Calling for Associate or Assistant Pastor Positions

Congregations wishing to call a pastoral candidate from Concordia Seminary’s upcoming graduating class for the position of Assistant Pastor or Associate Pastor may interview candidates beforehand. (Interviews are not ordinarily allowed for the position of sole pastor.) This sheet seeks to help you understand the process and to guide you through it, should your congregation choose to call a candidate.

Here are the basic steps to the process:

  1. Please request your District President to send the Seminary Placement Director a letter (either email or hard copy) which states his awareness of your intent to interview candidates from Concordia Seminary and which gives his approval of the interviews. It is very important that he be alerted to the fact that you are interested in a candidate. The Seminary Placement Director is not able to proceed in this process with you until he receives this note from your District President and has it on file. It is your responsibility to contact your District President and to ask him to send this letter to the Seminary Placement Director.
  2. Your District President will provide you with a letter outlining the call process, which will include a request for a thumb-nail sketch of the congregation’s ministry, and a ministry description for the position of assistant/associate pastor which you are seeking to fill. (What are the responsibilities of the position? What are the expectations of the candidate – in terms of experience and strengths?)  He will also send a “Congregational Profile Form.”  Upon completion, these documents are to be returned to the District President for his approval. He will then forward them to the Placement Directors at both seminaries.  The seminary Placement Directors will then be in contact with the pastor or contact person.
  3. In December or early January the Seminary Placement Director will contact you identifying four or at most five student candidates that he thinks may be a good fit for your congregation. He will email the profiles of these students to you (so please provide him with your email address). You may have questions for the Seminary Placement Director, such as why he recommended these specific candidates. He welcomes any questions you have about this. After reviewing the written profiles, please give us the names of the three or four candidates you chose to interview.  (If you are unable to identify at least three candidates you may ask for additional profiles.)
  4. If you wish to contact the designated candidates for a preliminary interview, you may do so. This could be done by phone or email, but candidate(s) are not allowed to travel to your site for an interview. Also you are not allowed to do psychological testing as a part of the candidate analysis.
  5. The Placement Office will arrange a date for you and several (three to five) leaders or staff members of your congregation to come to St. Louis personally to interview these designated candidates. This interview should take place in January or February. You will interview all the designated candidates preferably on the same day, with interview times scheduled by the Placement Office. All arrangements for travel, shuttle service, and lodging are your responsibility. (If you are unable to travel to St. Louis, you may conduct the interviews by phone or over the internet via Skype.)
  6. Following this day of interviews, please contact the Seminary Placement Director either by phone or email to provide him with your impressions of the candidates and your intentions for future action.
  7. Your interview/call committee then presents its recommendation to the congregational voters’ assembly for formal action. You can submit the following types of calls for a seminary candidate: a) exclusive request (this means that your congregation desires only one specific candidate and none other), b) preferred request (you identify your first preference, second preference, etc., of the candidates you interviewed), c) open request (you have no preference regarding the candidates interviewed and will accept any of them which you interviewed). Please know that it is okay if your congregation decides not to request any of those you interviewed and does not submit a call. Please also recognize that submitting an exclusive request significantly increases the risk that you will not be assigned a candidate, so it is wisest to submit either a preferred request or an open request.
    1. A congregation which limits its designation to one candidate has about a 40% chance of receiving that candidate.
    2. A congregation which limits its designation to two candidates has about a 70% chance of receiving one of those two candidates.
    3. A congregation which limits its designation to three candidates has about a 95% chance of receiving one of those three candidates.
  8. The call is processed through your District President’s office, from which you are to secure the proper paperwork. You must submit the call to the District President’s office no later than March 15 to receive a candidate that spring.

As you consider the team ministry in your congregation, we would also encourage you to consider the alternative of a deaconess candidate. Deaconesses serve in congregations by teaching, visitation, counseling, youth ministries, family ministries and other caring ministries.  Our deaconess candidates have received an M.A. in Deaconess Studies, after completing two years of academic coursework, six quarters of field education, and one year of internship.  If you would like to add a deaconess candidate to your interview schedule please notify the placement director.


We want to make the process as clear and easy as possible for you. We also want to help you to lead this process in your congregation with confidence. Be assured that if at any time you have any questions, you may contact the Placement Office:

Rev. Wayne Knolhoff, Placement Director
(314) 505-7170, knolhoffw@csl.edu; (314) 505-7229 (fax)