Why Ministry Jobs Are So Difficult To Find
By: Vanderbloemen January 15, 2018
It isn’t your imagination; searching for ministry jobs is typically more difficult than searching for other jobs. There are many reasons why this is the case, the biggest being that the mission of a church is entirely different from the secular workplace.
If you’re currently searching for your next role in ministry and feeling discouraged, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Churches generally move slowly.
With respect to hiring, churches typically move slowly. As a rule of thumb, the higher up in the organization and the smaller the church, the slower the process goes. That likely has much to do with the importance of getting the position filled by someone who matches the organization, and amount of people who will be affected by the decision. Bringing in a 3rd party staffing firm like Vanderbloemen often speeds up the process, but the same rules still apply. We encourage churches to “Hire Slow & Fire Fast,” but they generally don’t need much guidance on the former.
2. It is not always clear from the job description what the qualifications are.
Having read through and written countless job descriptions for ministry positions, I know that even after many words, it still may not be clear what the qualifications actually are for a position. Even when searching for pastors for a role, it can be unclear what the committee will ultimately call qualifying and un-qualifying experience. If this is the case on the church’s end, how much more challenging is it for someone considering the position?
3. There is a Higher Calling of a ministry job.
No matter what we all plan to do, Jesus is still leading His Church. There have been many times when I’m convinced that a church is going to hire someone, and then after much prayer, they hire someone else. Though many people are entrusted with stewarding their churches, ultimately we answer to Christ, and His will be done. This often confounds highly-experienced pastors I speak with, not because they don’t agree, but were convinced they were the one.
The most experienced person isn't always the one who is hired, but it is always the person God wants to be hired at that time.
4. Pre-existing relationships regularly outweigh other criteria.
This is often the most challenging part of ministry search. Churches are entirely built upon relationships, and therefore, relationships have tremendous value in hiring. If you have been a part of one church for your whole ministry and haven’t developed a network of pastor friends, mentors, and colleagues, you will likely have considerable trouble finding a new ministry to get hired into.
5. Most churches value experience over potential.
At least in my experience, the business world is much more accustomed to taking chances in hiring – looking more at potential - than the church world. Even with entry-level positions, churches often seek candidates with previous experience. There are good reasons for wanting a proven track-record of success, but often those reasons become blinders for those making a hire. The old joke is that most churches want to hire an energetic 25-year-old student pastor … with 15 years of ministry experience.
These are only a select few reasons why searching for ministry jobs is harder than other jobs, though there are many others as well.
What are some other things that have made a difficult ministry job search for you in the past?