Jesus is Unemployable

Standard

A church of 500 wants a new music minister. Qualifications desired? 12 years of music experience and a Masters in Music.

A church of 150 wants an associate pastor. Qualifications desired? Masters in Bible, proven success in a previous church, and correct answers to several questions about the relationship with your wife.

A church of 150 wants a senior pastor. Qualifications desired? Experienced preacher.

A church of 50 wants a senior pastor. Qualifications desired? A wife with musical abilities.

A church of 500 wants a youth minister. Qualifications desired? 7 years of experience in a church of 500 or more and a Master of Divinity.

A church of 200 wants a preacher. Qualifications desired? 5 years experience.

A church of 150 wants a youth minister. Qualifications required? 5-7 years of experience. Musical abilities. Bachelor’s Degree.

I think you get the point. As I began looking for churches to serve in while pursuing my M.Div., this is what I ran into. It seemed like every church I looked at had high qualifications desired. Some were as ridiculous as 12 years of experience for a church of 100!

My favorite out of the examples given had to be the one that said: “Qualifications desired? A wife with musical abilities.” How is that a qualification?! I guess that’s an easy way to narrow down the playing field.

As I was looking through all of these churches and what they were looking for in a candidate, I began to laugh. I thought to myself, “Jesus couldn’t even get hired at this church!” Wait. Does that sound right? Jesus couldn’t get hired at a church?

Was he married? No…
Did he have musical abilities? According to “Jesus Christ, Superstar” he did…
How many years of experience? Well…3 years of ministry…
How about education? He had it…we can assume…
Did his wife have musical abilities? Refer to the top…

It is quite startling. Isn’t it? Somewhere in the history of the church, we began placing higher and higher qualifications on ministers. Part of me is not opposed to this. I value education. I believe that we should educate ourselves as much as possible.

But as for the ridiculous years of experience…that is a little out of hand. There used to be a time when churches gave chances. That is one thing I love about my home church. They desire to hire someone without experience. They want to be able to give those years of experience to someone.

Churches seem to no longer want to take chances. Perhaps that is because they have been burnt. Perhaps it is because they are concerned about numbers. Perhaps it is because they think they are at a level where they deserve the best.

I want to work at a church one day that takes chances. I want to work at a church that looks at experience on paper and says, “So you don’t have a lot. But tell me what you think you can do.” The church needs to begin taking chances again. Not just within hiring pastors; but chances in general (another topic for another time).

So, if you are a church and you are reading this, give someone a chance. Take a risk. Isn’t there some sense of ego in desiring someone with 7 years of experience? Have we, as a church, begun to think of ourselves as advanced as needing that? Do we think we “deserve” that? It is rightfully ours? Is it okay to desire that because we are so big? The answer to all of these questions: yes. Because one person can destroy the Church. Christ’s bride is doomed if you hire someone inexperienced. Because those ministers involved in the affairs, embezzlement scams, and porn searching were all inexperienced ministers….weren’t they? Or were they ministers who worked on gaining years of experience and neglected integrity.

I’m happy that God looks at the heart and not at anything else. It gives me comfort. Whenever I read Hebrews 11, I am reminded that God does not desire 7 years of experience, a M.Div., and a wife with musical abilities. He desires us to want to be used.

So how is this doable? This sounds pretty, but it is not realistic. This would take too much time. We would have to call all these candidates. We would actually have to carry on conversations with them. We would have to treat them like people rather than numbers. In reality, we would have to give more attention to who we are hiring. And who knows…if we stopped looking at the years of experience a typical workplace desires, maybe we would hire Jesus (figuratively, of course…I’m not being literal. You see how this all connects to the beginning. It makes sense, right? I hope so.).Image

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10 thoughts on “Jesus is Unemployable

  1. Well said! I think with taking chances comes setting up proper accountability. If your new hire is inexperienced why not place an elder over them who isn’t? Why not set up measurable goals that can be evaluated (not just growth) and achieved? As much as some churches are lacking in risk taking, there are many more who are lacking leadership and vision, trading in risk for security. It wouldn’t surprise me to find while a church may want 12 years experience from a new hire, what they want more is someone to maintain status quo.

  2. Great post. That’s why the scriptures say in Revelations 12:11 that the accuser of the brethren is overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of the Testimony, not ones spiritual resume’. A de-emphasis of the spiritual resume’ can also be seen when Jesus said “I Never knew you! Away from me evil doers” in Matthew 7:22-23, because the man’s justification was his own works of the Spirit instead of Jesus’ Work (Unfortunately, people actually use this verse to come against signs & wonders). Regardless, Overcomers & repentant men like King David lead the people of God, not rule followers.

    And you’re spot on when you say we need to give people a chance to grow, because then we’re actually letting Holy Spirit work in them AND in the church by letting go of our hold of humanistic security. my. $0.02.

    P.S. – Let’s not forget that character is a major factor. Can’t just hire any fired up lover without a teachable heart. :]

  3. With any employment one asks for whatever, then has to chose from what is at hand. So, asking for experience does not mean one should not apply, anyway.

    What do you want them to say — “We don’t care, we’ll take anyone?” If so, then “anyone” could sue for not being chosen — the realities of modern society.

    Having a high standard helps ensure that when they don’t get all they want that the person they ultimately do hire will be open to an elder mentor as described above.

  4. CLT: Whatever church ends up with you is getting a gem. You probably don’t want to work at the ones with requirements like a wife, or a youth minister with 5-7 years of experience.

  5. Having gone through the search, I totally agree! The focus is way too much on experience and “proven track record.” I guess it’s our desire to be in control that leads us there. The beauty of my situation is that instead of moving on to a new church, I ended up getting hired part time at our awesome home church and we have incredible momentum going on! It’s both fulfilling and exciting, so I guess God knew what He was doing when he shut those doors in front of me!

    Blessings on your studies and future ministry!

  6. MAP

    Blundered by and I like your point. I would add that what you talk about with churches looking for ministers is a byproduct of what our churches are today. We often choose leaders who have succeeded in business, education, government, or nonprofits. We run the church according to the best knowledge of business, management, etc. The church becomes a club with activities for everyone, gyms, quilting societies, and senior days. I by no means advocate that current knowledge be tossed out simply because it is current, but we must remember that the church is an institution created by God some 2000 years ago to serve his creation. We need to search for leaders who first and foremost are good Christ followers, and operate the church to seek and save the lost and protect those God has added.

  7. Grear post, Caleb. I hope it’s alright with you, I shared this with our PorchCulture team because it really seemed to resonate with our conviction that there is no place in the Church for the elitist mentality. We are trying to instill in our people the belief that once we have accepted Jesus, we ARE a leader and have a responsibility as such. Placing these kinds of criteria on ministers we hire contributes to the Body believing the work should be done by the professionals. We’re trying to empower the Christians in our team to see themselves as qualified leaders, and not bystanders or observers. Faith requires action, and watching the experienced and educated do the work is not action.
    Anyway, thanks for making your point, it’s refreshing. I appreciate the way it sheds new light on a truth we are trying to impart.

    • Thanks so much for sharing. My hope in this blog is that it adds to conversation or helps get conversations going. I hope that it can be of some help. It sounds like what you are doing something great for the Church.

  8. Jonna DeWitt

    Caleb welcome to the ministry…We are so proud of what you have set your mind and heart to do. If it were not for SACC taking a chance on a new young couple who knows where we would be now. Thy wre just starting their search when we told them we had a month to find a church. Your dad, with Kevin and the elders were so nurtuing to us and led us by example. We were so blessed by them taking a chance on us and nurturing us to the people we are today in the ministry. God has a wonderful place for you to serve…keep your eyes and heart open and don’t get discouraged. We love you!

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