7 Ways Pastors and Church Staff Find Jobs

Thom Rainer
Thom Rainer

This post may cause some of you to feel uneasy. I have to admit I’ve had some of those same feelings writing it. I prefer to think of pastoral ministry as a calling more than a job. And I sometimes cringe when I write about seemingly secular solutions to Christian work.

Nevertheless, over the life of this blog the past several years, I have received countless inquiries from men and women seeking positions in churches. Many are frustrated because they feel like their applications or resumes go into a digital black hole. They never even hear from many of the churches.

So I asked a number of pastors and church staff about the processes they experienced in getting a new position in a church. To be transparent, I need to explain that a church pursued some of them without any initiative on their part. The vast majority, however, took specific actions that ultimately led to their being called or hired.

My questions were conducted informally, but I still think the responses are telling. Here are the top seven responses in order of frequency.

  1. They used an informal network of persons to recommend them for the position. That network included friends in ministry, denominational workers, and church members at the specific church that had the opening.
  2. They made certain their resumes stood out. They accomplished this feat in three ways. First, they asked knowledgeable persons to help them shape the resumes, and to proofread them carefully. Second, they looked at other persons’ resumes to see what everyone else was doing, so they could do something unique.
  3. Third, they made certain the resume addressed very specifically the position they sought.
    They sought an influential person to recommend them. Because the person recommending the candidate was influential to the decision makers, the candidate was more likely to be given more serious consideration.

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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