I have worked at two different churches full-time and have learned, through my experiences, how and what to look for in a church. I do not consider myself to be an expert but want to share what I have learned from my experiences of looking for a ministry position. When I first got out of Bible College, I would have jumped at anything because I did not know what to ask or what to look for. Now I feel more adequate in finding the right position because of some things that God has taught me along the way.
Here are a few ideas that you need to look into before taking a ministry position:
Are you in agreement with their style of ministry?
Visit the church several times before committing—and visit the ministry you would take responsibility for a couple of times also. The problem with some people is that they commit too soon because they are ready to leave their current ministry. This interview process should be taken seriously and with patience. The interview process for the ministry I am at right now took a total of three months—from the initial conversation until I was voted in as the student pastor. Patience can be a good thing. If you are going to work there full-time, you must agree with their style of ministry. If you want a more contemporary style, and they are not going in that direction, then it might not be a great fit. Likewise, if you want a more traditional style, and they are not going that direction, perhaps you should look elsewhere. Would you attend the church if you were not on staff? If not, why go on staff there? Eventually, you will get tired of trying to fake your excitement for their style of ministry.
Do you gel with the staff?
I have seen that a close staff means the bar is raised in your ministry! If the staff does not get along or does not agree, then the ministry will have a much lower ceiling. If the staff is close and in unison, the sky is the limit for what they can do working together. Will you be able to disciple one another? The staff that surrounds you will be some of your greatest personal disciplers. They also will become your closest friends. Make sure that you can have a strong relationship with them.
What is the church’s policy on changing things up?
If they are tied into a program, find out if they would be willing to change that program if it is not working. If not, be cautious—it could save you some heartache. I am not saying to go there to change everything; however, several years down the road, will they be willing to change? This is a difficult concept but necessary. Some churches want things done with tradition, the way that they have always been done, and are not willing to stretch and change. If they are not big on change, and you join their staff, don’t be disappointed when your ideas get turned down. Find out if they are willing to change.
Where is the church headed?
Vision is so important! I am learning more about vision now than ever before. I am learning that vision is more than an idea, it is more than just a burden—vision is a dream that can be accomplished through God. Find out where the pastor wants to take the church in five years. If there is no vision, the people will perish. Ask for a clear vision statement of where the church is headed. Find out as much as you can about the vision. Make sure that the vision lines up with where you would like to take the ministry. When the visions are alike, the sky is the limit for what the church can do in its community.
How does your spouse feel about the church?
Do not forget your spouse in the process. For me, my wife was a huge help in finding a position. I wanted her to personally enjoy it. This is important. If your spouse does not like the church, then it probably is not a good fit, regardless of how much you personally want to go there. Make sure that she is on board with the church. Get her involved in the process of looking for a position.
These are just a few thoughts on what to look into before taking a full-time ministry position. There are probably many more—these are just a few things that I have learned. The key is being patient with the position. Take your time to find out all that you need to know about the position before taking further interest. Listen to sermons online, read their website, ask people in the community about the church, call pastors to reference the church, and then ask the right questions to the pastor or whoever interviews you. I hope that this helps you make the right decision on finding the right position for your family in ministry.