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95% Of Those Seekng Ministry & Church Jobs Make This Mistake

By Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck

 Avoid Church job hunting mistakes


Ninety-five percent of those seeking ministry and church jobs use unproductive methods for finding openings. On average, people change jobs eight to ten times (or more!) in their lifetime, so it makes sense to learn and use the very best job search strategies that can cut your job search in half.  In this article, we will explore how you can avoid using unproductive job search methods and instead plan your job search around using the best strategies in finding the right church jobs and ministry openings.

The Two Job Markets for Ministry and Church Jobs

There are two different job markets in which jobs are found: the advertised (or organized) job market, and the hidden (or disorganized) job market. Understanding and utilizing both of these job markets will allow you to find job openings much more expediently and efficiently.

The Advertised Job Market

The advertised job market is the one that is most familiar. It includes jobs that are found on the Internet on websites such as and, as well as through employment and recruiting agencies. The advertised job market is the most popular job market because it is the easiest to access. 

Other benefits include:

-The ministry and church jobs are organized and readily accessible for candidates;

-Ministries and Churches receive qualified candidates who would not have known about the opening otherwise;

-Job boards like the and allow you to set up “alerts” so that new jobs matching what you are seeking are emailed to you;

-Also, a niche job board, like is a website that provides a simple way for Christian candidates, churches and ministries to connect with each other. 

Because of it being so familiar, 95% of job seekers use job boards for the majority of their job search.  This can result in a much longer job search as only about 20-30% of jobs are advertised.  Knowing this information can help job seekers to adjust their strategies and limit their use of job boards to about 40% or less of their job search time.

The Hidden Job Market

Some job seekers have heard of the hidden job market, but few job hunters know the strategies for finding jobs that exist in it.  And even fewer understand how to create a job search plan for finding these jobs in an intentional manner.

While the majority of job hunters (up to 95%) seeking church jobs rely on the advertised job market, as was described, only 20-30% of the available jobs are advertised. As you can imagine, only using the advertised job market makes the job search process slower and more frustrating. Not only is there smaller percentage of ministry and church job openings listed online, but applicants will find more intense competition because of the large number of job hunters who use Christian job boards and other general job boards like Some job hunters even give up on their search for ministry and church jobs because they either see no openings on job boards for the type of work and location they are seeking, or they get no responses to the resumes they have sent.

The high percentage of ministry and church jobs that are available at any given time are found in the so-called hidden job market. The jobs are "hidden" because they are filled without churches advertising them on the Internet.  Finding these jobs involves a more proactive and strategic approach. Job seekers find out about job openings through talking with personal contacts and contacting employers directly (whether or not a ministry or church is advertising job openings). Phone calls, emails, referrals, and interviews are the keys. This market is more difficult to access but tends to yield much more fulfilling and rewarding work.

While many ministries and churches find that their investment in promoting openings on job boards is effective, there are other ministries and churches that do not use job boards and instead rely on referrals, networking and sometimes recruiters.  Besides the expense of advertising a position, a job posting online can bring in resumes from unqualified people. This occurs because there are many job boards that allow a job seeker to apply for a job with the click of a button and that results in unqualified applicants. 

Even when ministries and churches use job boards online, they also will hire people they already know, or people that are referred to them, or those who find out about the job openings and contact the church or ministry. Therefore, if you contact a church or ministry that has an unadvertised opening, you could end up being one of just a handful of candidates they interview for the position. The odds are certainly more in your favor than if yours is one resume among hundreds that are received in response to a ministry or church job posting.

How to Find Jobs in the Hidden Job Market

You may have heard the saying that it is not what you know, but rather who you know that leads to success.  There are many times that this is true related to finding out about ministry and church job openings.  But what is truer, is the saying it is not who you know, it is who you are willing to get to know that can lead to success in landing a ministry or church job.   

The way that this has worked for many of our clients is developing and intentionally carrying out an effective networking plan. A networking plan may look like this:  You contact Bill, letting him know that you are currently exploring teaching pastor jobs, and ask him about any churches that he is aware of that are hiring. You also ask Bill if he knows of any people who work at churches who would be good for you to contact. Bill may say that he doesn’t know of any churches that are hiring; however, he says that it would be good for you to talk with Andy because Andy works in a large church and may know of teacher pastor opening at his church or other churches. You ask Bill for the contact information of Andy and also if it is OK for you to tell Andy that you were referred to him by Bill. You then contact Andy and Andy says, “You know who you should really talk to is John.” You contact John and John ends up telling you about an opening at their church and how you can apply. 

The goal of contacting any given person is to get the names of a couple of other people whom it would be good for you to contact.  By doing this intentionally, you will learn about ministry openings about which you would otherwise not have known. Jobs identified in this manner would be examples of ministry and church jobs in the hidden job market.

These days most people have an online network (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) and an offline network. It is a good strategy to take a few minutes each day to add new connections on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social networking sites.  If you only have time to focus on one of these sites it is recommended that you use LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is the best place to network with people professionally. 

To add contacts each day, it is good to make a list of people you know who might be helpful in your job search. Add anyone that you know as everyone has a wealth of information that you can trigger by asking the right questions. It is impossible to accurately predict who will help you and who won’t. Also, remember ultimately it is not who you know but who you are willing to get to know. For example, a person that you introduce yourself to at church, could know about a ministry who is looking for someone with your skills.

Here is a trigger list of categories to help you brainstorm people that you know:

Family (parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, distant relatives)



Current coworkers

Past coworkers

Your significant other’s family and friends

Friends of your parents

Former and/or current classmates, professors, teachers

Builders, plumbers, electricians, hairstylist, etc.

PTA members

Association/society members

Parents of your children’s friends

Current and past coworkers

Church groups and members

Pastors, priests, rabbis and other religious leaders

Current and former employers

Former clients and/or customers


Professionals (Doctors, Dentists, Attorneys, CPA, Psychologists, Bankers, Veterinarian, Realtors, Insurance Agents, etc.)

Chamber of Commerce members

Owners and staff at stores you frequent

Most people can write down a hundred or more people whom they know.  Some of these people you identify will be on LinkedIn.  If you are not already connected with them, send them a LinkedIn connect request.  There will be other people you identify who will not be on LinkedIn.  These people will also be valuable for your networking.  Remember, networking will work for you even if are only able to write down a few people.

Other ways to enlarge your personal contact network include: searching online for those who oversee denomination headquarters; attending professional association meetings related to churches and para churches (here is a list of conferences from ShareFaith Magazine) and joining LinkedIn groups for denominations, pastors and other church job areas (examples include  

Once you have a good list of contacts, make it a goal to contact by email and/or by phone a few contacts each day.

When you talk and/or email people in your network, start by sharing a little bit about your work experience and skill that relate to your target job and then always ask these two questions:  1) Do your know of anyone that would be good for me to contact related to _____________jobs?  2) Do you know of any ministries and/or churches (depending on your job target) that would be good for me to contact?  If they provide you with any names ask for their contact information and ask if you can tell the person that they referred you to him or her.

Intentionally, networking with a few people every day or every week (if you are working full time) will produce results for you?  The key is to be persistent.

How to Find Jobs in the Advertised Job Market

Does this mean you should avoid using church job boards and other secular job boards? Of course not! The advertised job market does contain approximately 20-30% of available job openings, and they are organized so that it is easier to find positions for which you qualify.  You can also allow recruiters and church search committees to find you by posting your resume on sites such as and the  In addition, sign up for newsletters such as the’s newsletter and job alerts which will keep you up to date on new church jobs and other ministry openings.

Besides and the here are some other church job boards:,,, and

Another great way to find church jobs online is to simply google the type of job you are seeking and add the word jobs - for example, “pastor jobs.”  Google will then provide you with results that will include “pastor jobs” in your geographic area.  

Also, Google provides an option to “turn on email alerts for this search”. This is a great way to get updates as soon as new church jobs are posted online by any of thousands of job boards that have church jobs posted on them.

Planning and Organizing Your Job Search

In order to use your job search time wisely, it is of critical importance to get organized.  What this means is initially to have a plan that is based on using both the advertised and hidden job markets. Thus, if you have 10 hours a week for your job search, your plan may be to invest 40% or 4 hours a week using strategies that help you to find jobs in the advertised job market, and 60% or 6 hours a week using strategies to find jobs in the hidden job market. By thus dividing your job search time, you will greatly increase your chances of finding employment in a church job more quickly.

Doing an effective church job search campaign can involve making hundreds of contacts with employers and personal contacts.  Imagine how difficult it becomes to keep track of when you applied to different jobs, which churches you need to follow up with, the personal contacts who ask you to follow up in a week, etc. You might try to keep all this straight as notes or even use an Excel spreadsheet.  While there are many ways to track resumes you have sent, employers you need to contact and interviews that have been scheduled, one of the best resources is a web-based program called It is a funny name, but it’s a very effective program that will even send you email reminders for taking the next step with each employer, recruiter and/or personal contact that you have listed. There is a free version that you can use and also a premium version that has some added features. You can also use the premium version for 14 days for free when you sign up. 

The Importance of Persistence in Prayer and Action

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 17:20 says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

In Luke 18:1-8 we find the parable of the persistent widow who got justice from her adversaries because of her persistence. It is clear that prayer moves mountains and your persistent prayers to our great and good God will yield results.

The other side of prayer is taking persistent action. Persistence has been described as the greatest trait of a job seeker.  Tom Jackson describes the job search as looking like this: “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO YES!”  This description should be encouraging because:  1) Everyone is going to hear NOs during a job search.  Don’t take it personally.  2)  Every NO is getting you closer to hearing a YES as long as you are using the best marketing tools and job search strategies.  3)  If you want to hear more YESes, work on hearing more NOs faster. 

Without persistence, the job search strategies of networking will not work well.  Many a job hunter has given up because of discouragement.  Job search work is hard even when you are using all the best marketing tools and job search strategies.  But be encouraged that persistence in prayer and action will help you to find your next church calling faster.

Getting the Support You Need for Finding Church Jobs

Using these techniques to find church job openings effectively can maximize your efforts in finding a church job in less time. But remember--knowing this information is not enough; you also need to be persistent in implementing what you have learned. Finding a new church job is rarely easy; most people need support, encouragement, and accountability as they search. Create your own support network of friends, family, and if desired, a Christian professional career counselor/coach. For many people, a career coach has given them the winning edge in finding work that isn't just a job, but a calling.  You can schedule your own free career services consultation today.


Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck are National Certified Career Counselors and the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. Their websites, and feature hundreds of job listings from churches, ministries, and Christian employers; a resume bank; and many other career/job search resources and articles. They also offer career coaching and testing to help you discover work that fits your God-given design, as well as assistance with writing a powerful resume, interviewing effectively, finding job openings, and other aspects of a successful job search. You can learn more about their personalized career coaching by visiting their website and scheduling a free career services consultation.


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