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The Appreciative Way
Enabling Innovation at the Speed of Life          

Assessing Skills and
Discerning Calls

Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls


  • Theological Perspective of the Search Process
  • Overview of Appreciative Inquiry
  • Designing a Transitional Ministry to Support the Search.
  • Conducting a Congregational
    Appreciative Inquiry Summit
  • Developing Job Requirements
  • Evaluating Supplemental Written Questions
  • Evaluating a Structured Interview
  • Checking References and Past Performance
  • Assessing Work Samples Such as Preaching and Celebrating
  • Discernment; Vestry Interviewing and Simulated Vestry Retreat Exercises

>>  View Contents


  • Readily Adaptable to Specific Parish Needs
  • Congregations can subscribe to online library to access resources.
  • Augments Adjudicatory and National Church Procedures

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Our Congregational Coaching Services

If you have questions about what would work best for you and your congregation send Rob an email and request a free consultation to explore what strategy would be of benefit to your community.

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>>  Email Rob Voyle
        for a Free Consultation

The Appreciative Way

The Appreciative Way, is Rob and Kim Voyle's synthesis of:

  • The practice and philosophy of Appreciative Inquiry
  • The work of Milton Erickson and his students
  • Positive Psychology
  • Compassion as the agent of transformation
  • Contemplative Spirituality

The Appreciative Way
Discover the essentials of the
Appreciative Way in this fast
read format book by Rob and
Kim Voyle.

>>  View Contents

Clergy Search Trainers

Kim Voyle

Kim Voyle

Rob Voyle

Rob Voyle

Continuing Education

We are approved sponsors of Continuing Education for Psychologists and Coaches through the APA and BCC.

>>  Continuing Education

Please contact Dr. Robert Voyle, if you have questions regarding the suitability of a program to meet your continuing education needs.

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Clergy Search Consultation Training

This program is based on the Appreciative Inquiry revision of Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls by Drs. Robert and Kim Voyle.

In this 2.5 day workshop participants will learn how to use the appreciative inquiry approach when conducting clergy searches including how to:

  • Assess congregational needs during the search and transition
  • Conduct a congregation-wide AI summit
  • Create a parish profile
  • Establish criteria for assessing a pastor
  • Create a consensus scoring process for reviewing clergy competencies
  • Use appreciative interviewing strategies
  • Develop and assess performance on simulated ministry exercises
  • Develop congregation specific discernment exercises

Appreciative Search Strategies

The Appreciative Way suggests that we need to focus our search strategies on:

  • What are we as a congregation like at our best and where is our best taking us?
  • What do we want to become as a parish?

Once these questions are answered then the focus can turn to the candidates.

  • What are the candidates like at their best?
  • Can we as a congregation provide a context for the pastor to be at their best?
  • Can the pastor provide a context for the congregation to be at their best?
  • Can we together, congregation and pastor mutually discover God's presence and purpose?

Behind these questions is the idea that effective ministry occurs when clergy and congregations create a context that calls forth the best from each other, and within that best to discover the mystery of God's presence, purpose and calling.

This appreciative approach contrasts many search processes which ultimately get decided on whether or not each party can tolerate the worst that the other has done and is likely to do. The appreciative approach does not gloss over these problems or flaws but goes beyond them to discern if a positive foundation can be found to establish a productive ministry relationship.

Theological Perspective On the Search Process

We used the Biblical Model for the calling of Mathias (Acts 1:21-26) in developing Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls. When the Apostles needed to replace Judas they used a four step process:

  • They understood they had a purpose or mission to fulfill.
  • They set criteria for effective job performance.
  • They assessed potential candidates with respect to the criteria.
  • From a list of qualified candidates, discern who God is calling to the position.

These four steps are crucial for effective clergy calling. In our experience difficulties in the search process arise primarily for three reasons:

  • The congregation has little idea of its purpose and what it wants to become.
  • No clear search criteria are agreed to so the search committee members are simply looking for their individual ideal pastor without regard for the whole.
  • The tasks of assessing skills and discerning calls is confused. Assessing competence is an essential prerequisite to engaging in discernment.
    It is impossible to effectively engage in discernment when some of the candidates being discerned over are incompetent with respect to the criteria.

Continuing Education Credit

This program qualifies for 15 contact hours of continuing education credit.

>>  Continuing Education Programs

Who Should Attend This Program

This program is designed for church leaders and consultants engaged in assisting congregations in their search processes. It would be appropriate for:

  • Clergy engaged in interim ministry.
  • Psychologists, Consultants and Counselors
    who are also clergy or who work with clergy and churches.
  • Congregational Search Consultants

Typical Workshop Schedule:

The following is a typical workshop schedule. The exact schedule may vary depending on location.

For each specific program a flyer with dates, schedule times, and continuing education hours can be found on the training schedule page.

This program usually starts in the morning on the third day of the appreciative inquiry training.

Day 3:
9:00-12:00        Session 7
12:00-1:30 pm   Lunch
1:30-3:15 pm     Session 8
3:15-3:45 pm     Walking Meditation and Reflection
3:45-5:30 pm     Session 9

Day 4:
9:00-12:00        Session 10
12:00-1:30 pm   Lunch
1:30-3:15 pm     Session 11
3:15-3:45 pm     Walking Meditation and Reflection
3:45-5:30 pm     Session 12

Day 5:
9:00-12:00        Session 13

Specific times and costs may vary depending on the sponsoring organization.

Please check the schedule and registration page for additional workshop specific information.

Note: The above schedule includes meals for commuters. When residential accommodation is provided, residential participants will also be provided with Breakfast and Supper during the course of the week.

Costs for 2024

Tuition Fee Early Bird 4 weeks before session:
Within 4 weeks of session:

Participants at the training will receive a personal copy of
Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls

Participants who register at the same time for the consecutive Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry and The Search Consultation Training will receive a $50 discount.

>>  Cancellation Policy


Accommodation and facility use fees are extra and are dependent on the training locations and will be specified on the registration forms. Meals between sessions are typically provided for commuters.


Kim Voyle is a Career psychologist and has over 25 years of experience in the Human Resources and Career Development field.

Rob Voyle is an ordained Episcopal priest, psychologist, and executive coach and has over 25 years of church consulting.

Together Rob and Kim have written:

>>  Assessing Skills and Discerning Calls

>>  Core Elements of the Appreciative Way

>>  Yes!3

Registration for Workshop

To register for the workshop please go to the training schedule and select register for the appropriate workshop. For additional information please contact Rob Voyle

What Participants Say

The Rev. Robert Voyle was invaluable to making our search process a success. He led the committee members in Appreciative Inquiry exercises to build up the relationships of the team members and to begin to articulate some common understandings of the core values of our diocese.

Rob coached us to keep a clear perspective of what we had discerned as the skills and gifts necessary for our next bishop and to let this guide our work. He was also at the other end of the telephone or email when specific issues came up that would be helped by his experience and knowledge.

Joanna Shreve, Co-Chair Diocese of El Camino Real Bishop Search Committee

Rob's combination of organizational savvy, teaching skills, theological & spiritual integration, and ability to rapidly build supportive, learning communities is quite simply the best in any of the churches today.
Gray Temple, Episcopal Priest, Author & Coach

After 45 years in the pastoral ministry and attending three events led by Rob Voyle, I have finally learned a better way to help church leaders help themselves and the people they serve.
John Wilkerson, Director: Church Leadership Coaching & Consulting

Rob's appreciative coach training helped me to rethink the way I approach and provide therapy; Thanks!
Dr. George Moses, Pastoral Counselor

Rob will enhance your ability to delight in yourself, your neighbor and God through his insightful, practical, loving, professionally grounded, appreciative and often mischievous coaching and teaching skills; and that will make you a better leader and citizen in God's creation.
Ed Leidel, Episcopal Bishop and Congregational Coach serving North America

"I have been fully engaged emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Thank you for touching me at the core of my being."
M.E. Member of the UCC Church.

"Of all the training I have been to, your notes are the ones I keep coming back to time and again for practical resources."
P.W. Conference Pastor.

Rob's training is full of heart, wit, and passion.
E.R. Executive Coach

Rob's educational model brings body, mind and spirit together. I have been challenged intellectually, transformed spiritually, touched emotionally, gathering in communally. He came into my life at just the right time.

Jean Holmes, Presbyterian Pastor

 Read Evaluation Summaries 

Not Just for Clergy

While developed with clergy in mind our programs would also be appropriate for:

  • Church Leaders.
  • Lay Professionals.
  • Psychologists and Counselors
    who work with Clergy.
  • Coaches who offer their services from a spiritual perspective.

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