It’s All In the Job Description

By Rebekah Bell

The very first impression a potential minister has of your church is often not how great the music is, how flashy the website is, or even how friendly the people are. For many, one of the first things they see related to your church is laid before them in a publication or on a computer screen, in black and white.

Often, the very first impression they have of a church is the job description.

What is a church asking of a minister? What qualities are important to the church? How much does the church value the time and energy a minister puts into their work? These questions, and so many like them, are often answered for a potential minister in a paragraph or less on a church or career website.

Job descriptions are often created as an afterthought – a list of tasks and character traits thrown together to entice potential ministers to apply. However, understanding that a job description says more about your church than what appears on the surface, simply creating a job description when posting a ministry opening becomes a much more serious and daunting assignment.

Following are some simple tips for how a church or search committee can get started on creating a job description for a ministry opening that reflects positively on their church, and effectively communicates who and what the church is looking for.

  • Assign Someone the Specific Task of Writing a Job Description

Elect someone in your church or on your search committee to undertake the authorship of the job description. Choose someone with good communication skills and who is familiar with the desires of the church as well as the responsibilities associated with the job being posted.

  • Be Realistic

Remember, ministers are human too. When writing the job description, do not look for Christ Himself. Take into considerations all of the obligations a minister has, personal and familial as well as responsibilities associated with your church. Asking too much of a potential minister in a job description is a fast way to get either no applicants whatsoever, or applicants who think they are too good to be true (pro tip: if they seem too good to be true, they probably are).

  • Proofread/ Gather Input

After the appointed church member or search committee member writes the job description, present it to the church or search committee for input. Discuss what each of you think is most important to include. Have another set of eyes read the job description for grammatical or spelling errors. Write and rewrite until you have a job description that the majority is comfortable having represent your church.

  • Put Yourself In The Ministry Candidate’s Shoes

Read the job description through the eyes of a potential ministry candidate. Is the language too formal? Off-putting? Is the church asking the candidate to do the impossible? Does it sound like the church is looking for the person God is calling to their church, or just a body to do the job? Ask these kinds of questions. Ask people outside your church what impression your job description gives them of your church.

  • Be Concise

While a job description is a representation of your church and what your church values most, it is not the place to preach a sermon or go into great detail about these things. That is what websites and interviews are for. When writing a job description, get straight to the point and say exactly what you mean!

Job descriptions are an inescapable administrative task that deserve time and energy. They should not be an afterthought, but central to what you do as a church or search committee.

May God bless you in your search.

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