Job Search Help For Youth Workers

Youth Specialties
April 15th, 2019

Spring usually means a lot of change is in the air. Perhaps part of that changes means you are interested in exploring possibilities for a new youth worker or ministry position, or even as a graduate from seminary/college and are looking for your first one. Either way, there’s some common themes that run through the practice of exploring and actually getting that new opportunity in ministry.

At the National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis in November, YS hosted a job search/networking kick off and got a chance to explore and identify key themes and conversations related to job search help for youth workers. Regardless of whether this is your fourth or first time searching, YS wants to encourage and support your journey by helping you understand these ideas.

Without any particular order, here’s some top themes and conversations as it relates to job search help for youth workers:

Know what you want, but be open to anything

What’s new direction? What’s your hope for a salary? What’s your non-negotiables? Is there a specific direction that God is leading? Inventory these things, but hold them with an open hand. You never know how things will shape as you begin conversations.

Leverage digital searches, online communities, and virtual profiles wisely

It would be foolish for us running the YS Job Bank to not feature our own fantastic resource, but there’s tons of others out there as well. Check out the Youth Cartel Job Board, Church Staffing, and even explore ministry search firms like Ministry Architects and Slingshot Group. Everyone is looking for the next best fit for a position or opportunity. All that matters is that you’re looking strategically and patiently.

Network with key influences in your life, but be strategic

You may remember the phrase, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” There’s some elements of truth in that phrase, but that doesn’t mean that will be what gets you into a position to accept a great next step for your professional ministry life. Identify a few key influences in your life and keep them up to date on your job prospects and opportunities. Ask if they can be references and advocates for you in new opportunities. Bounce ideas off of them for ways to better understand an opportunity and leadership dynamics. Lean into them for support and encouragement.

The next best step doesn’t always look the biggest or brightest

There’s a misnomer about next best steps in any career path that just because it looks bigger and brighter than your current opportunity, that must means it’s the logical next step. This isn’t always true, and it certainly has landed a lot of ministry leaders in toxic dynamics and disappointing opportunities. This is more about a theme of humility, and making sure you are focused on your leadership gifts, realistic goals, and expectations for what you can offer a congregation or organization.

A “great fit” means it’s mutual to both the organization and the leader

“You’re just not a good fit for our culture” or “we need someone better aligned with our community/congregation” might sound harsh, but trust a process when it’s said. If you are authentic in your leadership and representing well what you can offer a congregation, those blunt words might be the best thing that could happen to you. Pursuing a great fit means chemistry with both individuals and organizations, theological narratives, and spiritual vitality. Is it entirely possible that a church misunderstands themselves or a candidate? Absolutely, but both sides get to choose to move on in a healthy way.

Represent the type of leader you are today, and the type of leader you want to be

Obviously we all want to be great leaders (maybe that’s not obvious), but interviews are easy ways to demonstrate the type of leader you are, and also the type of leader you want to be. This isn’t being someone you’re not, this is shaping a vision for how you want to grow and how that can be a positive influence on a ministry fit. Churches hire people, not machines. People are supposed to grow.

And last, and not least…

Advocate for yourself and your family

This doesn’t mean that you have to ask for the most money, but maybe it means finding trade offs if salaries can’t always match what you expect. Find creative ways to make an offer life-giving for you and your family. Maybe it’s more time off. Maybe it’s a flexible schedule. Maybe it’s extended time for education/training. It’s all a conversation about what can be healthy for you. Healthy leaders mean healthy leadership in ministry.

What’s been your job search best practice? What’s been helpful and not helpful? If you could go back and do something different, what would it be?

Youth Specialties

Youth Specialties exists to elevate the role of youth ministry and the youth worker to grow the faith of the next generation.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.