All of us in full-time ministry have at least one job search under our belts. And many of us will change church jobs a few times during our careers.
Managing your search can be difficult. And when you're in the middle of a transition period in your ministry, you'll probably ask at least some of these questions:
Q U E S T I O N 1
Am I Crazy?
No one that I know of enjoys a job search. Church job searches can really suck the life and energy right out of you.
Here's why: Every church is different.
Every one of them.
Some churches have a search committee. In other churches, the senior pastor alone makes all the hiring decisions unilaterally. Still, other churches require a full congregational vote.
Some churches have a job description that is set in stone. Others have no job description at all or aren't really sure WHAT they're looking for.
Some churches hire very quickly. Others take months.
Some churches pay very well. Other churches pay poorly (for the seemingly comparable position).
Since every church is a different animal, job seekers are often confused to the point of thinking that they must be crazy.
The truth is, you're NOT crazy. But you've been thrown into a system that has no norms. Each church you apply to will very likely treat you differently.
Expect it. In fact, bank on it.
Some churches conduct searches really well. But many do not. It's the ones that don't that will make you question your sanity.
It's ok. You're not crazy.
Q U E S T I O N 2
Am I Good Enough?
You may remember the old Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley, whose catchphrase was, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."
But when you're looking for a new church job, it's easy to doubt your talent and worthiness. And even whether or not people really like you.
There will always be people that are more educated than you.
There will always be people that have more experience than you.
Honestly, there will probably always be people that are more talented than you.
And that's ok.
You need to find the church that's RIGHT for you.
At Chemistry Staffing, we are firm believers that if God has called you to ministry, He also has a place for you. Somewhere. Your search is the process by which you find out where that 'somewhere' is.
Sometimes, finding your 'somewhere' takes time. Most of the time, it takes longer than you hope or think it should.
The longer it takes, the more you may ask, "Am I good enough?"
You are. God has a plan (and a place) for you.
Q U E S T I O N 3
Am I Invisible?
One of the most frustrating parts of a church ministry search is the constant waiting for communication from a church that may never come.
Not every church you apply to will reply to you.
If you send your resume to ten churches for open positions and one church replies back to you, you're doing good.
Many churches don't communicate well with applicants to their job openings. Most are not trying to be rude. They just don't have a good plan for responding individually to the 100+ resumes they will probably receive when they post their job opening to a national church job board.
You won't hear back from many churches. It's not you. Really.
Don't let the lack of response phase you. Unfortunately, it's pretty standard. It's not you. You're not invisible.
Q U E S T I O N 4
Do I Have the Energy?
Many times when you're searching for a new ministry job, it's because you're leaving a stressful position or a church that you've discovered is not a good fit for you.
Sometimes you've been fired or forced to leave.
Other times it's just been a tough season, and you either feel punched in the gut or are feeling burned out.
Coming out of a lousy season affects all of us differently. But most all of us during transition have asked the question, "Do I have the energy to pick up and start all over?"
Sometimes the answer to the question is 'no' (or at least not right now). We frequently will recommend to a job seeker that he/she take a short season off from ministry to regroup and recharge. Rest and restoration is a good thing.
But most of the time, energy will return quickly with new opportunities.
If you question whether or not you have the energy, it's best to lean into that question. If you need time off, take it. If you find God is stirring up new energy and ideas and excitement in your soul, then you're probably wise to continue to search out new opportunities.
Q U E S T I O N 5
Is This REALLY My Calling?
Sometimes, tough seasons cause us to question our calling.
How many of your ministry friends from ten years ago are still in ministry today?
So here's the deal: It's natural to question your calling. And during ministry transitions, it's always wise to revisit what God has called you to do in the past, and what you think He is calling you to for your next chapter.
"Calling" means different things to different people. But the important thing is that a time of transition allows you to examine what excites you and what you're passionate about in ministry.
Your calling can best be confirmed through prayer, Scripture, and confirmation from other ministry colleagues.
Knowing and confirming your calling is incredibly crucial as you move forward for the benefit of you and your family (and your future church).
But don't worry. It's totally natural to ask the 'calling' question during times of transition. In fact, it's healthy.
Q U E S T I O N 6
Does My Resume Represent Me Well?
I recently asked over 300 job seekers about how good they thought their resume represented them.
62% said their resume needed some significant help.
Some said that they just weren't sure what they should (and should not) include on their resume.
Others weren't confident that the look and feel of their resume represented them well.
On the reverse side, 38% of people said their resume "ROCKS!" (Yes, that was the answer choice that I gave them).
Here's the bad news: most ministry resumes do NOT 'rock.'
The purpose of your resume is to get you job interviews. It's just that simple. Nothing more. Nothing less.
If your resume is not getting you a good number of interviews to start the conversation, then it's not serving you well.
The good news is that the resume 'bar' is pretty low, so a great-looking resume can rise to the top pretty quickly.
Q U E S T I O N 7
How Do I Know If a Church is a Great Fit?
At Chemistry Staffing, we've determined that there are really five critical factors in deciding whether or not a church will be an excellent fit for you and your family:
- Theology - Do you and the church match theologically?
- Culture/DNA - Do you and the church share the same culture?
- Personality - Does your personality fit the personality of the church and community?
- Skills/Abilities - Do you have the skills and abilities to do the job?
- Chemistry - Are these the people that you want to 'do life and ministry' with?
Miss one, and your ministry at that church will probably be shorter than you hoped for or expected.
Miss more than one, and it will most likely be a long, hard road.
The key is knowing what questions to ask to give you clarity in each of these five areas.
Q U E S T I O N 8
Who Can I Turn To As a Trusted Confidant During My Search?
EVERYONE needs a trusted confidant during a ministry search.
Your confidant must be able to speak truth to you without worrying about crushing your hopes or hurting your feelings.
(Please don't ask your spouse to take on this role. Spouses are an integral support-system during your search, but they cannot be totally objective with you all the time).
You need someone that will be able to be objective. Someone you can bounce ideas and different scenarios off of.
You need someone that will tell you the truth, no matter what.
Many times we hear from candidates that say, "I just have no one outside of my situation to talk to about this."
Our advice is always to find someone. Hire a coach if you need to. But going down this road alone is never healthy. You need someone to share the burden, someone to have the tough conversations, and someone that can encourage and give you great advice.
Q U E S T I O N 9
How Do I Make a Great First Impression on a Video Interview?
Things have changed dramatically if you haven't searched for a new church job in the last five years.
Most churches are conducting their first-round interviews (and sometimes second and third interviews) via video call.
Interviewing via video is much different than talking in person or on the phone.
And video, to be honest, freaks a lot of people out.
Of course, churches are embracing video technology because it allows them to see you and get to know you better initially. And the cost is almost always free. (It's a lot cheaper than flying someone in for the weekend).
Most churches are not doing in-person interviews these days until they are sure that you might be THE person for the job.
So video is REALLY important.
But there's no reason to worry. You CAN be good on video. You just need to be sure that your camera, backdrop, and audio are professional and that you are just as prepared as you would be for an in-person interview.
We've done thousands of interviews via video. Our number one piece of advice? Treat your video interview just like you would an in-person interview. Be prepared. Be engaged. Take it seriously.
Q U E S T I O N 10
What Am I Doing Wrong?
When your job search takes longer than you expect, the frustration begins to creep in.
Why am I not getting traction in my search?
I haven't done this for a long time. Where am I screwing this up?
What am I doing wrong?
Frustration leads you down a path that you don't want or need to go down.
The way you conduct your search will be uniquely you.
But there are best practices.
At Chemistry, we talk to hundreds of candidates every month that are in the middle of their job search.
Many are asking these ten questions (or at least a few of them).
We coach candidates during their interviews on how to present themselves better on their resume or in their interviews. We advise on what to tweak or change in their search.
But we don't have time to individually coach every one of our candidates through these ten questions. We wish we did.
So we've developed our first Church Job Seeker Bootcamp, which will allow up to 12 job seekers to walk this road together.
This six-week online 'Bootcamp' will walk you through these questions and, at the same time, give you a group of people you can confide in that are on the exact same journey as you're on.
We'll talk about how to revisit your calling and how to create a killer resume.
We'll show you where to look to find ministry opportunities that fit your talents and giftings. And we'll help you understand how to best work with search firms.
We'll work with you to help you interview well and nail your onsite visits.
We wish we could offer this Bootcamp to everyone. We wish we could offer it for free.
Honestly, this is NOT for everyone.
We're only looking for people that are dead serious about putting in the hard work in finding their next long-term, healthy church fit. (And it IS hard work.)
Matt Steen (my Chemistry Staffing Co-Founder) and I will be leading this first Bootcamp. You'll have personal access to us during these six weeks.
But more importantly, you'll meet some great new friends that are just as passionate about finding their next ministry fit as you are.
We'd love to have you join us.
We only have room for 12. Our first Bootcamp starts on July 7. (And a few of the spots are already taken).
The cost is $299. You can find out more information or reserve your spot here.
Can't afford the $299 or maybe the timing just isn't right? No worries. We have tons of free resources for you right here.
Let me leave you with this:
"You are NOT crazy, and you ARE good enough. God has a plan, and you're in it!"
Let me know if there is any way that I can serve you or your church this week. My email address is Todd.Rhoades@ChemistryStaffing.com.