Monday, May 17, 2010

Unemployed Ministers: WSJ's Pastoral Perspective

Today's WSJ offers some observations about unemployment among the clergy classes. We consider the article interesting because of its subject, not its execution. But it certainly provides a starting point for opinionated discussion of the topic of careers in ministry, which we SWNIDishly consider to be massively misunderstood by most in the church, including many who are so employed.

So, gentle readers, we invite you to read and think, and you may discuss in the comments if it suits you to do so.


Bryan D said...

"Stiff competition isn't the only hurdle clergymen face. Each job comes with a laundry list of required qualifications that are sometimes more specific than is common in corporate hiring. "

This seems to be the kicker for me. When I rouse the courage to apply for church jobs, I retain less hope of getting an interview for an academic job. Despite the laws governing employment for the rest for the country (and biblical admonitions from Paul to Timothy), churches won't hesitate to discriminate against you because of your age, race, marital status, your "liberal" haircut, your over-education, under-eductation, education at a the rival school of an elder, or any number of "doctrinal" minutiae.

Even if you are considered, you are considered against a hundred or more other applicants. One church I was applying to posted that they had already received 80 or so applications in less than a month since posting the job and their interim minister was one of the applicants. I just wadded up the application and tossed it. Another recent response I had to a church application read like this: "If you don't hear back from us it's because we're not interested." That's the body of Christ for you. My fellow graduates in theology are having much better luck finding jobs in the academy, which isn't much luck at all.

Christian said...

I think that this, along with recent statistics that church plants now outnumber churches that close their doors foretells a shift in church staffing and structure that is coming in this country.

Many of my generation despise the extra-biblical burdens and requirements placed on their ministries and I feel that (among many other factors) will drive some of those changes.

I personally hope to work myself out of paid ministry and into helping pay for my ministry (which is preaching and teaching) and which I would like to share with others, even in churches that aren't large. Whatever happened to a word of prophecy to teach and encourage from two or three?

Morehart said...

Very interesting break down. From someone that has gone from ministry to working where ever...and then back into the ministry, it is extremely difficult.

I personally think that if a church was disciplined enough to know that they would have to let some staff go in 6 months that they would be able to creatively change some of their budgeting needs to take care of their staff.

The Ministry market is very tough right now. Especially for someone like me that hasn't held a ministry position for 6 years and is looking to get back in. As companies have tightened up on their job descriptions and searches, so has the church. Some churches now are looking for Student Ministers w/ an MA or even more!

Thanks for the link!