do your best to act as responsibly as possible. Pray for God's guidance as you act. In addition, maintain close communication with a church leadership minister or regional minister who is working with the search committee for appropriate counsel. See additional counsel in “When You Seek a Place for Ministry” ( 

Step 5: Candidating

You have been invited as the primary candidate. 

  • The key indicator that congregation and candidate have moved from exploration to negotiation comes with an invitation to visit and meet the congregation in some public and open way.
  • New assumptions enter into the relationship as a candidate moves from exploration to negotiation. It means that the search committee has identified you as their one preferred candidate and is prepared to recommend you to their congregation. It also means that you will now negotiate only with this congregation, until such a time as decisions are finalized. It means that you are serious in your intent to accept a call to ministry to this place, if it is forthcoming; in other words, you are no longer just exploring.
  • Several things happen when you (and your spouse/family) are invited to meet the congregation; among these you might expect the following:
    • You will again meet with the search committee and the governing body (church board, council, deacons or elders) as well as other key groups in the congregation. 
    • You will be given some opportunity to make a public presentation, usually a sermon in the context of worship.
    • Hopefully there will be an occasion where all members can meet you informally and personally.
    • You will be given a chance to raise questions you have about the congregation and your possible ministry there.
    • You will be given opportunity to see the larger community and to assess what living there would mean for you and your family.  

During this visit you will enter into specific negotiations regarding salary, benefits, reimbursements, housing, vacations/holidays, sabbatical policy, beginning date, length of initial term, and moving arrangements. You should also inquire about anticipated procedures and timing for decision. (It is recommended that you use a Memo of Understanding to make certain all-important issues are covered.) This is also the time for further clarification of job descriptions and role expectations. (See the denominational Salary Guidelines, for background and a Memo of Understanding worksheet included in this packet.) 

The Call 

  • The congregation will normally make a decision on extending a call within the week and you will be informed promptly. If it results in a call, you will also receive written notification with specific details of the negotiated agreement or the proposed Memo of Understanding.
  • After you have received a written invitation to ministry, respond in writing with your decision regarding the congregation’s call.
  • Notify the regional church leadership office of your new assignment.
  • If you have had contacts with other search committees, notify them of your decision to accept this call.
  • Pray for the welfare of the relationship between the congregation, yourself, and God. Work positively to make it go well.

Step 6:  Service of Installation


The installation of a minister is usually planned as part of a service of worship and celebration. In this service the congregation, the new pastor and significant people in his/her life and regional church representatives witness and take part in the covenant that sets forth the mutual relationship between the minister and this congregation. It is a time asking God’s blessing and strength to live out the covenant that people and pastor have made. 

Often the Worship Committee or a special committee with representation from the Search Committee plans the service of installation. The following are items to consider in the planning: 

  • Arrange a suitable date when most of the congregation, the pastor and significant people in their lives are able to be there.
  • Contact the leadership administrative assistant to arrange for MCEC representation. This should be done as early in the planning as possible because staff schedules are often filled well in advance, especially in peak transition times.
  • Plan to spend some time discussing the implications of “A Covenant Regarding Ethics in Ministry” (Link to DropBox/Credentialing) with Elders, Church Council or other appropriate bodies in your congregation. You are encouraged to use Ethics in Ministry, Section IV A Shared Understanding of Ministerial Leadership as a resource for your discussions. This covenant will be signed as part of the service of installation. 
  • Arrange to delegate other aspects of the celebration (e.g., food, taking pictures).
  • Delegate someone to develop a litany of installation and inform people of their parts in it. Often this includes a prayer of dedication by the regional church representative or a leader from the congregation. Make sure all the participants know what is expected of them. Sample litanies are available from the MCEC office by contacting the leadership administrative assistant. The Minister’s Manual also has some forms that may be used.
  • Arrange for transfer of membership for the pastor (and spouse) prior to the installation, either during the same or another service.
  • The service of installation is a good opportunity to thank the Search Committee and MCEC Resource Person publicly for their work in calling the new pastor.

Step 7: What’s Next

  • Credentialing (link to credentialing information)
  • License to Marry (link to License to Marry information)
  • TiM (link to Transitioning to Ministry) provide paragraph
  • Financial Aid
  • Events


  • Qualifications for Ministry