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Vanderbloemen Search Group

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church - Senior Pastor

Vanderbloemen Search Group
Columbus, Ohio, United States

Date Posted: 11/07/2017
Categories: Senior Pastor
Denominations: Not Applicable
Church Size: Not Applicable
Job Type: Full-Time

Job Description:


Upper Arlington Lutheran Church (UALC) seeks to carry out its mission “to be and to make disciples of Jesus Christ” in all that its members say and do. The church exists for God and for the people He loves—those who are already there and those He will help them reach for the Kingdom’s sake.

UALC celebrates vital worship, placing a high value on Bible-based teaching, complemented by vibrant programs and events. They believe and have experienced that the Bible is the living Word of God. As a body of believers, they seek to live as Jesus lived and do the things that Jesus taught His church. They pray for their hearts to come alive with the Holy Spirit, with a passion for sharing Jesus with others. UALC strives to connect with the communities and cultures in which God has placed among them.

UALC is a multisite church with five worship communities in two campus locations, each with a distinct worship style. They are also in a partnership with another local church in an urban church “re-planting” effort. UALC has approximately 4,000 confirmed/5,700 baptized members. It is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the country, with an average attendance of 1,500 on Sunday mornings. The church has an annual budget of $5 million and is debt-free.  


Size: 1513

Denomination: North American Lutheran Church (NALC) and Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC)


Location: Columbus, OH

About the Position:

The Senior Pastor of UALC has responsibilities that typically are expected of any Senior Pastor, including the preaching and teaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments and the oversight of accurate congregational records. In this vein, it is expected that UALC’s next Senior Pastor will be, first and foremost, knowledgeable about the Holy Scriptures and theology, wholly committed to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and an effective preacher from the pulpit.

In addition, particular gifts are indicated for the position of UALC’s Senior Pastor, given the size and complexity of the congregation, its structure as a “congregation of communities,” and UALC’s emerging vision. 

Giftedness in the following areas would be especially helpful for the next Senior Pastor to be effective in his role:

  • Leadership and Team-Building Skills

The community structure involves a “team” of pastors who serve the various communities of UALC. As a result, the Senior Pastor should be able to lead effectively and develop that team of pastors (who at any point in time are likely to be at different stages of their individual careers) as they grow in their capabilities. As one pastor noted, “this person should be a leader of leaders and able to mentor leaders.” As another stated, “much of the job will be coaching, discipling, and building depth and breadth in our pastors and staff,” as well as “creating [an] environment for learning and working together as a team.” Given the community structure in place, this pastor suggested that the new Senior Pastor “cannot be a pulpiteer who views that as 90% of his job.”

  • Organizational Skills

UALC is a large and complex organization with two campuses, all with substantial physical facilities; five worship styles/venues with seven weekly services; seven ordained pastors; over 40 staff members; a $5 million annual budget; dozens of active ministries; and approximately 5,700 baptized members. The Senior Pastor will be responsible for overseeing this complex operation; putting in place capable pastoral, financial, communications, and other staff to handle the congregation’s day-to-day affairs; and establishing levels of authority and procedures for decision-making at appropriate levels within the organization. The Senior Pastor also should seek to establish a collegial environment for all of the church staff.

  • Relational Skills

UALC has had remarkable pastoral and staff continuity for the past 35-40 years. A priority for the new Senior Pastor will be to build “relational equity” with the entirety of the UALC congregation. One pastor stated that “this person would be helped by having a strong persona to help build relationships across all of the communities and to communicate love to groups in public settings.”

  • Strategic Execution

The next Senior Pastor should understand deeply, and be able to communicate well, the emerging vision for UALC and develop a strong presence to lead the entire congregation in realizing that vision. One pastor expressed hope that “this person should be a strong strategist and work well with others in this regard. This person should be visionary and managed by mission and courage.” Moreover, the Senior Pastor should be, as UALC has been, willing to work and partner with other Christian congregations and denominations in advancing the Gospel. The new Senior Pastor should understand that a new vision has been created and that a major skill needed is to operationalize this vision.

  • Council Leadership

Perhaps unlike other churches, UALC council operates in a leadership model taking seriously their Constitutional duties to: “be in prayer to discern the Lord's will and vision for this congregation; provide spiritual leadership in guiding the witness, worship, ministries and affairs of this congregation; establish and articulate the broad policies and mission objectives for this congregation…” The new Senior Pastor should understand that there has been an evolving strong collaboration/shared leadership between the Senior Pastor and Council.

  • Congregational Feedback

In a survey during a congregational meeting, the congregation has expressed strong support of a candidate who stands out in the areas of integrity, strong relational skills and effective communication, as well as being an exceptional team builder and an inspirational and encouraging leader.

  • Executive Staff Feedback

The Executive Staff has stated that integrity/trust, clarity with the staff, and effective team-building are important qualities needed in the Senior Pastor.

  • Theological Identity

UALC is not a typical Lutheran church. While founded as a Lutheran mission in 1956, because of its nature as the “community church” for the developing neighborhoods, UALC has historically always drawn individuals from diverse theological backgrounds. It is critical for the Senior Pastor to be fully versed in Lutheran theology, confessions, and catechesis, yet equally familiar with evangelical and charismatic theology and culture. While we affirm our Lutheran heritage, and have placed an emphasis on our Lutheran “lens” as the foundation for our worldview in our Constitution and Core Values, we are truly focused on the Kingdom. This is reflected in the varied denominational backgrounds of our parishioners (Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, Pentecostal, Non-Denominational, etc.), as well as in our willingness to work and partner with churches/organizations with different denominational ties. The Senior Pastor will also need to provide clarity to staff regarding these complexities.

What We Are Searching For / Qualifications:

The following describes many of the characteristics of the ideal candidate for the Senior Pastor:

Education and Experience

The ideal candidate will possess a demonstrated commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, satisfy the principles in the Bible for pastoral leadership (i.e., 1 Timothy 3:2- 10, Titus 1:6-9), hold and advocate doctrines consistent with the Holy Scripture and the UALC Confession of Faith, have completed a master of divinity or theology from a recognized theological seminary or have equivalent ministry experience, and have appropriate training in Lutheran theology.

The ideal candidate will have at minimum 10 years of ministry experience in Senior Leadership at a church of more than 500 in weekly attendance, preferably as a Senior Pastor or as a Senior Leader in a large multi-staff environment. Multi-site experience would be a bonus, but is not required.

Lutheran Credentialing of New Senior Pastor

The NALC requires the Senior Pastor to be ordained/certified within the denomination. However, clergy not currently credentialed with the NALC are still qualified to serve at UALC as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • Pastors within the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and other Lutheran bodies pastors who are willing to be certified by the NALC bishop before accepting a call to UALC;
  • Clergy within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), who request and are approved to serve under the NALC bishop per the NALC-ACNA shared clergy agreement;
  • Pastors currently from other denominations who meet our constitutional requirements, stated needs above, and are willing to be certified by the NALC bishop before accepting a call to UALC.

Personal Characteristics

The ideal candidate for this role will be in a significant leadership position and able to lead the church into a new era of growth and mission for the Kingdom. They need to be able to harness this energy and drive it, as an effective communicator and gifted leader.

Above all, the new Senior Pastor must be a spiritual leader who is deeply committed to Jesus Christ and the Scriptures, submitting to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in humility and joy.

  • Satisfies Biblical principles for pastoral leadership (1 Timothy 3:2-10, Titus 1:6-9)
  • Holds and advocates doctrines consistent with the Holy Scripture and the Confession of Faith
  • Spirit-Filled
  • Gifted at preaching and teaching
  • Leadership (including inspiration, goal setting, delegation, accountability)
  • Gifted at team building - coaching, encouraging, mentoring, discipling, building breadth & depth, working together
  • High level of quality organizational and operational skills
  • Skilled at strategy execution
  • Exhibits excellent relational skills with the congregation, staff and Council
  • Exhibits high level of integrity and trust
  • Exercises excellent communication skills in consistency, clarity, and concise speaking and writing.


About the Location:

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church is situated in a northwest suburb of Columbus contiguous with the larger Columbus metroplex, the capital city of the State of Ohio, containing 2-million residents who call it home. Columbus is the 15th largest city in the country. It is an incredibly diverse city, exploding with new businesses, one-of-a-kind art galleries, major new sports facilities, award-winning eateries, and family attractions like the world-renowned Columbus Zoo, and the most popular annual festivity in the city, the Ohio State Fair, one of the largest state fairs in the country. Its bustling downtown district and diverse suburban neighborhoods has made the city a huge attraction to young families.

Modern Columbus has emerged as a technologically sophisticated city with the world's largest private research and development foundation, the Battelle Memorial Institute, and The Ohio State University, the nation's third largest campus. A highly scholastic community that values intellectual capacity, the city is also home to several other institutions of higher learning including Capital University, Columbus State Community College, Columbus College of Art and Design, Franklin University, Ohio Dominican University and Otterbein University.

Defined by progress, Columbus is a city that is growing and thriving with young churches, young professionals, and young families. Columbus ranked #1 as an Opportunity City, #11 among Best Places for Business and Careers, and #35 in National Job Growth, on Forbes.


In the past decade, Columbus has become increasingly international as international students at OSU have remained in the area and as refugees have settled in the area. The largest growth has been in the Hispanic and Muslim communities. UALC is responding to these changes by expanding its ministries to serve and reach these growing populations.


Upper Arlington Lutheran Church