Will Preach for Food

by Dan Barnes on January 24, 2014 · 53 comments

I have been in vocational ministry most of my “career”, but I am not currently.  I have served on staff in 4 churches, worked for an Association, served as a NAMB appointed missionary twice, have a degree from Golden Gate, and lately I am wondering if I’ll ever be back in vocational ministry.  The abrupt exit from my last experience has done some significant damage, and my wife is not real excited about me putting my head back on the chopping block so to speak.  I have some scars and wounds, but I sometimes. . . . often look at SBC job boards.  I feel called, I can’t help it, I long to serve in ministry, and I spend much of my time off trying to connect with people, writing blogs and books and trying to help churches with Sunday School and discipleship.  I love Christian Education, I stalk Lifeway pages and articles.  David Francis is one of my heroes and I saw a coffee mug that said “Arthur Flake is my homeboy” and I knew I had to have one.  It’s in my heart, but the process. . . . can’t say I’m excited about the process.

My last position, I tried to be very honest and open about who I was, but I was still walking in blind to a room of people who were blind about me.  I moved over a thousand miles from where I lived to where I served.  They asked me about my qualifications, my credentials, my education, awards, achievements.  I have all those things.  Every church I served at has grown and I will admit that my contribution has been part of that growth, in some churches more significantly that others.  Opinions vary, but I am confident that I am good at what I do in the areas of outreach, discipleship, Sunday School and even in structure and systems, but that doesn’t make someone a good fit for a church.  I can organize a Sunday School structure for your church that will help your people, grow the congregation and empower people but you may hate my guts after a year.  Sometimes you can’t communicate on paper, they don’t come through a resume and you don’t talk about them in interviews.

I have flaws, I have hang ups, there are things I struggle with.  I sometimes disagree and I have pretty strong opinions.  I have things in my head that I am convinced will work, are right and are best and sometimes it causes conflict.  I am also very laid back, a little sarcastic and can be blunt, which is why I like Ed Stetzer so much, he makes me laugh.  I have a little bit of a warped sense of humor, which is why I like Dave Miller so much.  I don’t take criticism very well and I am pretty introverted.  I love to write, I am so happy that so many love my evangelism book, but I am very miffed no one wants to publish it.  I have my issues and my hang ups, many which don’t come up in an interview.

There is pressure when getting a “job” in a church to sell yourself.  There is pressure to sell the church to the candidate.  Then you get the job and there is all this expectation floating around.  People complain, because you are now an “employee” and you are paid, so there is this pressure.  When I served, in every one of the churches I was in people complained to me about the Senior Pastor, and many of them complained to the Senior Pastor about me.  You can never please all the people, so often what happens is you begin to focus on pleasing the “right” people.  The temptation arises to show favoritism to the big hitters, those with deep pockets and a loud voice on the church counsel.

Sometimes it stops being a calling and it stops being a passion and it becomes a job.  You have those who feel their job is to be your supervisor, sometimes it’s official (personal team, etc) and sometimes it’s people who are self appointed.  There is constant pressure to “produce” and make things happen.  Sometimes it’s simply things the people in the church want, even if you don’t feel God calling you to do any of those things.  A Pastor is now torn between his calling and his job.  We are suppose to care for a pastor so they can focus on the word, teaching, prayer and equipping the saints, but it never seems to work that way.  It so often just becomes about the job, the money, we pay him, so he should deliver.

Now I am sure some of you out there will comment how your church isn’t like that, how your position is perfect and I am either just lazy or crazy.  You can ask my supervisor where I work now, he would agree I am crazy, but he knows I’m not lazy.  Ask my last supervisor, ask the guys I work with, and ask other pastors, worship leaders and youth ministers.  They have to walk the line between teaching the word and managing expectations.  A worship leader has a desire to help people express love to God and pour out an offering, and in return, they get complaints about the music style, the tempo, the volume and if the bass player’s pants are too tight.  Youth pastors deal with angry youth, angry parents, rising costs of camps, gas and tickets.  The youth group wants nothing but fun, they parents want their kids discipled and the pastor wants to know why the budget is so high.  How do I know?  I’ve led worship, been a youth pastor, and I know the pressures of a lead pastor, I did that one too.  Most of the people I served with were amazing, they were great and loving and forgiving, but when things get hard, when the numbers aren’t there, the budget is short and the sermon goes a little long, the critics come out.  The justification for the pay check begins, and just like a football team fires the coach and failing schools ditch the principal, a struggling church often eats the paid staff, because making things work is their “job”.  Isn’t this what we are paid to do?

So, what do we do?  Can’t all just quit, you don’t want to look for a secular job with a seminary degree, trust me.  God took care of me for sure with mine.  Can things change?  Can we make the church less like the business world, with employee reviews, performance based pay, resume building and the dreaded interview process, or does it just come with the Western American Church?  I don’t have an answer, I wish I did.  I would love to see churches stop “hiring” and raise up leaders from within.  Men from the church become Pastors and Elders and are moved into the position because God’s hand is there.  No more packing up all you own in a uhaul and driving across the country because you have a solid resume, the right experience and a seminary degree.  There must be a better way to call the man to lead a church than the Forbes school of hiring executive.  What do you think?  By the way, anyone looking for a slightly used and beat up Sunday School guy?

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robert Hutchinson January 24, 2014 at 9:45 am

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3 (HCSB)

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2 Robert Hutchinson January 24, 2014 at 9:53 am

For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed?—?beyond our strength?—?so that we even despaired of life. 2 Cor 1:8 (HCSB)

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor 1:3, 4 (HCSB)

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3 Robert Hutchinson January 24, 2014 at 9:58 am

Don’t know where those “?” came from in the 2 Cor text. Guess I wouldn’t make for a very good scribe.

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4 Jimmy Sanford January 24, 2014 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the honesty Dan. After I was asked to “abruptly exit” my previous church both my wife and I went through several months of anger and pain. What suprised me most was that my wife was more hurt than I was. A friend introduced us to Ministering to Ministers a ministry for ministers who’ve been beaten up by churches. It was a big step on our road to healing. Their website is http://www.mtmfoundation.org.

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5 ocdinstructor January 24, 2014 at 10:48 am

I left bi-vo ministry in 2000 and have never looked back in regret. I am still involved in church and more involved in ministering to others than I ever was in my capacity as a pastor.

Drop me an e-mail, Dan: rick at richardjpresley dot com and I’ll be happy to have a chat with you on career transition. One of the things I do is career consulting (I helped our last pastor with his transition to a new pastorate and most recently helped place a Director of Development for Corporate Relations at our city’s United Way in her new position) and I would be happy to have a chat with you on resources and options.

Trust me – you don’t HAVE to go into insurance sales to find a career outside the pulpit.

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6 Doug Hibbard January 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm

I’d be curious to hear more about that–I serve a rural church that cannot keep, in the long term, funding a full-time pastor. There’s also not much in the way of jobs available, so I’m brain-storming how this is going to work. First 2 plans went splat.

And I know my eyes don’t see all the options.

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7 ocdinstructor January 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm

When I was in rural Indiana, I got a teaching degree at IU while substitute teaching in the Bedford-North Lawrence school district. One of the pastors that followed me was a full time teacher at BNL. Other pastors at the church farmed on the side (or pastored on the side, depending on how you looked at it), were retired, or had a second income from their wives to supplement.

I am currently a full-time instructional designer, but worked bi-vo as a Christian school teacher, lab technician, and technical service rep for a chemical company. Basically, I leveraged my technical training and background to find jobs outside the ministry.

In a rural area, look for opportunities to make money remotely online in things like software development, web development, content creation (writing), online training, DIY videos in an area of expertise unique to you. I know a guy who is drawing income from YouTube videos that direct folks to his DIY web site for homesteaders. He wasn’t in ministry, but was able to quit his day job and live full time off his web earnings and low-impact lifestyle. All of these are in the lines of going into business for yourself or doing contract work.

Another area is to start your own 501(c)3 not for profit and generate income for that, have the board hire you as an employee and pay you a salary to supplement your ministerial income. There are a lot of rural causes that need advocates. Some folks out in Missouri have built a business out of “onshore outsourcing” of IT folks to American businesses. In our county, there are a couple rural development organizations that have employees. And don’t forget supporting industries for agriculture. Lots of folks write articles for magazines, produce farm radio shows, and teach clinics on ag topics. There is money to be made there.

Or you could raise chickens for meat and eggs. I’ve done that. Doesn’t make much money, but it keeps the family fed and me off the streets. Kids have shown turkeys for 4-H for four out of the last five years and that gets them back-to-school money every year. Lots of opportunities to pick up a little here and a little there.

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8 Doug Hibbard January 24, 2014 at 7:19 pm

I’ll look in on some of those. The school teaching thing is out at the moment–local superintendent said he’d never hire another preacher again after getting a bum a few years ago–too much interest in preaching, not enough in teaching.

Thanks for the other ideas–and just a reminder, folks: you can scorch the ground for the next preacher that needs other work, or you can make it fertile.

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9 John Fariss January 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

Hi Dan,

Brother, your pain is coming through loud and clear. At the risk of overusing an already trite phrase, I feel your pain–but I am sure, on an order of magnitude less than do you.

I was always honest in “the process,” but eventually came to the point of answering questions that no one asked. I want the people to whom I am coming (or potentially coming) to know where the warts are at before the honeymoon wore off. The real problem has been the lack of honesty (or at least of full disclosure) on the part of pulpit committees. Example: after about 3 months at my first church, I discovered there was a lawsuit pending against the church over a wrongful death at VBS. When I asked the chairman of deacons about it, he replied simply, “We were afraid you wouldn’t come if we told you about it.” In other words, it was premeditated and deliberate, and speaks of an utter lack of trust not just in me, but in God. That, however, is my pain, not yours.

From what you have written, I daresay you are a little like me, and most of the other people who post here: despite the pain, you are driven to the ministry. It is, to quote (and slightly paraphrase) Jeremiah, “like a fire shut up in (your) bones.” In other words, it is what you live for, what you have come to love, and you will not be satisfied doing anything else. Assuming that the pain is worth it, both to you and your wife (and family?), the real question then becomes, “How do you (AND importantly, your wife/family) cope with the pain in order to fulfill your calling?” I found an answer to that, and believe that you can too. Am praying for you.

John

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10 Tim B January 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

“Church work” is just plain out rough. 90% of the time when you take a position the guy you are replacing was forced out. That’s a tough environment to step into. Whatever you do, be faithful to use your gifts whether you are paid or not. You were not called to a paycheck, you were called to serve the kingdom. When I was “ejected” from vocational ministry I got a job to provide for my family and found a church that was relatively peaceful and plugged into its total ministry almost immediately. It took 18 months for the Lord to send me to another place of “vocational” service. That new role was a great match that led to 13plus years in fruitful ministry before He moved me to a new role. Find a church where your gifts are needed and volunteer. Be an advocate for the staff they have and let Christ use you.

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11 William Thornton January 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I have some level of admiration for hanging your stuff out here for all to see, Dan. When things in the pastorate got rough a few times my wife would suggest my looking into associate staff positions. Righto…get the same pressure from folks in the church and also deal with an insecure, inept, or managerially challenged pastor/boss. No thanks.

The metaphor of a football coach that you use is apt here – don’t win enough games and you are toast, and that without the million dollar contract.

SBC clergy tend to see themselves as unique in regard to job pressures, forced termination, insecurity, and meager pay. We are not, of course. Also, and almost universally, our colleagues conclude that in many ways seminary did little to prepare them for the pastorate or other ministry. Thankfully, some state conventions along with some ministries and even megachurches (and LifeWay, I think) offer assistance in these areas to help the brethren avoid the same issues from church to church.

You have my sympathy and prayers.

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12 David Rogers January 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

RE: “I would love to see churches stop “hiring” and raise up leaders from within.”

I totally agree with you, Dan. This is one area in which we as Baptists (and most other Evangelicals) are not nearly as close to the NT model of church as we profess to be. And you are right on in this post. It marks so many people’s lives in a less than positive way, and is not in the long run conducive to biblical church health and/or growth.

I would love to see more people seriously think through the issues you bring up here. It would mean a revolution in the way we normally do things. But I think we are due for a good revolution, as long as we take care to not wound people any more than is absolutely necessary in the process.

More thoughts along this line from me here…

http://sbcimpact.org/2008/11/24/home-grown-church-leadership/

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13 Robert Hutchinson January 24, 2014 at 1:49 pm

“I would love to see churches stop “hiring” and raise up leaders from within.”

What if God calls you to pastor and the church you are a member of already has a pastor?

Honestly, I can’t think of a better way than the Lord’s church prayerfully seeking His will and the Lord’s servant prayerfully seeking His will and the Holy Spirit bringing church and servant together.

It requires obedient faith and a strong reliance upon the Sovereign One.

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14 David Rogers January 24, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Robert,

In a denomination in Spain made up almost entirely of gypsies, the Filadelfia Church, though they have a number of idiosyncrasies that I am not in agreement with, they have a model of raising up and deploying new leaders that I think is worth considering. In each local congregation, there is a senior pastor (or a team of pastors) and a group of young men (and sometimes not quite so young) designated as “candidates.” The senior pastor takes these men under his wing and trains them in the ministry, gives them opportunities to preach, places them in charge of home Bible studies, prayer groups, etc., and when the time is right, sends them out to plant new congregations.

Is it a perfect system? No. But they have seen great growth as a movement as well as a continual supply of church leadership as a result of following this system. I think we as Southern Baptists (and Evangelicals in general) need to give some serious reflection to studying models like this.

It would greatly revolutionize the seminary system, local association system, state convention system, etc.—which is probably why no one does it. But I am totally convinced it is more biblical than what we do now, and in the long run, if done with care and gentleness, would produce better results in church health and growth than what we see now.

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15 Doug Hibbard January 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I think the raise up, and send out to plant the “excess,” idea is one we really need to develop and deploy. This alongside a shift from the “must have one specific pastor” approach: there are three men here that work well together, pray well together, and love the Lord and this church. Each one has a different mix of gifts, and if they led this church together rather than having one pastor, this church would be in a better spot of reaching this community than they are with me here.

For now, I see one of my main goals as helping bring those men to that point. When they get there, I’ll have to do something else with my time. I’m thinking of stand-up comedy.

But this has been the case in several churches I have seen, and 2 that I have pastored: there are people present that could do the work if the church was not fixed on the idea of “hiring a pastor” from the outside to do the work. Something’s not quite right with how we do this these days.

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16 David Rogers January 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Totally agree.

17 Robert Hutchinson January 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Doesn’t matter to me if the Lord leads His church to call a person from within or call a person from without. As long as that person is the one whom the Lord is calling, I think it’s great!

18 David Rogers January 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Robert, I agree that the important thing is God’s call and anointing to go with that call. The problem is that the system that we have set up makes it so that the default mode is for a church to call a pastor from outside the congregation.

19 Jerry Smith January 26, 2014 at 12:49 am

I know there’s churches out there, maybe many or maybe few, that does not want the home grown boy who knows all about their life. If they had him they would feel uncomfortable every time they entered the church house.

20 Mike Bergman January 25, 2014 at 12:43 am

What if God calls you to pastor and the church you are a member of already has a pastor?

Then perhaps that church needs a pastoral team. When over and over we find examples in the Bible of a pastoral or elder plurality, yet can only defend a single-pastor model with deductions from silence, then it just might be that we’re not listening very well to the Spirit and word in structuring our churches…

Of course that also might play into the reasons why a lot of traditional Baptist setups are led by a plurality, they’re just called deacons, and they do very little serving and act more as a biblically dysfunctional group of elders.

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21 Robert Hutchinson January 25, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Then perhaps that church needs a pastoral team.”

Nothing wrong with that if the church can financailly support more than one pastor. However, most Baptist churches can not financially support more than one pastor.

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22 John Wylie January 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Let me make a confession here. Last week I had a major melt down in the church due to a conflict I was having with a part time youth guy. Without going into all the details I learned a very valuable lesson through all of this mess. I led this young man to Christ when he was 13 about 13 years ago. He is one of those “home grown” men that you speak of Dan. You know what the problem was? Me! I had started treating this young man like an employee instead of as a dear brother in Christ. We have reconciled and it is a wonderful thing. From now on this is my brother who is helping me and not my employee. I am ashamed I ever bought into the CEO model of doing church.

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23 Tarheel January 25, 2014 at 9:38 am

John, thanks for sharing that.

Lots of pastors do that, few seem capable of admitting it though.

Senior Pastors tend to get furious when the church views and treats them as merely employees instead of shepherds … but I think that very same viewing and treatment happens often toward other members of the pastoral team from the senior pastor…..also it frequently happens with office staff and interns too.

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24 John Wylie January 25, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Tarheel,

Thank you brother.

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25 Doug Hibbard January 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Dan, first I’d take you as the Sunday School guy, but you’d have to sleep on my couch and help me get the garden to triple output.

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26 Dan Barnes January 24, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Not much of a gardener but i bet we could come up with something together.

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27 Robert Hutchinson January 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Brother David,
As you well know, the system we have is local church autonomy under the lordship of Christ. There is absolutely nothing in our system that keeps the Lord from leading His church to raise up and call leaders from within.

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28 David Rogers January 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm

perhaps tradition?

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29 Dan Barnes January 24, 2014 at 9:02 pm

or american buisness models that we have come to trust in more and more.

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30 Robert Hutchinson January 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Why the Lord doesn’t lead the church to raise up and call all her leadership from within, I do not know.

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31 dr. james willingham January 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Thanks, Dan, for sharing your hardships with us, and it is evident that you touched a chord of sympathy, empathy, and yeah, I know what your talking about from experience. As some have already indicated, we know what you are talking about. This past Dec.29, 2013 was the 17th anniversary to the day, when I was fired from the church where I had served for 12.5 years. That day, they sang, Happy Birthday,” to me (My birthday is actually on the 30th, but they sang for those whose birthdays were in the week following that Sunday), and then sent my wife and I outside. When they called us back in, a deacon said, “Well, we did this for your own good.” Inside, the moderator of the business meeting said, “Well, we couldn’t find anything wrong with you, but we fired you anyway.” I answered, “Well, gentlemen, we will meet in eternity.” The chairman of deacons who was standing near by said, “O yes.” In about 10-11 months the moderator of the meeting was in eternity, and month or so after his passing the deacon who said, “we did this for your own good,” was also there. Last the, the chairman of deacons passed into eternity 10 years later. My wife and I cried for weeks. Anger, yes, we felt anger. I did. I kicked a tree. The tree took it good naturedly, because there was no damage done unto that worthy plant. My toe complained for sometime, however. Well, deep hole in the ground, to be truthful: It hurt, but was not broken.

Mention was made of the difficulty of getting a job with a seminary degree. Ha! Add a doctor of ministry to it, plus two more m.a. degrees and work on a ph.d. at an Ivy League, plus work as an instructor in history, philosophy, and political science in college and as a counselor in a Senior High School (1800 students and a good sized counseling staff. I was one of several career counselors, and the pathology of incest and pedeophilia was assigned to me due to my having written a paper on that issue in one of my courses for the m.a. in counseling. No full time jobs or churches. When it began, I was 56. The Summer after I received some words that really lifted my spirit, when our son said, “If you had not been faithful, I would not be where I am now.” (At that time, he was a student at SEBTS and was going on a mission trip to Kenya with his wife. When they returned they reported about 41 conversions, mostly won by personal witnessing. Now he is our pastor, where he was called a month before graduating in ’99.). To have a son say that is one of the most encouraging statements of support that one can receive. There is more, much more after 17 years, but I defer to others who also want to share.

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32 Greg Buchanan January 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Dan,

I’m praying for you my brother and also keeping both eyes peeled for you out here.

I’m tempted to give you 1/2 my pay so you’ll do Ed, I’ll do Worship, and we’ll share the youth… they need tag teaming anyway.

God would that I find something for you and your family here!

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33 SVMuschany January 25, 2014 at 12:59 am

I am in a different boat but up the same stream. As a 30 year old, single, man with no existing experience, I tend to get a little disheartened as I look at the job opportunities available. I earned my M.Div, and moved on to my Master of Arts in History, so that I have some foundations for a second (or primary) vocation in addition to the ministry. But as I look at these jobs posted, so many want experience, even the bi-vocational ones. I even have seen churches state that they “require” men to be married AND have children. My ministry calling seems to be so unique that it is very easy to fall into fear and doubt. What I try to remind myself every day as I finish my MA, is that God called me to do this, and HE has a plan. It may not make sense, it may not be obvious, but things will work out. All I can do is work on what He has given me at this moment (finishing my degree), and I should not worry about the future to the point it effects the current moment. It is hard when everything of this world is telling me I am going to be in some very big doo doo (the job market for historians is nonexistent). But where is (and should be) my trust? What the world says or in God? I am not perfect, and am not able to do it all the time, but I truly try to put it all on the latter.

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34 Jim Pemberton January 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

The picture paint is much of the Western Church. I have to note that the places that seem to have less trouble are the places where there is a lot of persecution. Where Christians are persecuted, false Christians are less likely to claim to be Christians and the ones who remain tend to focus better on what’s truly important.

I would love to be in vocational ministry, even with all the critics, tension, and political difficulty. That door hasn’t opened and I don’t get much in the way of affirmation that I should try to force it open. My church has a very deep bench and we have a lot of godly potential ministers warming the proverbial pews, so I figure I shouldn’t expect much there. I’d settle for a bi-vo position doing something and it would probably be better. Bi-vo probably lends an easier platform to teach truths that people get upset over but need to hear because they can’t destroy your life over it.

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35 Roger Simpson January 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Looking from the outside from 30,000 feet it seems to me like there are openings for pastors in SBC affiliated churches. There are 37 job openings in this week’s [January 23rd] Baptist Messenger. A few are for secretaries but most of them are for pastors, youth pastors, and music directors.

Every week the Capital Baptist Association [Oklahoma City, OK] publishes a list of “pastorless churches”. In this week’s list there are 16 churches listed. Extrapolating this the whole state of Oklahoma would suggest that there are 50 to 100 “pastorless” churches right now.

How does this square up with the idea that there are “no jobs” available for pastors? Some of the positions are “bi-vocational”, but even still, there are quite a few full time jobs available.

Roger Simpson Oklahoma City OK

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36 William Thornton January 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Around here, any decent sized church that can pay a FT pastor receives stacks of resumes. There is a glut of clergy and always a good chunk of folks who want to relocate.

Buyers market.

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37 Roger Simpson January 25, 2014 at 6:20 pm

William Thornton:

Wow, I didn’t know that there would be “stacks of resumes” piling up whenever a church is looking for a new pastor.

In recent years many college grads have had little job prospects due to the poor economy. All they got from their university training was debt.

Regardless of how realistic job opportunities are, at least most SBC seminary grads don’t have enormous debt because tuition is relatively low compared to other seminaries. This is due to the fact that the six SBC seminaries are partially financed by the cooperative program.

I really don’t know the likelihood of MDiv grads obtaining positions in the ministry upon graduation. Could someone shed light on this?

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38 John Wylie January 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm

If a person holds an MDIV they are in really good shape to get a church. One of the ways that you can get a pulpit committee to take a second look at your resume is through a pastor, DOM or someone the church respects recommending you to the church.

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39 Roger Simpson January 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm

I’m not personally knowledgeable about how pastors find positions. But I guess some of the same chemistry applies as in any other profession.

I’m a (now retired) software engineer. I used to manage a microcode development group in Silicon Valley.

I’d go with a group of other managers out on recruiting trips to talk to seniors at engineering schools. We would go out and talk to potential candidates during campus career fairs. We might invite 10% of the people we talk to on campus to an onsite interview.

Another way to bring people in to the business is to have them come on board during the summer and work as interns.

I guess the same methods could apply for new MDiv grads. You have to have mentors and you have to have someone hold your hand. It doesn’t hurt to have recommendations from the facility of the school you are graduating from. I know many SBC seminaries have “on site” training for MDiv’s (I guess they are called practicums) which would help you to connect to the real world.

When I used to talk to BSEE grads I’d have their resume in front of me. I’d look it over for two minutes before talking to them. If the guy (or gal) did some kind of project I’d ask him to tell me about it. Once I got him talking I could see in five minutes what animated him. I’d take him out in my lab and show him stuff. I’d show him our bring up stations, our logic analyzers, etc. I’d show him how we run test cases to prove if firmware is working. I’d show him how we set traps and break points and step through code. I’d let the guy talk to others on my team. After an hour [and after getting feedback from other guys in my area] I’d get a pretty good idea of whether this guy would fit.

You can’t just toss a resume over the fence and expect to hit paydirt.

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40 John Wylie January 25, 2014 at 8:14 pm

“You can’t just toss a resume over the fence and expect to hit paydirt.”

That comment is exactly right. A preacher can get a church if is willing to get proactive about it.

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41 Tim B January 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Guys who are searching need to send resume’s to associations in the areas where they are searching. It doesn’t hurt to introduce your self to associational missionaries. Churches receive resume’s from a lot of places but most of them go the associational office first.

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42 @jonwellman January 25, 2014 at 9:08 pm

I’m approaching two years in sales after being force terminated from my last music ministry position 2 1/2 years ago. The hurt fades with time, and God gets the glory. But it made me gun shy in a lot of ways. That has faded with time as well, but still springs up occasionally.

It’s a strange thing when a group of people who call themselves your family eject you from the family. That hurt lingered the longest.

My family and I are doing really well now, but it took time, prayer, and accepting that God knows exactly what He’s doing.

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43 John Wylie January 26, 2014 at 1:04 am

There is one thing that I would like to discuss concerning the homegrown model of church leadership and that is what about our Lord’s rejection at Nazareth and His statement about it? Didn’t Jesus say in Mark 6:4 “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”? How does that play in your view of the homegrown model?

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44 Jim Pemberton January 26, 2014 at 1:40 am

John, two things:

1) It begs the question that pastors are in the office of prophet. Today’s pastors are typically required to take on three separate roles: shepherd, preacher, and administrator. 99.9% of all people are not fully gifted in all three areas. But the office of prophet represented at best today is the function of the preacher. So Mark 6:4 may not fully apply.

2) I think Jesus’ statement here was more proverbial than prescriptive. That means that there is a general rule of thumb that might be observed in many cases to some degree, but not all cases. Paul sent Timothy to pastor a church outside of his upbringing, so I don’t think the homegrown pastor should be a steadfast rule. However, I suspect most NT ministers (pastor/shepherds, preacher/teachers, elders, etc.) stayed with the people they knew.

A church I had been preaching in some had a young man who was considering seminary. I told him he could be the next pastor of the church since the current pastor is already officially retired. He’s now in a local seminary and preaching in his home church on a regular basis. The people know him, respect him, and he would make a great pastor. He’s a far better fit for them than I would be.

As I commented earlier, my own church has a very deep bench. There’s just not enough hours in the week for everyone to preach who can. So most of us take our skills out on the mission field when possible. The only use for us is outward. That’s not a bad thing.

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45 John Wylie January 26, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Thanks for your reply Jim…Just for the record I wasn’t equating the modern day pastor to the role of a prophet, but if what Jesus said would have been true of a prophet it would seem to me that it would be equally true of a pastor. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule but it has been my experience that a man can have great difficulty in pastoring his home church particularly if that was the church where he spent his youth.

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46 Bill Mac January 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I keep starting a full article as a followup to this, but then keep abandoning it. The title would be: Will provide food for preaching.

I am an elder in a small SBC church far, far to the north of the bible belt. We’ve been without a pastor for a couple of years. The problem? We simply can’t afford one, not a full time one at any rate. We are doing OK with our men filling the pulpit, but I long for someone who considers preaching/pastoring a calling rather than a temporary necessity. We have a parsonage and can pay a little, but it’s tough, especially in our area. Most of the resumes we get are MDIVS with families and an expectation (not unreasonable) of a full time salary and benefits. That leaves us right out. I have contacted our bivo guy at the state convention and he assured us that he would pray for us. That’s the last we heard. I would suggest that the pastoral culture (the development and dissemination of) in the SBC is designed for the thick of the bible belt and leaves a lot of the fringe unaccounted for.

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47 SVMuschany January 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

That is so true. In one of the comment streams here recently the issue of rural churches came up, and it seemed that some people genuinely did not get the trials and difficulties of small town rural churches in non-SBC saturated areas. Where I am at in Missouri, I see similar issues. Unfortunately, unlike your situation, many of the churches around here, have unrealistic expectations of their applicants. IE, they are bi-vo, but they expect applicants to have a degree, xx years of experience, a “young” family, and so on. I would jump at the chance to serve a small church like that, even though bi-vo would not help me when my loans come due, but I don’t get the chance because I have no experience and no family.

Alas as I said in a previous post here, I have given up worrying about it. God will provide at the right time.

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48 Bill Mac January 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I think our folks expect some type of training, but not necessarily an MDiv. We have called single pastors in the past so that isn’t a problem.

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49 ocdinstructor January 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Interesting that no one has mentioned that there always seems to be more funds ready for a new church plant even if there’s an existing congregation in driving distance.

Maybe one solution is to start a new “church plant” and move in an existing congregation. That way you have missionary/church plant funds available to supplement offerings. At least for a while.

I understand why this isn’t acceptable, but I think it is interesting that such a financial disparity exists. Funds can be raised to start a new church but not revitalize an existing one in the same location.

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50 Jim Pemberton January 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

ocdinstructor,

I think you have a valid observation. The tension between church plants and revitalization is illustrated starkly by Steven Furtick, pastor of the Elevation Church network in Charlotte, NC, in his video, “Haters”. I don’t like Furtick’s attitude here. However, I think he’s addressing a legitimate concern. A lot of older churches with membership problems don’t want a lot of people joining their church and changing it. They have entrenched power structures and don’t want people who are going to challenge the status quo. Oh, they want more people to come to church, but they want those people to do church the exact same way that their church has done it for decades. Many new pastors have trouble because they try to change things too fast in churches like this. Now, the churches need to change because they are dead and still immersed in the moralistic Christianity of a generation ago. But it will take a measure of divine persuasion and wise leadership to make it happen. I think that just going straight to church planting bypasses the problem and leaves people with spiritual needs stagnating in their Christian walk as they move bitterly through their retirement.

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51 Chris Johnson January 27, 2014 at 6:27 pm

“Many new pastors have trouble because they try to change things too fast in churches like this. Now, the churches need to change because they are dead and still immersed in the moralistic Christianity of a generation ago. But it will take a measure of divine persuasion and wise leadership to make it happen. I think that just going straight to church planting bypasses the problem and leaves people with spiritual needs stagnating in their Christian walk as they move bitterly through their retirement.”

So very true! The pastor/elder must realize how to disciple instead of only deliver a 20-40 minute sermon. Begin to disciple and multiply biblical leadership, the Holy Spirit makes it all happen as pursued.

Matthew 28:19

Blessings,
Chris

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52 Jerry Smith January 27, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Mankind, even Christian mankind, hates boundaries & each generation keeps moving God’s boundaries outwards, yet God has not moved, remember, He is the same “…yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8.

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53 David Troublefield February 2, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Dan:

I just came across this blog posting while doing DMin research related to Sunday School administration tonight–and trying to avoid watching the Super Bowl with my Broncos being creamed . . . Hey, after 25 years of vocational Christian ministry mostly as an ME, I transitioned to a secular position as hospital executive last year with zero regrets. I had been interested in such a move for several years but needed the Lord to open the door; last spring, I joined a team of four other believers leading a nearby county hospital–the pay is very much better, the hospital is actively seeking to capture its future while providing exceptional holistic healthcare (i.e., a focus on heart, soul, mind, and strength . . . at my suggestion, because hurting people are more than only their physical bodies) to the residents in its area, and I am listened to and relied on greatly by the CEO and COO. On weekends when I am not writing a dissertation, I respond to invitations from churches to speak on a favorite subject–which, of course, is church growth/Sunday School related. Unless the 72% of all SBC congregations now plateaued or declining in terms of their numerical growth experience a turn-around and quick, many more pastors also will be serving in secular positions. If you are already there, make the most of it, I say! :-)) God bless you super-well this year.

And say “Hey” to Mike Bergman (formerly of FBC-Salado, TX, I think, when I was at FBC-Troy).

David Troublefield
Pampa, TX
YouNeedHR@gmail.com

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