One thing I don’t feel people do enough is to think about the fit they are looking for. I fully realize that in this job market often times the goal is to just find a job but you really do need to look for something that is best suited for who you are. I can’t tell you the number of times I received resumes from people who it just didn’t make sense that they were applying for that job.
Here’s a couple of things to think about.
1. Theology– Ok people I have to be honest with you. This matters. I can’t tell you how many times I get resumes from people who are serving in churches that are so theologically different than ones I work at. I’ll be honest and say I’ve been careless in this area too and have applied for jobs I had no business thinking about. You might say theology doesn’t matter as much. That may be true if you are at a non denominational or Bible church where they are similar but old mainline denominations have pretty big differences. My advice is to figure out what you believe. Any church you interview at is going to ask you tough questions about this anyways. Good to figure it out now.
2. Size of church- Some of us are meant to work at big churches. Big isn’t better. It’s just bigger. I’ll be honest and say that there are a lot of times I’m envious of my friends who are at smaller churches. There are a lot of reasons for this but bottom line is they are just different. You need to figure out what type of church you are comfortable in and don’t interview at the wrong kind of church. As an example I’ll say I am mostly comfortable at larger churches with multi-staffed youth ministry. My sweet spot is working on a team and delegating. It’s what I’ve always known. If I went to a church where I was the solo youth pastor (and I’ve had a few chances to do that) I wouldn’t probably flounder.
3. Your background/history- I’m in the process right now of filling a position. One of the people who has applied is someone who was in my youth group several years back. He has a leg up on other people applying for the job because his youth ministry background is similar to the style of ministry we run at my current church. As you look for jobs it is often helpful for you to think about the parts of youth ministry that have been most meaningful for you. If you love overseas missions trips make sure to go to a church that is about missions. If you are passionate about being outdoors and in the wilderness an inner city church with no mountains nearby is probably not for you.
4. The future- All I can say here is you need to think about your future and what you want for your life. Simple things such as living near family, raising kids in a particular area (assuming you have kids), doing things you love in places you love, going to school, committing for 20 years etc. You may not fully know what you want to do with your life but thinking through what is valuable to you and important is a step you want to take as you are looking for jobs.
5. Finances– Yes money matters. You may be single and able to live off of what the church pays but what happens if you get married and have kids. As you are looking for a job it’s probably helpful to pay attention to who the church currently employees. Are they a young church with mostly single people on staff? Do they have a lot of married folks with young kids. Do your research and figure out who they are. Even beyond kids too it’s going to matter. What if you want to go to school. Can the churches you are looking at able to pay you enough to afford it?
So here’s what we will talk about:
2. Think about your fit
3. Start writing your interview questions (you will be interviewing them)
4. Prep Work (be the most informed candidate they have)
5. Resumes, video introductions, cover letters and applications
6. Interviews: Presenting yourself well
7. Interviews: How to get a second one
8. Face to face to face to face. What to do when they bring you in for a weekend?
9. Negotiating 101
10. Negotiating 201
11. Seeking Discernment: Praying, asking friends, checking with family.