Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hey Fletch … Good morning! I am searching for a church that has leadership development as its culture and focus. I just finished a seminary degree in Virginia Beach, VA and am wanting to make a transition to full-time ministry. I have a 30+ year career in government and public service. I’m a little stuck…any advice? I’m willing to relocate for the right opportunity.

DRF—If I understand you correctly, you are looking for a full-time position in leadership development, right? With more than thirty years in government and public service, I am sure that you have plenty of experience in working with organizations and developing people.

There are three ways to find a ministry position. The first is through networking. Perhaps half of all ministry jobs come through the network of your contacts. Developing a solid network takes time. You may want to ask the leaders of your church and your seminary professors for contacts. Talk to those contacts and get secondary, then tertiary contacts. I knew one person who did a several week road trip, talking to his network and their networks. He had three job offers in a couple of months!

The second way of finding a church position is through online job boards. To help folks like you, XPastor has a listing of major job boards and we also have a list of open church leadership positions. Often these leads put you into direct contact with the churches themselves. Make sure that you have a great looking resume. Check out the XPastor page of great resumes for some examples. 

The third way to find a ministry position is through a search firm. Slingshot and Vanderbloemen are the largest firms that help folks find church positions. On the XPastor job boards page, you can find their web addresses. Follow their procedures for sending in your resume and getting connected to their staff. Let me ask Monty Kelso, President of Slingshot, to respond.

Response from Monty Kelso—David is spot on regarding your best options seeking church ministry employment. I would add that the area of ministry that you are pursuing is one of great importance. Everyone is talking about leadership development these days. However, I know that very few churches actually hire executive leadership for the specific focus of leadership development only. In fact, in the eleven years that Slingshot Group has existed, I don’t believe we have ever engaged in a search for this kind of role specifically. 

Even though leadership development is usually expected to be a responsibility of most every director or pastor position, it’s rarely at the top of their job description. And furthermore, few staff leaders have any extra time in their busy work weeks to develop leaders at all, let alone well. 

I wonder if a more hirable role for you to pursue would be something like a “chief of staff?” This is becoming an increasing need in the church. In this role you would be able to build and fuel a staff culture whereby developing leaders (paid and volunteer) becomes more than a good idea, but in fact, an actual reality.

One emerging model for larger churches wanting to build a leadership pipeline includes the building of a residency program. This is where young emerging (and talented) leaders come from all over the country for a one to two year practical ministry experience. The oversight of these young leaders by the church’s full time pastoral and director level staff results in higher level of proficiency in specified core competencies relevant to their lane of ministry. 

Google “church residency programs” to learn more. I wish you the best. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to register as a candidate, free of charge, on our website.