There is no doubt that the church landscape has shifted significantly in the past year.
Probably more so than I’ve seen in my 30+ years of ministry.
Most changes take time. Years. Decades.
But COVID sent the church into a spiral of change… change that instead demanded turnaround of days, and sometimes (literally) hours to implement.
So here we are, nearly one year later, trying to make heads or tails of all of these changes. What changes during COVID will stick? What will play out to be temporary fixes or bandaids during a time of off stress and extreme volatility in the church?
The answers to some of these questions are, of course, yet to be seen.
But if you are looking to transition to a new ministry role at a different church during 2021, you’ll need to answer four key questions. Most churches worth their salt will ask you these four questions. And if you’re a good candidate, you’ll have thought out (well in advance) your answers to these four areas.
My advice: Write each of these down on a separate sheet of paper and start to write down your thoughts. Your answers could mean whether or not you move forward to a second interview. Here they are:
QUESTION #1: How did you respond to COVID in your current role?
You’ve just lived through nearly one year of extreme changes, pivots, and modifications to ministry in your current role. What did you do differently? What did you keep the same? What successes did you have in your ministry during COVID? You need to portray yourself as a person that ‘leaned in’ and didn’t ‘zone out’ during this pandemic.
As we ask this question during our interview process, we can pretty quickly sum up if COVID has energized a candidate or depleted every ounce of energy they had. COVID tended to do one of those extremes to many of us. If you’re one that leaned in, you’ll need to clearly communicate how you did that, and what the rewards were. If you zoned out, you need to prepare an answer that shows that you’re just not leaving one bad situation hoping for the next one to be better.
QUESTION #2: What are you learning about ministry during COVID?
We’re starting to hear this phrase over and over: “COVID has changed everything in ministry.”
In many ways, this is a true statement.
But when asked, you need to articulate what you’ve learned about ministry during this time.
What about COVID made ministry harder? (And how did you attack those problems?) And what about COVID made your ministry job in some ways easier? Where did you see small victories that you didn’t expect? What opportunities did you discover in ministry specifically BECAUSE of the pandemic that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise?
This is where the sheet of paper comes in handy. Brainstorming your answers to this question will help you articulate your learnings effectively. But this is a question you need to think on and develop a great answer for. If not, you’ll probably ramble when you attempt to answer.
QUESTION #3: What are you learning about yourself during COVID?
This is much like question #2, but more personal. What did you learn about yourself? About the way you minister and serve? Are/were you able to pivot well and adjust? Were you too set in your ways? Maybe you discovered a new skill or a new passion during this time. Write all these things down and then organize your thoughts.
Honestly, if you haven’t really learned anything during the past year, both about ministry, and you personally, you’re probably not a very good (or at least a very introspective) leader. List and rank your best learnings. Be prepared to share what you’ve learned about yourself and how you’re making yourself a better leader during this extreme time to do ministry
QUESTION #4: How will COVID change the ‘big C church’ moving forward?
Let me start here: Honestly… who REALLY knows the answer to this question.
BUT… it is the question we’re all asking. What’s next? What does this really mean for the Church moving forward? What will we still be doing differently in 1 or 5 years because of COVID?
On this question, you won’t be judged necessarily on your answer. Your answer is, quite honestly, an opinion. The reason for this question is to see what your outlook on future ministry is. Is it positive or negative? Are you bullish or bearish on the future of the church?
If you’re a worship pastor, how will COVID ultimately affect worship ministry? How will this affect in-person attendance in the long run? How does and should online ministry and worship service play a role? What does digital engagement look like? All of these are things you should be thinking through and able to articulate as a leader.
Same if you’re in youth or children’s ministry. Or as a Senior Pastor. What does the future look like? They’re asking you because if they hire you, you will lead the future (whatever that is) at their church.
As we’ve mentioned before, we think 2021 will be a major year of transition for many churches and many staff members. Be sure you’re prepared for these four questions when they pop up in your next job interview.
Because chances are… they will!