The list of collateral damage caused by COVID-19 is long. Among the items on that list are the pastors who were looking for a job before the pandemic hit. Now, they are caught in job-search limbo, lingering between churches or between a seminary and the church.
If that’s you, please know I wrote an entire book to help you, a struggling pastor, make a godly transition, especially when the job market is bleak.
There are many things I’d want to say to encourage you and give you hope. I’d want to point out the goodness and sovereignty of God, even when life is hard. I’d want just to sit with you and listen to you rant if that’s what you needed at the time. I’d want to pray with you and for you and your family.
In addition to doing these things, perhaps one of the ways I could be most helpful to you would be to simply point out all the places online you might scour for potential jobs. If you’ve already been looking, you’ve likely already seen several of these before, but maybe a new resource will get your attention. Also, if you are in the EFCA, I’d encourage you to get in our Pastor Search system and reach out to your particular district for help. Often local districts have a sense of job openings even before they hit the internet.
Church Staffing tends to be the best place to look, as it seems to be the most populated. But there are other places as well, such as Church Staff Search and Church Jobs Online. The quality, however, decreases quickly after these. The top websites do receive a lot of traffic and thus, competition, so keep in mind you’ll likely have to move quickly and be very determined if you find a job you’re interested in.
Vanderbloemen Search Group, The Slingshot Group, and The Shepherd’s Staff are all pastor-recruitment firms for churches (i.e., headhunting firms). They also have job postings. If you talk with a hiring firm directly or end up working with one because you’re talking with a church that’s hired one, remember that recruitment firms work for and are paid by the church, not the candidate. The firm typically retains between 25 and 40 percent of the pastor’s first-year salary-plus-housing as well as travel expenses. But working with a search firm isn’t to be feared, as though the church will be reducing your salary to compensate. Having another motivated party involved should reduce risk for both candidate and church.
Additionally, The Gospel Coalition, a favorite organization of mine, has an online job board. It’s stuffed with opportunities.
I’m slightly hesitant to list the various church-planting networks because a few of them are outside the EFCA network, meaning they are firmly situated within a denomination. But I’m listing them because a few partner with EFCA churches and because I care more about your calling than brand loyalty.
Networks you might consider include Acts 29, Sojourn Network, Converge (formerly the Baptist General Conference), Sovereign Grace, the Association of Relational Churches (ARC), The North American Mission Board (SEND), and several others. You’ll find them if you look. In fact, some seminaries, such as Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, even have a church planting coordinator on staff.
Bible Colleges and Seminaries
Some of the best places to find jobs are through Bible colleges and seminaries. In such cases, the upside is twofold. First, by virtue of each institution’s theological DNA, the theology of the churches is already vetted, at least to some extent. This is helpful to both you and the churches. Second, churches often have staff members who are positively biased to hiring candidates from their alma mater. There’s nothing wrong with this. For both candidate and church, the hiring process is a risk, and anything one can do to mitigate that risk, including connecting people who shared theology professors, is a good thing.
The downside of finding jobs through Bible colleges and seminaries, however, is that often access is only granted to current students and alumni. Under certain circumstances, the gatekeeper will give you access. To find this gatekeeper, just call the school and ask to speak with the person overseeing placement or find him or her on the seminary’s website. If this leads to a dead end, perhaps ask friends to see if they can get lists from their respective seminaries.
Parachurch Ministry Organizations
Most pastors feel called to the local church—that’s what it means to be a pastor. But during this time, perhaps it could make sense to look more broadly by considering parachurch and missionary organizations. I won’t list many specifics here but likely every major mission agency, camp, and parachurch organization has their own job postings. This is true for places like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Gospel for Asia, and even the EFCA’s own ReachGlobal.
Benjamin Vrbicek (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is a teaching pastor at Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Benjamin and his wife, Brooke, have six children. He is author of Struggle Against Porn: 29 Diagnostic Tests for Your Head and Heart (Rainer, 2019) Don’t Just Send a Resume: How to Find the Right Job in a Local Church (Fan and Flame, 2019). He blogs at Fan and Flame. You can follow him on Twitter.