The Top 5 Traits Church Leaders Want From 2015 Graduates


You’re so close. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Four (at least) years of all-nighters, 15-page papers, and exam stress are almost behind you. Congratulations, you’re going to be a 2015 college graduate… What’s next?

Some of your peers will begin to take the plunge into the general workforce, but what if you’re looking to work in ministry? The qualifications needed for a ministry job can be different than those for a corporate workplace, and they also can be hard to define.

"So what traits are church leaders looking for from the upcoming generation filtering out of college?" [tweet this]

As a college student who has worked both for a church and a Christian company, this topic hits especially close to home for me. Here at Vanderbloemen Search Group, we work with both churches and candidates through the hiring process. As a result, we’ve gained a fair amount of insight into the characteristics that churches are currently looking for in their younger hires.

Here are the top five traits church leaders are looking for in 2015 graduates:

1. Knowledge

If you’re going to work in a faith-based company, non-profit, or church, you should have a handle on basic theology and the differences between denominations. No, this doesn’t necessarily mean tacking another few years of seminary classes onto your resume (depending on your role), but it would be beneficial to do your research and ‘know your stuff.’

It’s also important to possess self-knowledge to excel in the ministry workplace. Kingdom work is unique because it usually – if not always – is motivated by passion. So, what’s your passion? What area of kingdom work are you most excited to serve within? What are your gifts? Self-knowledge enables you to be aware of your passions, strengths, and weaknesses, which will in turn help you find the ministry job you desire and excel in your position.

Start now: You still have some time before you’re a 2015 graduate. Improve your self-knowledge now by taking personality assessments like StrengthsFinderLeading from Your Strengths, or the DiSC profile.

2.  Communication

The ability to write and express yourself well will set you apart from other 2015 graduates, regardless of the church staff position you seek. Articulating your thoughts intelligently is an invaluable skill that can be used in a myriad of ways on your future church team.

Start now: As you finish up your last year at school, look for ways to improve your writing, whether you’re writing papers or emails. Having a portfolio of blogs, articles, or papers you have written – especially if they are related to the church position you’re seeking – could help show your potential to prospective employers.

3. Initiative

More and more – especially in millennial-driven organizations – employees are being noticed less for their ability to complete tasks and more for their ability to seek out their own projects to undertake themselves. The “get it done” mentality is a vital trait, and it begins by not waiting idly for someone to present you with a project but initiating action and starting your own.

Assume that any ideas you have will not come to fruition unless you make them happen. Your fellow staff members may be incredibly supportive and willing to help, but having this mindset shows creativity and initiative, which are traits that cannot be taught and will immediately set you apart as a candidate.

Start now: Take the initiative to start a project on your own, whether it’s a service project, a project that helps your current student-body, or an extra-credit endeavor. Document the process and be sure to put it on your resume and talk about it in future interviews with church leaders.

4. Connectivity

2015 graduates may have an advantage over their more seasoned future coworkers in the area of social media and technology, which are both becoming more and more useful on church teams.

"Church leaders are looking for new hires who can further the connectivity of the church." [tweet this]

Churches often use twitter, facebook, email, etc. to connect with their church body and their community, and being well-versed in these mediums is a valuable skill.

Start now: If you are not yet using social media to its full potential, start by asking: Who are the thought leaders in the church and your desired ministry area? Follow them on social media, and soak up their tech-y wisdom. 

5. Flexibility

One of our core values here at Vanderbloemen Search Group is “Ever-Increasing Agility.” We always want to make sure we are being as adaptable as possible in every aspect of our lives and work.

"Being able to adapt is the deciding factor between the influencers and the influenced." [tweet this]

Without a doubt, your agility will make an impression on any future employers, assuming they are looking for a hire that will stick!

Start now: Brainstorm on ways to improve your agility or exhibit it to future employers. Maybe it’s taking a part-time job or internship during your last semester of school or maybe it’s taking a class that will be stretching and challenging for you.

Regardless of the church position you’re seeking, these traits can set you apart from your peers as you all enter the workforce in 2015.

What are other skills that will prove helpful for 2015 graduates looking to work on a church staff?

If you liked this, then you’ll also like Why Your GPA Doesn’t Matter: 6 Ways to Improve Your Relational Intelligence.