As you might have seen from my post True Confessions part 2 I am considering full-time ministry. As part of this process, I have done some checking on postings from many sources regarding ministry positions that are currently available and I thought I’d share with you an extra post today to tell you what I’ve seen out there. If you are either in ministry or other church leadership (and I know that many of you are) you might find this interesting… or at least thought-provoking.
My sources for job postings were web sites that specialize in these things as well as job postings from Christian Colleges and Seminaries. I was looking only for Senior Pastor or Senior Minister positions i.e. preaching ministry, and there were way more openings than I ever would have imagined, all over the US and Canada. I very quickly discovered that the churches posting fell into two main categories: Churches over 200 in attendance and churches under 200, most of which were under 100. This second category was by far the largest.
The next thing that I noticed was that the churches with over 200 (some in the thousands) almost exclusively indicated that they feature contemporary worship and small group learning, while the smaller category churches almost exclusively feature traditional worship and class-based learning.
The third thing I noticed was that the larger churches listed fewer requirements while the smaller ones generally had more requirements for Senior Ministers. For the most part, they all required Christian College or Seminary training, but I didn’t notice larger churches requiring things like “must have a minimum of 10 years experience as Senior Pastor, must not smoke or drink and must not have been divorced.” (This was a church of 30 that also required the applicant be self-supporting)
The next thing I noticed was that the smaller churches very frequently want a Pastor to be the “primary focus of growth in the church” or other similar statements as though the Pastor is the one who does the growing by himself. Finally, I noted that the smaller churches have different service schedules than the larger ones. They seem to frequently offer services on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, while the larger ones usually have services on Sunday morning and sometimes Saturday night with small groups during the week.
The bottom line of all this…
I am interested in the smaller churches, and have been involved in turning one around from a small country church that was slowly shrinking into a church that is growing and as vibrant as any large church I’ve been a part of; yes it really can be done! In the event that I ever decide to go ahead and apply for these kinds of positions, and am formulate enough to have the opportunity to interview, I plan to make a chart of all the job postings on the list from which I found the church I’m going to talk with. It would clearly show what I’ve shared in this post. I’d also make another chart containing the same data from a quick survey of the churches in the area of the one I’m talking to. I’d probably blow my chances, but I’d love to have the opportunity to show churches that can’t seem to grow where they are missing the boat, and of course if a guy is going to be held responsible for growing a church, the leadership needs to know up front where the responsibility really lies.
Of course my own experience teaches me that you cannot grow an old church numerically until you first grow the people in the church spiritually; beginning with the leadership. It also teaches me that once you have done this, the people will do what it takes for that church to take off, to the glory of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. You see, it would seem that churches get stuck or start to die when tradition takes the place of spiritual growth. Attendance is only the symptom, not the problem.
Yes, I realize that this strategy would blow many interviews, but it only takes one “yes”.
I wonder, are there “church growth consultants?”