Lisa has been called to teach at a Lutheran school, and that's a great occurrence. However, the call process is only partially understood by bloggers online, and instructions are hard to find, so I thought we'd share some of our experiences in order to help others extending a call (congregations) or those looking to accept or return the call (ministers). I am sure the process is similar for pastors, but this is based on our experiences receiving calls as a teacher.
Lisa received a local call, meaning she was already working at the job to which she was called, a phone call about a potential call, and then two phone calls that led to interviews and simulatneous calls to positions. From these experiences, we've learned that some parts of the process are easier than others.
Your Own Church
The call to our own church and for a job she was mostly already doing was fairly straighforward. It was pretty automatic, since it was all at the same place and same district. The only confusing part was how to take the housing allowance instead of just salary, but we got that figured out fairly quickly. As a side note, be sure to take advantage of receiving a housing allowance. The other issue to consider is whether or not others will question the call at a meeting, especially if it's for some position they don't understand. If you're the pastor or a teacher, this won't be an issue, but the potential might exist if you work in the office or are part time, so just keep that in mind. Besides some questions, the process was just to sign the documents. And done.
I add this one because you might get excited by phone calls from congregations wanting to know if you're interested in being interviewed for a potential call. When you're new to a call list, you might think this is a big deal and spend hours researching the location. Just step back and wait for a few days. Sure, look up the school or church website, but don't start pricing the houses until you get asked to actually interview for the job. Even then, there's usually a few other candidates who are being interviewed.
So, you've done your interview and all seems good. Then the phone call comes that you are being called. Now it's a whirlwind. You DO have to look into housing options, as well as travel options to see the place. Lots of decisions to be made in what's generally considered to be a month at the longest to consider. While this might seem like a long time, consider our situation: Lisa was called to a position 2000 mies away about a week before spring break, so we researched for a week and then drove cross-country during the break, and then came back, still not sure (and very tired). Unlike a typical job, where you figure out you want to apply to the company and location ahead of time, a call reverses the order, so all of your deciding about a place comes afterwards. Lisa received a second call at about the same time as the first, so we went another 500+ miles the weekend after our spring break. The process to decide is not always easy, but that's up to you, so we won't get into it too much here. Just say yes or no, and then let them know.
The Call Papers
This one's for the congregations. You should send two copies of the call documents. We received three copies from one call and one copy from the other. The number shall be two, and two shall be the number. No more, and no less. I think the instructions for number of copies is buried somewhere in documentation, so if you're searching to find out the number of copies to send for an LCMS call, then I hope this paragraph helps.
Returning a Call
You will receive call papers in the mail. If you decide to "return" the call, or say no, it's not a terribly difficult process, but we did have to ask. Write a letter explaining why you are returning the call, and then send it in email and in the packet you send back, which is all of the documents they sent you. While this likely ends up in a recycling bin, that's the process.
Accepting the Call
If you decide that the call is where God is leading you, then take the call. You will need to send one copy of the documents back to the church and keep the other set. Then there are the pages you send to governing bodies. We received two copies of those documents, too, but it would appear that only one would be necessary, so we sent the others back with the signed call documents. The problem is that they were not filled out, so Lisa included an explanation that she would be sending them herself.
This leads to addresses. As a courtesy, you might want to include all relevant addresses (including your own) when you send call papers out to a candidate. We had to look up the addresses, which was not a big deal at all, but if we found the wrong address somehow, it could create confusion. In fact, I'd recommend printing up a bunch of relevant addresses on mailing labels and including them in the call envelope.
Back to accepting the call. Make sure you write a nice letter with proper use of grammar and gratitude. Since the call process is kind of a reverse of the normal job search, with the interview coming first, this letter is kind of like a cover letter. Use your Concordance to find a quote. Let them know why God is leading you there. Remind them why they made the right decision.
Then remind yourself. It's a big step to move yourself and your family across the country. It will not always be easy, but you need to remind yourself that this is one of those situations where you've been allowed and encouraged to let God handle some of the details. Yes, talk to others to help make the decision, but when you make it, accept that it's not just about you, and consider how that makes this decision different from pretty much all others in your life.