Find the right church job
Wherever God is calling you, let us help you get there.
Wherever God is calling you, let us help you get there.
We call it the death spiral. I know. It’s not a pleasant term. I can understand if it causes you to cringe. By the time I am contacted about a serious problem in a church, it is often too late. The problems are deeply rooted, but the remaining members have been blind to them, or they chose to ignore them. There are eight clear signs evident in many churches on the precipice of closing. If a church has four or more of these signs present, it is likely in deep trouble. Indeed, it could be closing sooner than almost anyone in the church would anticipate.1. There has been a numerical decline for four or more years. Worship attendance is in a steady decline. Offerings may decline more slowly as the “remnant” gives more to keep the church going. There are few or no conversions. Decline is clear and pervasive.2. The church does not look like the community in which it is located. The community has changed its ethnic, racial or socioeconomic makeup, but the church has not. Many members are driving from other places to come to the church. The community likely knows little or nothing about the church. And the church likely knows little or nothing about the community.3. The congregation is mostly comprised of senior adults. It is just a few years of funerals away from having no one left in the church.4. The focus is on the past, not the future. Most conversations are about “the good old days.” Those good old days may have been 25 or more years in the past. Often a hero pastor of the past is held as the model to emulate.5. The members are intensely preference-driven. They are more concerned about their music style, their programs, their schedules and their facilities than reaching people with the gospel. Their definition of discipleship is “others taking care of my needs.”6. The budget is severely inwardly focused. Most of the funds are expended to keep the lights on and/or to meet the preferences of the members. There are few dollars for ministry and missions. And any dollars for missions rarely include the involvement of the members in actually sharing the gospel themselves.7. There are sacred cow facilities. It might be a parlor or a pulpit. It could be pews instead of chairs. It might be the entirety of the worship center or the sanctuary. Members insist on holding tightly to those things God wants us to hold loosely.8. Any type of change is met with fierce resistance. The members are confronted with the choice to change or die. And though few would articulate it, their choice by their actions or lack of actions is the choice to die. Churches with four or more of these signs have three choices. They can embark on a process of change and revitalization. Or they can close the doors for a season and re-open with a new name, a new vision and some new people. Of course, the third choice is to do nothing. That is the choice to die. Thousands of churches will unfortunately do just that the next twelve months.
In today's world, we are constantly bombarded by useless messages that herald a quick fix to our problems: “Sign up and get $1,000!” “Wanna be a beauty consultant? Build a team under you and receive triple what you invest.” “Take this to lose 10 lbs in one week—without exercising!” I interact with dozens of ministry candidates every day, and on a regular basis, I am asked, “How can I get a church job if I don’t have experience? What is the quickest way to get into this ministry position I know God has called me to?” Before I share four steps to help you get the ministry job you're desiring, here are a few things I’m confident about regarding finding a church job without prior experience:He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).We are all called to ministry, and that will look different for each and every person.All we are required to do in this moment is to be obedient to what He has said. My husband often says when God isn’t speaking or giving insights into our path, we’re to remain faithful to what He has said and the last word of direction. He is faithful to lead us!For all the candidates who are seeking a ministry position without prior experience in that role, here are four steps to getting that church job:Step 1: Let it go.The best thing to do first is to get to a place in your heart where you are 100 percent open to whatever God has planned for you—even if that means never acquiring a vocational ministry job. I say this because over time, you'll doubtless be faced with some measure of “no”s and disappointment. And then you’ll be faced with a choice: You can either make the calling your idol who keeps disappointing, or you can choose to trust the living God who is good and have joy. Letting go doesn’t diminish your call, but it frees to you to live joyfully, believing God isn’t holding out on you. Where you are right now is because of His direction and good pleasure.Step 2: Be excellent where you are.Even if you’re currently at T-Mobile selling phones, be the most faithful, generous and active employee at T-Mobile. No matter what career you have, your work ethic and integrity need to be the same wherever you go. Use where you are now to learn and to grow. But while you’re there…Step 3: Get a mentor.Meet with people further along on the path you desire to be on, and ask how they got there. Receive their insights into your gifting and calling. Sometimes we’re off in our perception of where we think we should be. Sometimes we’re not hearing the voice of the Lord correctly, and that’s one of the reasons why we need the body of Christ. Dive into community. The aim of this step isn’t to self-actualize, but to get under the wisdom of someone further along and use it to learn. Since you’re not tied down to a specific ministry right now, you have the opportunity to travel, learn and grow. I want to take a moment to pause before this last point and say, we don’t deserve anything. Amen? God has given us all we need for life and godliness. I’ve never met an effective worker of the Kingdom who thought they earned their way or they were entitled to a certain position. So with that in mind...Step 4: Be an indispensable volunteer in your church community.This might sound counterintuitive to Step 3, but it really goes hand in hand. My senior pastor, Fred, once shared this story: He first started attending our founding church after seminary. After a couple of Sundays, he saw areas of potential growth for the church and thought his skills could be useful for genuinely blessing the community. He approached one of the pastors and shared his plan and how his skills could benefit the church. The pastor replied, “That’s great; I’m so glad you’re called here. Right now, we really need volunteers after service to help with tear down and stack chairs. Would you be willing to jump in on the tear down team?” Fred admitted his pride was wounded by the response, and he stopped attending the church for a season. This wasn’t how he planned his entrance into ministry, and he felt like he was being discounted. Through a series of events (and even pastoring a small church in Texas), he eventually understood that pastor’s reply. This pastor wasn’t asking him to give up on his calling but to lay it down at the altar. Fred returned to the church and became that indispensable volunteer: someone who is humble, available and teachable. Someone who others want on their team because they’re a joy to be around and there when you need them. He eventually became the senior pastor of the church. I’m not saying that if you follow in my senior pastor's footsteps, you'll definitely become a senior pastor. But what I am saying is that humility and faithfulness are always a foolproof starting place. Become the indispensable volunteer for where God has placed you in the church. Use what you are excellent at for the Kingdom and be open to His lead looking different than you think it should.Get your foot in the door by creating an account on ChurchJobFinder and start getting discovered by employers.
There is often an unintentional tendency to conduct what seems more like a beauty pageant than a process to hire the best candidate.The position doesn’t matter, and it can be the pastor, technical personnel, someone on the children’s ministry team, a worship leader or support staff, etc. There is always the danger of parading pedigrees, and picking who’s popular rather than digging deep and being diligent. Whether your church is large or small, every person you choose to serve on staff matters in a big way. Each one carries the culture, vision and heart of your church. One misaligned staff person can do more damage than imaginable. Firing a staff member is much more complicated than hiring one. And because this is true, there is an inherent temptation to think about hiring as relatively easy and therefore lighten up in the process. Bad call. Dig in, do your homework and make wise choices.Here are five mistakes to avoid that will help you make better hires.1) Lowering standardsWhen you are short a staff member, either someone else carries those additional responsibilities, or the job doesn’t get done. That is pressure. Time passes, someone becomes overloaded, balls are dropped and fractures start to show themselves in your ministry. The pressure increases. Soon, if a candidate says they love Jesus and likes coffee, they start to look pretty good. Yes, that’s exaggerated, but if you’ve been hiring for a while, you know what I mean. It’s far better to wait than to settle and make the wrong hire. You are not looking for a perfect person, but you do want the right person.2) Surrendering to politicsPersonality matters. In John Maxwell’s book The 5 Levels of Leadership, Level 2 reminds us that people follow you because they like you. But if that’s the only reason, you’re in trouble. This is especially true in hiring. Hiring someone you know can be a great advantage. It’s smart to hire people from within your church when you can. But hiring buddies, friends and “an influential person’s son or daughter” just because of the relationship is often a huge mistake. Don’t give in to political pressure. Hold strong. Each candidate must be able to stand on their own merits and be capable of doing the job.3) Rushing the processIf the person is worth hiring, and God is in the process, there is no need to panic and hire fast. You won’t lose them if they are the right person and called by God to serve on your team. Take your time. Taking your time doesn’t mean to go slow. Keep moving. You should be doing something nearly every day in a hiring process. It may take months to find the right person, that’s OK. The principal idea is to cover all your bases and don’t cheat the process. One good rule of thumb is to have three good candidates that you would hire before you select one. This isn’t always possible, but the closer you adhere to that practice the better your hires will be.4) Unwilling to ask the hard questionsIt’s easy to see how this happens. You like the person, they like you and you share good chemistry. You have a relational approach, and so before you know it, it feels like you are good friends. But you don’t really know the person yet, not like you need to. This sets you up to skip the more difficult questions. I’ve done it! For example, I’ve skipped asking about theological issues, temptations they face or fears they battle. That’s a mistake. Or specific things such as belief about tithing, their personal prayer life or recent mistakes they’ve made. Asking the hard questions isn’t done with a harsh spirit, or in a way that makes the interview uncomfortable. It’s about expressing appropriate maturity between you and the candidate to genuinely get to know them. This includes calling references. A practical tip here is to always ask for at least one or two more references than are listed on the resume.5) Failing to involve a groupNo matter how smart you are, or how much experience you have, hiring someone by yourself is a mistake. Your personal perspective is good, but it’s too narrow. You need input from others to make the best choice. If you are the pastor of a small church, ask two or three business people in your church to help you. If you are a staff person in a large church, it’s important to form a well-selected team of at least three people. Even five interviewers are not too many. This doesn’t mean you surrender the decision to a group vote, and there is usually a final decision-maker. But if that decision-maker is wise, they will listen carefully to the input and opinions of the team. Avoid these five mistakes, and you’ll make better hires! Ready to get started? Post a job and strengthen your team now.