I stared at my computer astounded. I realized I was not alone. Many people feel what I am feeling. That’s always a comforting thought. But it also challenged me.
Why do churches have such high qualifications?
Why is it that no one has asked churches why they have such high qualifications?
Why would we even want to work at a church like that?
These, and many more, questions raced through my mind. I began to get upset. So, I decided to email random churches. I emailed them asking them a series of 5 questions:
1.) Why do you desire a candidate with the years of experience you have requested?
2.) Do you believe the Church places too strict of qualifications on a minister? Why or why not?
3.) Why is it that so many churches are looking for ministers with so many years of experience?
4.) Why will some churches only hire a minister if he/she is married?
5.) What, if any, are some alternatives that you look for in a candidate if that candidate does not have years of experience?
I want to sum up the answers that they had into one paragraph. Most of the answers were the same. Churches look for the years of experience because of church demographics or previous experiences. Most did not believe that churches place too high of qualifications on ministers. Churches want a husband/wife duo to help connect with the congregation or because they want a cheap music minister. Alternatives that are looked for are theological background/knowledge or lay experience.
These are the sum of the answers that I received from the churches that emailed me back. I’ll be honest: sometimes this frustrates me to the point that I want to do something other than ministry. I keep thinking that maybe there is a reason the Church won’t hire me. Maybe there is a reason the Church won’t hire you. But then I stop with the self-pity and I think: we have made a mess out of the Church.
The Church is not supposed to be a political structure…
a retirement home for the elderly…
full of pointless ministry meetings…
a formulaic worship service…
just an hour long…
or an entertainment show…
When we spend more money on technology than we do on outreach to our community, then we have messed up our priorities. When we spend more time discussing which ladies group can use the foyer rather than where to direct missions money, then we have messed up our priorities. When we spend more time writing a sermon than we do talking with people outside of the Church, then we have messed up our priorities. When we put such high qualifications on ministers that we end up discouraging young ministers to the point of them wanting to leave ministry, then we have messed up our priorities.
All this is said for this reason: so what that the Church won’t hire you? From the responses to the questions, it appears that churches don’t want to hire someone young. They want to hire someone with experience. But you want to know something? Church plants are willing to give someone without experience a shot. Because they want to try something different. They want to restructure the Church. They want to make it relevant to the community. They want to give a chance to someone because someone gave them a chance. Most of the church plants that I have seen are trying to make Jesus employable. They are trying to change the priorities of the traditional church.
I get excited about church plants because it gives me hope for the church in America. It is a chance to recreate and make things right (although, it is a chance to mess things up royally as well — which is why I pray heavily for church plants). So to conclude: the church won’t hire you because many churches have messed up their priorities (this is not saying that you, as a minister, are God’s gift to the church — I do hope you understand that). The Church is a mess right now. We have made it that way. Let’s begin to rebuild, recreate, and renew what the Church can and should stand for.
P.S. I have many friends involved in church plants — you should check out some of their websites and help fund what God is doing. It is a great opportunity to get involved with recreating the Church.
Here are 2 of them: