Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Foundation - Occupation/Job Analysis and Competency Identification

When you plan to examine individuals for entry into an occupation (including professions such as ministry), the best place to start is identifying what people in that occupation do and how they do it. Once you've identified the duties and responsibilities, the next step is to identify the competencies required to perform them.

In considering the competencies for UU ministry, we are blessed to have the work of the Market Voice Consulting for the Panel on Theological Education. At this link, you can download "Report on Excellence in Ministry." Market Voice Consulting found consistent agreement on the following competencies:

– Strong interpersonal skills.
– Self-aware, understands boundaries, mature.
– Compassionate and caring.
– Inclusive and supportive.
– Thorough knowledge of UU history and traditions.
– Solid grounding in theology – history, sacred writings, beliefs, cultural impact – not just UU.
– Savvy about organizational and institutional dynamics.
– Passionate about the work, a strong sense of calling.
– Challenges people and congregations to be their best.

Furthermore, they added:
Some people say excellence is determined by how well-matched the minister and the position/job are.

While these competencies require further review to turn them into behavioral standards, it seems like we're off to a good start in competency identification.

While there is little doubt that there are shared competencies for serving as the senior minister at a large congregation, the sole minister of a small congregation, a minister of religious education, a prison chaplain, a medical chaplain, a military chaplain, a community organizer, and the director of a legislative ministry office, it is quite likely that different positions require different competencies.

It is understandable why the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee (MFC) would not want to examine all ministerial candidates on all competencies or even on the competencies that are specific to certain assignments. However, it appears that individuals who are not preparing for parish ministry are much more likely to be tested on uniquely parish ministry competencies while individuals who are preparing for parish ministry are unlikely to being examined on competencies not required for parish ministry.


  1. What competencies distinguish a parish from a community minister? As a community minister in candidacy, I'm curious to know what you believe a community minister is likely to be examined on that isn't required for community ministry.

    Best wishes on your new blog.

  2. Great question.

    Please let me be even more specific in my answer. Rather than generic competencies for community ministry, let's say we're talking about competencies for a psychiatric chaplaincy. Though I haven't done a job analysis on this position, I suspect that a knowledge of the DSM, psychiatric illnesses, and psychopharmacology would be much more relevant to this position than to parish ministry. I'm not suggesting that the MFC examine in this depth regarding specialties in ministry, but it would be legitimate for an employer (e.g., a hospital in this example) to do so.