This post may cause some of you to feel uneasy. I have to admit I’ve had some of those same feelings writing it. I prefer to think of pastoral ministry as a calling more than a job. And I sometimes cringe when I write about seemingly secular solutions to Christian work.
Nevertheless, over the life of this blog the past several years, I have received countless inquiries from men and women seeking positions in churches. Many are frustrated because they feel like their applications or resumes go into a digital black hole. They never even hear from many of the churches.
So I asked a number of pastors and church staff about the processes they experienced in getting a new position in a church. To be transparent, I need to explain that a church pursued some of them without any initiative on their part. The vast majority, however, took specific actions that ultimately led to their being called or hired.
My questions were conducted informally, but I still think the responses are telling. Here are the top seven responses in order of frequency.
- They used an informal network of persons to recommend them for the position. That network included friends in ministry, denominational workers, and church members at the specific church that had the opening.
- They made certain their resumes stood out. They accomplished this feat in three ways. First, they asked knowledgeable persons to help them shape the resumes, and to proofread them carefully. Second, they looked at other persons’ resumes to see what everyone else was doing, so they could do something unique. Third, they made certain the resume addressed very specifically the position they sought.
- They sought an influential person to recommend them. Because the person recommending the candidate was influential to the decision makers, the candidate was more likely to be given more serious consideration.
- They made certain that their reputations were good in the world of social media. One pastor shared with me that he has not been able to find another church because of his negative reputation on his blog and other social media. More and more churches are doing a social media search on a candidate before ever contacting him or her.
- They actively monitored sites that provide job postings. Denominational groups offer some of the sites. Others are independent, and include ministry search firms.
- They asked for help from their denomination or seminary. These entities are not as active in ministry placement as previous years; but they still can be very helpful to a candidate.
- They were persistent. One candidate told me she had her application in over 20 churches before she ever heard from anyone. She persisted by submitting a resume to a different church for a position almost once a week. That determination finally resulted in a great position in a church.
Some of the pastors and staff I contacted were appointed to their positions by a denominational authority, so their process differed from the seven items I note above. Let me hear your responses to these seven approaches. If you feel comfortable, share with us how you got your current position.
Posted on January 12, 2015
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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