Tuesday, April 11, 2006
How to Get Hired at a Church
This was written specifically for youth workers; but I think it has some good suggestions for those who are looking to break into the church job scene. Thanks to Gerrard at Youth Ministry Exchange!
1. Your resume is everything. Keep it short. Simple. An opening letter of interest of the position. The resume itself should have your contact info, philosophy of ministry, doctrinal statement, education, experience, honors, and references. Usually 1 page for an introductory letter, 1-2 page resume, and references. Make it professional. Check for spelling. Make them want to talk with you. Don't overdo it though. Be concise and honest.
2. Have it in writing. Get a description of the position. Is it just teens, children also? Pay range etc. If a church doesn't have any idea of what they are looking for, should you really be considering them?
3. Ask what the application process is. This is important. If you are looking for a position in the next few months and the church isn't in any hurry to hire, no need to send a resume. How soon before you can expect to hear back? Are they doing a beauty contest? Bringing in their Top 3? etc.
4. Demographics. Size of church, location. Region of the Country. Not everyone can be the Next Doug Fields in Southern Ca (I'm sure Doug doesn't even want you to be) but be who God called you to be. Know your own personality and gifts and where can minister. This doesn't rule God out, but also might clarify your Calling to a particular area. If you are passionate about Inner City ministry, don't apply to middle of Nowhere, Idaho. Get some info about the church, size, ages, area etc.
5. Be professional. Apply for the position. Review the pros and cons of the area. When conducting interviews try to be concise and be prepared. Nothing like off the wall questions. Be prepared for whatever may come. Be prepared to give a lesson. Show your philosophy of ministry. Dress appropriately for the occasion.
6. Ask Questions. Don't just answer them. Ask them. What is the history of the church? Program Budget? Leadership styles? Get to know much about the church as possible. This is a very much like a dating relationship - you want to know if you will be compatible.
7. Get References. Not only for yourself. But about the church you are applying to. Ask for them. What does the local Y say about the church I'm applying to. How is it seen in the community? Who else has worked or knows about the Senior Minister? etc.
8. Theology is a must. If you cannot agree theologically or methodology with a certain church - don't apply. Don't shape your theology to get a job but rather let your theology lead you. Too often what happens is misunderstandings not only over theology but over difference of opinion, and yet some of this could have been avoided if understood upfront where the congregation stood doctrinally and in its methods to approaching that doctrine.
9. Pool your resources. Network. Know your friends. Know what is out there. Get those connections to help find the right youth ministry position for you.
10. Pray. (Should have been #1) Seek God's will in this. Applying for a youth ministry isn't an easy task. You want it to be for the long haul. Too many apply and accept the first church that has accepted them only to be looking again shortly. If you do your homework, God has a place for you. It is definitely worth it. Youth Ministry is a good thing ... a job at which you can love God and love students.Add Your Comments and Ideas now...
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Great article and valuable advice!
The one problem I have encountered is the salary question. Most churches don't like to tell how much they are thinking. It may be a great match, and you talk and talk and talk, but they are thinking $10,000 less that you can afford to survive on (not live on).
I have heard of some churches that are very upfront on salary, which I feel is much more professional.
Posted by: MusicMan | Apr 11, 2006 9:08:58 AM
Yes! And if they're not up front salary-wise... guess what... They won't or can't pay you a living wage. (That's been my experience... probably 100%)
Posted by: Peter Hamm | Apr 11, 2006 9:25:32 AM
I came to Geneva on a promise that "they would take care of us...". The last time I heard that (15 years ago) it was a lie. BUT, there were other answers given to my questions that pointed me toward trustin gthat statement... Three months in, I was given a raise to meet the ACTUAL cost of living here. AND, there is a large group in the church pushing for more...
The KEY is to ask a lot of questions! LEARN who they are rather than just tell them who you are.
Posted by: Jeff | Apr 11, 2006 12:07:27 PM
OR...do such an incredible job that other churches come ask you to come work for them...
Posted by: phill | Apr 11, 2006 12:26:10 PM
Hey Todd, thanks for the hit to YMX! We're a small and growing bunch of wild, up and coming youth workers. Glad you found us.
Posted by: adam | Apr 13, 2006 4:52:46 PM
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