How to Start a Career in Ministry (Without Experience)
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.