Whatever happened to…

Training within the congregation…. instead of always looking outside to fill vacancies? The reason I ask the question is because I am weary of sending my resume out to so many places with no encouraging results.  It made me think about the process as a whole.

Some churches do a very good job of training their own leaders (pastors) from within the confines of their own congregation.  So if a vacancy arises, then the potential candidate pool comes from within the church.  The church knows the candidate(s) and the candidate(s) know the church quite well.  This makes for an easier transition if a pastoral or staff position is filled from within rather than conducting a search outside of the congregation.

Then there are situations like mine.  I am in leadership currently at our church (I serve as a deacon) but there is no chance of me serving in a pastoral role here.  There are no vacancies and we are stretched financially.  Someone observed that they felt that like our church might be overstaffed, but that is one person’s opinion.

So, faced with this situation, I have no choice but to send my resume as opportunities arise.  I can understand that this can be somewhat uncomfortable for the church because they are trying to discern the will of God many times considering people whom they do not know or have a relationship with.  One of my professors compared a candidating situation to a dating relationship where each party puts on their best and tries to make the best impression.

I am thankful for the churches that take the extra effort to acknowledge that they have received my resume and other information that has been requested.  What is discouraging are churches that fail to exercise common courtesy in contacting candidates.  When you apply for a job these days, at minimum, you will receive some kind of contact, via email, snail mail, etc. initially.  Usually, this consists of a brief note thanking you for submitting your resume and that they will keep it on file.  If you are not chosen for a particular job, then you will receive another contact letting you know that you were not chosen.  Even though, it is extremely discouraging to receive one of these letters, nevertheless, it does bring closure to a particular situation and then the candidate can move on to other opportunities.

Between February 9th, 2010 and August 11th, 2010, I sent my resume to 10 different churches.  Three of those churches took the initiative and communicated with me by confirming that they received my information and they also sent the “thanks but no thanks” letters as well.  Three churches never acknowledged receiving my information and subsequently never notified me that I was no longer in consideration, I found this information out by checking their respective websites.

It appears to be evident that my way of meticulously scouring the internet and various ministry placement sites and responding to those that seem remotely plausible is not working.  Also, unless you have a minimum of five years of ministry experience, forget even getting an interview.  Churches are very strict regarding the five years of experience.  It does not matter if you have extensive experience in many areas within church ministry, unless you have the title and draw a paycheck for it, it is meaningless to most churches.

Back to the drawing board…


5 responses to “Whatever happened to…

  1. Throughout church history, there’s always been enough work – “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37)!

    But in recent years not enough jobs!

    • I agree. My issue is not necessarily about work… but the issue regarding churches training their own leaders from within the congregation instead of always going outside of the congregation to fill vacancies…

  2. I’ve often wondered about the phenomena of churches going outside of their own congregation to replace Pastors. It seems that in the vast majority of Baptist cases this is the modus operandi.

    In the churches with multiple (and generally lay) elders this is not the case. Maybe those churches are onto something.

    I can see in cases where there is little internal talent (rural churches, small churches, etc) that you would have to go outside to get the hired talent with the gifts for Pastoring.

  3. In a way the majority of the leaders of our church were trained within the church. Of the Pastoral staff, 4 of 5 are graduates of the seminary. Consider the deacons: how many are graduates of the Christian day school, and then the number of men who are grads of the seminary.

    • Jim, that is true, but look back to the two most recent vacancies that we have had on the pastoral staff. We went outside to find Alan Hodak and Pastor Morrell. If and when we have another vacancy, will we go outside or look within. Technically, the seminary is not a ministry of Fourth Baptist Church, we (the church) provide space for them. They are two separate entities. Regarding pastoral staff, the only ones that did not graduate from Central are Gary Blessman and Roger Kilian. The others all graduated from CBTS.

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