The Pandemic of 2020 has disrupted life as usual in more ways than can be counted. The impact on the job market has been especially pronounced. Those seeking ministry jobs may be impeded by regulations surrounding when and how congregations may gather to worship, and declining church budgets due to a decrease in tithing over the course of the past year. There is no doubt that it is a difficult time to be looking for church work. Ministers who are currently serving churches may face a decrease in salary or benefits due to the same issues. This is ironic because many ministers are working harder than ever to bring hope and healing and a sense of normalcy in spiritual matters to people during a difficult time.
Finding jobs in ministry has always been difficult. There are generally fewer opportunities than in other fields and the hiring process is long and competitive. Paired with the challenges brought by 2020, it is easy to grow discouraged and hopeless.
So what is a prospective or displaced minister to do in these uncertain times?
The key is to not give up.
2020 will not last forever. In fact, 2020 is almost over. We do not know what the next year will bring. But it is coming. And there is work to be done as, whether we like it or not, a “new normal” emerges. We are, no doubt, in a waiting period. But a waiting period does not have to be a stagnant period. A waiting period can be a time of growth.
The Apostle Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
Our calling has not ended just because churches and businesses are shuttered for the time being. We must press on.
What does it mean to press on in these times? What does it look like?
Here are a few ideas.
Do the work of the church in whatever way you are able
Doing the work of the church right now might mean holding a Sunday School class via a Zoom call. It may mean picking up groceries and dropping them off on the porch of the little old lady who sits on the front row. It may mean calling to check on the children in your children’s ministry or offering virtual tutoring to kids struggling with school redefined. Ministry is not just the job we are paid for. Ministry is the life we are called to live. Let us live faithfully regardless of whether or not it is our career.
Find other employment to carry you through
If you are able, find a job doing other work while you seek work in a church. It is best to try and prevent any gaps in your resume. It is not a lesser calling to work at a fast food restaurant or as a childcare provider. In fact, in my own experience, God has used these types of employment to teach me much about myself and others, and to minister to others in ways I never would be able to inside a church.
Continue to use online platforms to job search
While it may feel pointless, do not forsake your job search. Use platforms like Red Letter Jobs or denominational newsletters to find places that are looking for ministers, and apply! Do not give up hope.
My thoughts and prayers are with all people looking for jobs in this difficult time. May God bless your search!