Pastor Search

5 Tips When Listing an Open Pastor Position

“We are looking for a God Called man to be Pastor of a church filled with STIFF NECKED people who will test you every day. This is a full time job with very little pay. Visitation in the community and with the members is a must. We can pay only $200 per week, however we have a parsonage – 3 bedroom, 2 bath, all utilities included. For more information please submit a resume.”

Believe it or not, this was an actual listing on one of the largest ministry job sites in the country. Someone posted a screenshot of it on social media a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t believe it was genuine until I went to the site and read it for myself!

The listing has since disappeared from the site, and I have no idea if it was a legitimate listing. Still, it reminded me that many churches don’t put enough thought into developing a quality listing for their open pastor position.

If your church is searching for a new pastor, here are five tips when listing your pastor position on ministry job sites.

#1: Proofread

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. However, there’s a difference between the occasional spelling error and a litany of obvious oversights. Unfortunately, I have read many ministry listings over the years that contained multiple grammatical errors. Errors that could have been easily corrected if someone had simply proofread the listing.

A listing with multiple grammatical errors has an unintended consequence. Potential candidates may interpret the errors as a symptom of a more significant problem, mainly that the church does not take the pastor search process seriously. As a result, some of your most promising candidates may not apply simply because the church failed to proofread the listing.

This mistake is easily avoidable. It should go without saying, but make sure you proofread your listing before clicking the “Post” button!

#2: State the Facts

Churches make mistakes with their open pastor listings usually by either providing too much information (more on that one below) or too little information. At the very least, churches should share the following basic information about their church and their position:

  • Is this a full-time or part-time position?
  • Where is the church located?
  • Would the church’s setting best be described as urban, suburban, small town, or rural?
  • What is the average worship attendance?
  • What are the minimum requirements for the position?

You may provide other information in the listing, but the items listed above are questions that every potential candidate will want to have answered.

#3: Keep It Brief

The opposite extreme is that some churches provide too much information in their listing. While you should include the minimum requirements, there’s no need to post the full job description in the listing. The essential functions of the pastor role are similar regardless of context. Therefore, the unique aspects of your pastor’s job description can be shared later.

You want to provide enough information to give prospective candidates an accurate picture of the position and the church, but you want to be as brief as possible. Whether you like it or not, the reality is that many candidates won’t read more than two or three paragraphs, and most will not read a full job description post.

#4: Don’t Create a Sales Pitch

There’s no need to provide a sales pitch for your church. Your goal is not to try to convince potential candidates to apply. Your goal is to provide sufficient information about your church so that candidates will prayerfully consider if they should submit a resume. Then trust the Lord with the results.

If your listing sounds like a sales pitch, it may deter some of your best candidates from applying, and it may come across as manipulative, inappropriate, or desperate.

The best listings simply share relevant information about the church and the position and encourage potential candidates to prayerfully consider applying. There’s no need to try to sell your church.

#5: Provide Clear Instructions

Once you have shared information about the church, make sure to provide clear instructions on how candidates can apply for the position. Provide an email address, mailing address, or web address for online submissions. If you require other items in addition to a resume, list them. These could include a cover letter, references, or sermon links.

You might be surprised how many churches fail to provide instructions on how to apply. Make sure that you leave no room for confusion!

Simple Tips, Significant Consequences

These tips for creating a quality listing on a ministry job site are simple but failing to follow them could lead to significant consequences. Make sure your church doesn’t unintentionally shoot itself in the foot by creating a listing that pushes potential candidates away rather than allowing the Lord to draw them in.

May God bless you in your search for a new pastor!

If you found this post helpful, check out my book The Church During the Search, which explains six commitments every church member needs to make to honor the Lord during the pastor search process.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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