by Mike Kupferer
In part 1, I shared six tips to help you through the beginning of your job search. As your search progresses, there will be a new set of scenarios to consider. In this article, I want to share some tips to help you during this next phase of your job search.
#1. Don’t settle for something you won’t still love in a year.
This is probably the toughest part of the search for me. It’s not tough at the beginning of the search, because there are so many other opportunities. But as the search continues the temptation to settle for something will grow stronger. I’ve had a couple instances where I was offered a ministry position with a congregation, but I knew it wasn’t a place I would still love in a year. One of the congregations had a great staff and wonderful people, but the age range was too broad, and I knew I would grow tired of trying to balance ministry to each group. Another instance had to do with the overall feel and style of the ministry. After visiting for a weekend, we realized it wasn’t a place we would attend if I wasn’t in their ministry.
You don’t want to settle for a ministry just for the sake of having a job. It won’t be worth it, because in a year you’ll start getting restless and begin the search all over again. Plus, you might miss out on the right ministry because you didn’t wait long enough.
#2. Answer interview questions well.
Answering interview questions involves more than just those questions you’re asked when you visit a congregation. It includes those written questionnaires or applications a search team will send you. You want to spend as much time thinking about the written answers as you will about the in-person ones. You can expect questions on specific doctrines, so be prepared and know what you believe. You’ll be asked about your spouse’s involvement with youth ministry. You’ll get asked about how you balance your ministry and family. You will probably get asked a few questions about your past ministries, both positive and negative. Spend time thinking about these questions and be ready to answer them, either in written form or verbally.
#3. Ask the search team or leadership good questions.
You need to be ready to ask the search team questions after you answer the ones they ask you. You’ll want to ask questions specific to the congregation, so do some research. Some sample questions include: How does the staff work together? What are the current youth coaches like? Why is the youth ministry important to the church? How are the parents involved with the ministry? What are the students/leadership looking for in the next youth minister? Can you tell me about the last youth minister?
#4. Be prepared for the interview.
There are two main types of interviews, with variations on both. You’ll either be interviewed over the phone or in person. Phone interviews can be more difficult because you can become easily distracted, so make sure you’ll be able to focus on the phone call. Since you’ll most likely travel for an in-person interview, keep in mind that the interview will actually include all personal interaction you have with the staff and congregation. You’ll have the formal interview with questions and answers, but everyone meeting you for the first time is informally interviewing you.
#5. Update your resume.
I’m not talking about just adding your current ministry to the section on job experience. You need to update all aspects of your resume, including rewording sections and modifying content. Once you’ve updated it and think you’re ready to send it out, let a friend look it over. When I send my resume, I also include a brief biography and a philosophy of ministry. These extra documents help the search team have a fuller picture of who I am, and it helps my resume stand out among all the resumes they’ll receive.
#6. Anticipate questions about your resume.
There are parts of my resume that I know a church will ask about, like the time in between ministries. Since I know this will cause a search team to have questions, I can be ready with my answer. Anticipating the questions allows me to have a complete answer ready, so that I don’t hang up the phone and think, “Man, I forgot to mention ______.” There will be some questions you’ll get that don’t come with a nice, neat answer. You’ll need to be ready with those answers, too.
#7. Be honest and genuine.
This is the second most important thing to remember when searching for a youth ministry job. You need to be honest with your answers, actions, and overall behavior. The congregation is going to hire you based on what they see during the interview process. If you put on a facade, it will not only hurt the congregation, but it will also hurt you. The only reason to be fake during an interview process is to impress the interviewers, and if you’re trusting God to place you in the right ministry, then you don’t have to be anything but honest. You’ll want the congregation to hire you based on who you are, not who they think you are.
#8. Trust God.
Trusting God during your search is the most important part of the process. There will be times when you want to speed up the process by saying yes, when you know you should say no. There will be other times you try to force a congregation to like you or impress them into thinking you’re the right minister for the position. As much as you will want to do those things, you cannot. You need to trust God. Trust God with your future job, to take care of your daily needs, and to lead through the entire search process. He’ll prove faithful, he promises!