At Chemistry, we work with dozens of churches and candidates every day. That allows us to pick up on some trends earlier than most.
Here's one that I see: Most churches want a high degree of education and experience for every position.
We're looking for a worship pastor. She has to have five years of experience, and a master's in music pedagogy.
Or we're searching for a new youth pastor. We need someone that has a master's degree in youth ministry (from a school we approve of), five years of experience, and has organized at least three international student mission trips.
Don't get me wrong. Experience is great. You've heard that 'the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior or experience in a similar situation.' While mostly true, I want to make a case that experience sometimes comes at a price.
It's February. That means that there is a whole crop of Christian College and Seminary students ready to graduate this Spring. (Full disclosure, my son, is one of them).
In the Church world, we often agonize over the fact that, according to multiple studies, most teenagers drop out of the church as young adults. Yet we are reluctant to consider hiring those young people that have stuck it out AND have a sense of a call to ministry.
Let me be frank. Some of the young candidates we interview are sharp as a tack, have a great (yet still developing) ministry mindset, and possess a passion for Jesus that could put many of us to shame.
When you're ready to make your next staff hire, here are some great reasons to consider someone that's just starting their ministry career:
They're Eager to Learn
When you hire someone fresh out of college or seminary, you are bringing someone on your team that has been in 'learning mode' for at least the past four years. They've been studying ministry philosophy. They've been going to Bible classes. They've talked out their ministry plans, hopes, and dreams with their professors and their peers. Personal and professional growth is part of their DNA. And most all of them know that their best education is just beginning and that they'll learn much more out of the classroom in an actual church setting. That's been their goal all along.
Not only do most young people love to learn, but they are also incredibly teachable (yes, those are two different things). Most are looking for a church that will help them learn, and specifically, a mentor that can speak into their ministry life and leadership. They are thirsty for input and to learn from people like you that have been around the 'ministry block' a few times. And what's shocking, they'll listen to your advice and try to put it into action.
They're More Experienced than You Think
By the time young graduates walk the aisle to grab their diploma, some already have quite a bit of experience. It could be a part-time ministry job during college or seminary, an internship, or a residency program at a larger church. We are often seeing candidates that are 23 or 24 that have a solid 3-5 years of experience working in the Church before they graduate. Just because they haven't been full-time on a church staff doesn't mean they don't have any practical experience working with students, or musicians, or volunteers.
They Bring New Ideas and a Fresh Perspective
One of the best things about hiring young candidates right out of college or seminary is that they will come to your church full of ideas. Granted, some of the thoughts floating around in their head are great, and some not so great, but the introduction of new ideas is something that you often don't get with more seasoned ministry professions that have 'been there, done that.'
They Don't Carry Any Ministry Baggage
If you've hired anyone, ever, you know that if you've been in ministry at more than one church, everyone has baggage. Some suffer from burnout. Some were a part of a toxic church the last time around. Some took the first job available and landed a job in a church that was a poor fit for them. Most college and seminary graduates start their professional ministry career with a clean slate. No bad attitudes, no trust issues, and no illusions of grandeur.
They're 'Cost Effective' for Your Bottom Line
Now for the pragmatic part of things. From a budget standpoint, you can hire an entry-level, just out of college staff member for significantly less budget than it would cost to hire someone with much more education or experience under their belt. I never think that you should hire someone based entirely on budget, but fresh college hires are easier on your church budget, at least for the first couple of years.
Of course, hiring fresh out of college or seminary also has its risks. It will take more of your time to mentor, train, and supervise. They will make mistakes, and you'll have to cover for them from time to time. But honestly, we have to do that for all of our staff members to some degree.
One last thought. Each one of us had a start in ministry.
Someone took a chance on you.
Someone saw a glimmer of potential in you and took the risk on you.
And you're glad they did.
(They sure were smart, weren't they?)
Maybe now it's time to pay it forward. Take a chance. Invest in the next generation of church leaders.
The start of the year is the beginning of the college and seminary church staff recruiting season. We talk to many of these young people each week. They are impressive. If you're looking for a great new young hire for your team, we'd love to help introduce you to some. Let's talk.