- Staff Writer
There’s one thing that only Christ can provide the job-seeker... Hope. Google can’t do it. Indeed can’t do it either. Neither can LinkedIn, CareerBuilder or Monster. Not even our US Department of Labor. But Christ, through the work of the church, can bring hope to the job-seeker. Work is worship, and through work, our communities are redeemed and thrive. You don’t need to look far to find someone who’s looking for a new job. When I first took over the leadership of our Crossroads Career ministry at Perimeter Church, I met with many job-seekers in our church, as well as the job ministry leaders in other churches. We spent time discussing the individual needs of the unemployed, as well as the challenges that the various ministries were experiencing in their communities. Among many of the job-seekers I met, I found the common theme was hopelessness. They often had some idea of how to find a job, but it was taking much longer than they ever expected, and the strength to persevere was fading. So, what can the church do to help the unemployed move from joblessness and dependence, to fulfilling and productive work, where dignity and self-reliance can flourish? Job-seekers often have three critical needs during job transition: Equipping, Discernment and Encouragement.
- Equipping – HOW to search for a job: providing a strong search processes and tools.
- Discernment – WHICH job to search for: providing a framework for decision-making.
- Encouragement – WHY to search for a job: providing the encouragement to persevere.
Here are 5 ways your church can help equip, guide discernment and encourage the job-seekers in your church community:
1. Connect and Pray.
3 Simple Steps:
- Listen. Prayerfully listen to their story. Take the time to listen to what a job-seeker is going through. Ask them how they’re feeling, what they’re struggling with, what’s working and what’s not working. Ask them if they have a job search process, how much time they’re spending their search, and what they think is keeping them from being productive. You may not be able to solve their challenges in your first conversation, but you can listen to the struggles they’re facing and begin to offer encouraging ideas that they may not have considered.
- Encourage. Encourage them with the love of Christ. Assure them that their identity is in Christ, not in their job. Unemployment is a temporary situation, but our identity is eternal. We are God’s masterpiece! For we are God’s workmanship (“work of art”), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10
- Pray. Pray with them and for them. Unemployment can be a lonely road. Don’t let them travel it alone.
2. Provide Tools to your Pastors, Deacons and Staff.
There are many tools and resources readily available for your church leadership. Perimeter Church has been partnering with Crossroads Career (www.crossroadscareer.org) for over 20 years, benefitting from their training workbooks, and online tools and resources. With the right tools, your church ministry team can empower a job-seeker with the right tools and processes to accelerate their job search and potentially become less reliant on your church’s benevolence resources.
3. Engage the Employers in your Church.
Although churches are great at connecting with their members and visitors, it is more challenging to engage with the numerous employers that come through your doors week-in, week-out. One of the tools available today is a platform called The Job Connection (www.thejobconnection.org). This SaaS platform hosts a private-labeled job board for your church to help connect your job-seekers with the employers in your church community. After launching your Job Connection platform, simply send out an announcement to your members, encouraging them to post their jobs on your new platform. Then, announce to your job-seekers that your member employers are trying to connect with them for jobs. The platform was originally built in 2003 as a tool to support the job ministry at Willow Creek Community Church, and has spread many churches across the country since. The platform has several other features to support job ministries (e.g. prayer network, job fair management tools, and resume builder). The Job Connection also donates 20% of its job posting revenue back to its church clients.
4. Post Resources on your Church Website.
One simple step you can take is creating a ‘virtual ministry’ landing page, posting resources for your job-seekers. A few of the more valuable tools you could post might include:
- A list of local ministries
- Resume samples
- List of local career counsellors and coaches
- Job search website links
- Vocation and apprenticeship sites
- Links to job boards
- Links to community-based support organizations
5. Start a Job Ministry.
If you want to take your commitment to the next level, start a formal job ministry. Launching a job ministry will definitely require a good bit more planning and volunteer involvement. Nevertheless, there’s no better way to connect directly with your church’s job-seeking community than to get in the same room and to minister to them with the love of Christ. There are many amazing job ministries across the country, all addressing the needs in their communities in many different ways. Here are a few examples of ministries here in Atlanta that might give you a vision for your ministry: Christ Centered Career Groups (C3G), Northpoint Community Church, Alpharetta, GA C3G is a very successful, long-running job ministry in the Atlanta area. With average attendance of 80-100 guests, they meet weekly, every Friday morning, C3G has a very structured format, allowing new guests to do very brief (10 second) intro’s in front of the group, sit at tables of 8-10 guests, hear a brief 15 devotional, and spend 1-2 hours of small group networking. Separate meetings of industry or function groups meet throughout the week for more focused networking and encouragement. RUMC Job Networking, Roswell United Methodist Church, Roswell, GA RUMC is by far the largest and most robust job ministry in the Atlanta metro area. RUMC meets twice a month with average attendance of approximately 300. RUMC offers a wide-range of equipping and networking events. Their bi-monthly meetings have a packed agenda from 12:30pm til 9pm, filled with a wide range of employment workshops, speakers, mini job fairs, and dinner. Their focus on teaching job seekers how to begin and sustain a job search while providing emotional support and encouragement. Perimeter Crossroads, Perimeter Church, Johns Creek, GA Perimeter Crossroads was founded in the last 90’s and continues to meet on a monthly basis, with a mixed format of encouragement, networking and equipping. Meetings begin with 45 mins of informal networking, followed by a brief career-oriented testimony and a keynote speaker. The keynote shares tactical insights from the Christian walk in their careers. The meets finish with 60 mins of focused roundtable networking of 10-15 people in each group. Lastly, if you’d like to learn more about launching a job ministry in your church, The Job Connection recently posted a 48-page eBook on their site “Job Ministry QuickStart Guide” at www.thejobconnection.org. By making your church a safe-harbor for job-seekers and a meaningful destination for employers, you can create an impactful platform to evangelize Christ in the local workplace. And in doing so, offering the one thing that only Christ can provide: Hope.