Now that I’m in my 40s, I’ve learned a little bit from my mistakes (so I’m on to all new ones). I suggest to anyone wanting to work at a church that you should answer four questions with a “yes” before having any serious conversations about employment:
1. Do I agree with this church’s theology?
2. Do I align with this church’s mission?
3. Do I truly like the ‘style’ of this church?
4. Do I feel a genuine sense of chemistry with the staff, especially my boss?
This will mean needing to ask a lot more questions during the interview process. It will also trim down the number of churches you apply to.
It may make your interview and/or transition time a little longer, but if you do your homework, you could save yourself the heartache of working in a church where you would otherwise wind up being hurt and disillusioned.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “But what if I can’t answer ‘yes’ to all four questions, and I still sense that God is calling me there because the church in question should change?” Great question!
If you’re considering a position at a potential church, make it clear to them which questions you can’t answer ‘yes’ to and why. Ask them if they are open to changing the things you’re concerned about.
If you’re considering a senior leadership position at the church, don’t accept the job without up-front agreement about what things should and will change. If you’re going to be a supporting staff member, don’t accept the position without knowing up front that the senior leaders agree with you regarding the things that should and will change. If you go into a situation determined to change a church that is just not going to budge, you’ll only divide the church and make yourself a ministry casualty.
The bottom line is that our spiritual enemy has painted targets all over those who lead Christ’s church, and he loves making our lives miserable. When he’s successful in dragging us down, we reach fewer people with the gospel.
There’s no sense in contributing to the difficulties of your own work in vocational ministry. Ask the right questions before taking a church job, because ministry is hard enough as it is.