Friday, March 10, 2006

Applying for a Church

Top Ten Things to Know When Applying for a Youth Ministry.

1. Your Resume is everything. Keep it short. Simple. An opening letter of interest of the position. The Resume itself should have your contact info, Philosophy of YM, Doctrinal statement, Education, Experience, Honors, and References. Usually 1 page for intro letter, 1-2page resume, and references. Make it professional. Check for spelling. Make them want to talk with you. Don't over do it though. Be concise and honest.

2. Have it in Writing. Get a description of the position. Is it just teens, children also? Pay range etc. If a church doesn't have any idea of what they are looking for, neither should you look at them.

3. Ask what the application process is. This is important. If you are looking for a position in the next few months and the church isn't in any hurry to hire, no need to send a resume. How soon hear back? Are they doing a beauty contest? Bringing in their Top 3? etc.

4. Demographics. Size of church, location. Region of the Country. Not everyone can be the Next Doug Fields in Southern Ca (I'm sure Doug doesn't even want you to be) but be who God called you to be. Know your own personality and gifts and where can minister (This doesn't rule God out, but also might clarify your Calling to a particular area ..if passionate about Inner City don't apply to middle of Nowhere Idaho. Get some info about the church, size, ages area etc.

5. Be professional. Apply for the position. Review the pros and cons of the area. When conducting interviews try to be concise and be prepared. Nothing like off the wall questions. Be prepared for whatever may come. Be prepared to give a lesson. Show your philosophy of ministry. Dress appropriately for the occasion.

6. Ask Questions. Not only answer them. But Ask them. History of the church. Budget. Leadership styles. Get to know much about the church as possible. This is a very much like a dating relationship - you want to know if compatible.

7. Get References. Not only for yourself. But about the church applying to. Ask for them. What does the local Y church say about the church I'm applying to. How is it seen in the community? Who else has worked or knows about the Senior Minister? etc.

8. Theology is a must. If you cannot agree theologically or methodology with a certain church - don't apply. Don't shape your theology to get a job but rather let your theology lead you. Too often what happens is politics and misunderstanding not over theology but of opinion, and yet some of this could of been avoided if understood upfront where the congregation stood doctrinally and in its methods to approaching that doctrine.

9. Pull your resources. Network. Know your friends. Know what is out there. Get those connections to help find the right youth ministry position for you.

10. Pray. (Should of been #1) Seek God's will in this. Applying for a youth ministry isn't an easy task. You want it to be for the long haul. Too many apply and accept the first church that has accepted them only to be looking again in a short turnover. If you do your homework, God has a place for you. It is far worth it. Youth Ministry is a good thing ... a job of which you can love God and love students.

-Gerrard R. Fess is a veteran of of a decade of youthwork.

Some resources to consult:

Applying For Your First Church - David A. Enyart
Genuine Ministers - Marshall Leggett
My First Church - Elmer Towns
Things They Never Taught you in Seminary - Deborah and James Bushfield

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