So a couple of churches have asked my advice on hiring a Youth Minister. (Including one I use to have a ministry at, how weird is that?) So here is what I came up with. I'm also doing Top 10 Things to do When Looking for a Church. These will probably be published soon and revised to help both churches and youthworkers. - G.
Top 10 Things To Know when Hiring a Youth Pastor
1. Expectations. What do you expect of him or her? Have a Job Description. Contract. Purpose of Hiring – is it for shepherding your students, programs, evangelism? Specific role etc. The more you have this in writing the better. Have a good profile in mind. Do we have the budget? Sometimes it might be good to start with a summer intern (Usually you find these by interviewing in the Fall of that year for the Summer of next year on the Bible College campuses)
2. Theology. Theology is everything. You want someone who knows the Word, and meets the qualifications of a pastor and is on the same page and vision as the church.
3. The Interview process. Form a Search Committee. Know how the process goes. Advertise the position, look for good youth workers that are already in ministry. Communication with all resumes is key. No Beauty pageants. Acknowledge receipt of the resume – if know this person isn’t going further in the process – tell them thanks but not a fit. If looking at that person’s resume – tell them – they might have several options. Ask for references. With every response, and decision – always follow-up with a letter. Do unto others, as you have them do unto you. There have been several churches I’ve applied to never to hear from them again….
4. Questions. Be willing to ask them. Have a good committee do the research. Know your philosophy of youth ministry, as well as others. Be honest about your church’s past. What is your church culture? Ask and being willing to answer questions. Tele-conferences work well. Use the personal touch. Questionnaires might be good, but sometimes you read too much in between the lines or not enough. Some of the best questions that people asked me were: What are you reading, what do you watch on TV? What websites do you visit?, besides the regular questions.
5. Marketability – Check out sites as youthspecialties.com, churchstaffing.com, christianchurchtoday.com, some seminaries and Bible colleges, network with other ministers to know who is good and what you might be looking for.
6. Demographics – Have a history of your area, church, average age of the church, style of leadership, what the pay package would include: Health, retirement, book allowance, food, education etc. The more info and prepared you are for a youth minister for the long term – the better your church is. A good profile and portfolio goes a long way. Having this on CD isn’t a bad idea either. Include websites: List of schools, hospitals, about the area etc. The current church I’m at did this …invaluable information.
7. References – not only look at the applicants’ references but also give them referrals. References for all the staff. The Senior Minister needs to give his references as well as the church give names of other churches – both denominational and Christian Churches in the area to see what others say about your church. (Some churches might be scared of this – but it one of the best perspectives out there as well …what does the Community say about X Church I am applying to?)
8. Search Committee Make-up: Make sure you have some of your students, student leadership, church leadership and some parents on the committee. Gives a variety of opinions and aspects of interacting and seeing what type of youth minister you want.
9. Resourcefulness: How much are we willing to invest in this? The Hiring and transition process can be less painful if ask the tough questions. Do we have the funds for this position, how are raises given, do we have a budget so this person can do their job? Do we offer a book allowance, teaching, training etc, what benefits? Do we fly the person in, his family? Where will they stay, person’s home, hotel, moving costs? Etc.
10. Prayer. (This should be Number 1) Seek God’s Will. This is like a marriage – you want the staff member to work well with the other staff and volunteers and be in it for the long term. It isn’t easy but worth the efforts. God’s blessings and prayers are with you.
Gerrard R. Fess is a 11yr veteran in youth ministry. Married to Valerie. And has 3 children: Kendra, Nicole and Brian. He dreams of one day being a professional NHL zamboni driver. He currently is the Youth and Family Minister at Cary Christian Church in Cary, NC. He holds a BS from Roanoke Bible College, some Graduate Work at Anderson University and has written for many publications Including: Youthworker Journal, and the Christian Standard.
Some resources to consult:
How to Choose a Youth Pastor by Paul Borthwick
Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry – Doug Fields
Youth Ministry Management Tools – Olson, Elliot and Work.
Group Magazine Nov./Dec 2005. – 2005 Youth Ministry Salary Survey edition.
2006 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff - James F. Cobble & Richard R. Hammar
The Big book of Job Descriptions – Gospel Light
Things They Didn’t Teach at Bible College but you really need to know about Youth Ministry – Todd Clark
Youth Ministry Handbook – Edward A. Trimmer.