MINISTRY STAFF WITHOUT MINISTRY EXPERIENCE (Part 1 of 2)
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
One thing you start to realize if you preach, write, or speak publicly often is that even when you come up with a creative and original topic or idea it's really not all that creative or original. You can spend hours in study, prayer, reflection, and pondering on your personal life experiences, but in the long run you find out that someone else has already communicated, at least in some way, what it is that you “discovered.”
Often times after a sermon you thought was unique, creative, and relevant a congregant will come up to and say something along the lines of, “That was a great sermon. I remember the pastor from an old church I attended preaching almost the exact same thing.” Or if you're a writer someone will comment after reading one of your works, “That was an excellent piece. You should check out so and so, they wrote an entire book on the same topic.”
This use to bother, but I think that was just the initial stages of ego trying to slip in. Now I embrace it. If I come up with something another has already addressed then it confirms to me the need for the topic to be shared and discussed. It's no longer a “bad” thing to me. I now use it as confirmation and a confidence builder.
Such is the case with this article. I have had the idea in my head for quite some time how churches can benefit from not going the traditional pastoral or employee candidate route and looking outward to people who do not have church or official ministry experience that can be very beneficial to the church, the staff, and the advancement of God's kingdom.
Well, just as I reached the point of initializing my thoughts into a rough draft form I came across an article on guess what? You got it, the very same topic. It was in my email and was sent from the Vanderbloom research group.
On October 2nd of 2016, one Nicole Cochran published a blog on vanderbloom.com entitled, “Why Non Ministry Experience Is Valuable On Your Church Staff.” I recommend looking it up. Granted, her approach differs just a bit from mine, I am still going to continue with this article using hers as a sort of sprig board but with my spin and aim. But again, I take the sign as positive. I am onto something that others have been contemplating as well.
So, what do you do if you're on a search committee and the candidate(s) your considering or interviewing don't have much, if any, experience working in ministry on the staff of a church? Do you immediately put their resume in the “move on” stack? Before doing this I'd like to ask you to take a second look, dig a little deeper into what exactly it is that they have done in their previous position(s). Of course one can't get around the fact that ministry experience is a very valuable tool in determining one's ability to work effectively in a ministry setting within a church staff, but what about the multitudes of those who don't yet have actual church ministry experience but yield a great potential to be effective workers for God and what God may want to do through your church?
Various positions can provide much needed talent and experience that would work well in a church staff environment. Many have worked in nonprofit organizations, faith based institutes, or even for profit businesses all of which can be valuable on a church staff. Some have managed people, businesses, provided compassion, developed excellent communication skills, etc.