When you are targeting specific church jobs (such as pastor jobs, administrative assistant, youth director, worship director, youth pastor, etc.), it is important to identify the key skills and traits that churches are seeking. Each church may differ in terms of its size, theology, denomination and location, yet there are consistent traits and skills that churches seek for church openings. Although not comprehensive, here are ten traits/skills that churches are seeking in the Christian candidates applying for their church jobs.
- Spiritual Gifts
All Christians have spiritual gifts. Churches want applicants who know what their top spiritual gifts are and how they relate to the church openings that are of interest to the applicant. Spiritual gifts related to leadership positions might include:
Shepherd/Pastor - Ability to nurture and direct the spiritual growth of a group of believers (Ephesians 4:11).
Teaching - Ability to comprehend and communicate biblical truths, enabling listeners to learn and apply God's word.
Leadership - Ability to set goals for the future, and to influence and direct others to accomplish God's work (Romans 12:6,8).
Completing a spiritual gifts assessment which are found online or in our book Live Your Calling, will help you in targeting the right church jobs and in answering interview questions related to your strengths.
- A Vibrant Faith
Churches want staff members who are faithful followers of Jesus. They are not looking for perfection, but instead they are seeking applicants who have an authentic faith that has been developed through the highs and lows of life. Congregations want to follow leaders who have experienced spiritual doubt, fear and failure and yet has trusted God throughout their life. An authentic faith is a faith that can empathize with church members and lead them into a richer faith.
A vibrant faith also means that church staff members are known for practicing spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, worship, fasting, and others) that help the pastor to grow in their relationship with Christ. This type of faith is contagious and will encourage those attending church.
- Personal Skills
Personal skills, also known as “soft skills,” are skills that are more inborn rather than developed. The personal skills that most churches seek for a pastor position would include skills such as being warm, friendly, empathetic, a good listener, problem solver, enthusiastic, gentle, persistent, ethical and trustworthy. Most of these personal skills relate to working with people individually and in groups.
Churches need candidates who already have the personal skills that are needed for the job. For example, when hiring an executive pastor, churches don’t want to try and teach a newly hired pastor how to be “detail oriented and organized” if those skills are needed for the job. They instead, they want an executive pastor who already has these personal skills.
If you are a Christian seeking a church position, look for personal skills in the job description. Then you can include any of them that are true of you in your resume and cover letter. Of course, during an interview those hiring for the position are going to want to see your personal skills on display. So besides describing how your personal skills help you in the position for which are applying, be sure to demonstrate and give examples of how you have used the needed personal skills in your work.
Demonstrating key personal skills also helps you make a great first impression during an interview. Since first impressions are formed in the first 30 seconds to 2 minutes of having met you at an interview, your personals skills (such as being reliable, hardworking, warm and kind) can help you to make a great first impression.
- Transferable Skills
Transferable skills are skills that are developed in work, school and life. They are skills that can transfer from one job to another. Depending on the type of church job, transferable skills may include teaching, planning, managing, counseling, leading, and others.
Transferable skill names are action words and typically begin sentences in a church job description such as “Conduct special training projects for children's workers” or “Organize and oversee an ongoing visitation and evangelism program for children and parents.”
- Content Skills
Content skills are knowledges that help people to do particular jobs like being a Christian Education Director. Content skills for this type of position might include knowledge of Christian education, the Bible, spiritual gifts, child development, evangelism, and spiritual growth. Content skills can be learned through formal education in college, as well as on the job and through internships. You can also gain content skills through conferences, online classes and reading books.
Content skills identify where ideally a person would like to use their personal skills and transferable skills. For example, a Christian Education Director might ideally want to use their personal skills of being organized and hardworking; transferable skills of planning and teaching; and content skills of knowledge of Christian education and child development within a church setting. Of course, those skills could also be used in other ministry setting such as mission organizations.
If you want help defining your personal skills, transferable and content skills, the CareerFitTest.com includes assessments for the three skill groups. The CareerFitTest.com will also enable you to use your results to explore jobs, make career decisions, write a winning resume, answer interview questions successfully, use the best strategies to cut your job search in half and ace the interview/salary negotiation process. Learn more.
- An Understanding of Weaknesses
Those hiring for church openings seek candidates who are mature enough to know what their weaknesses are and wise enough to ask for help when needed. A candidate applying for a pastor job may also commit to improving particular weaker areas to enhance their ministry.
While a pastor needs to be competent in the use of personal, transferable and content skills that are needed for the job, they don’t need to be adept at all the skills that are needed to run a church.
- An Understanding of Primary and Secondary Callings
While all of mankind has a primary calling to salvation and discipleship (following Jesus), we also all have secondary callings. Secondary callings are life roles such as being a husband, wife, son, daughter, sister, brother, father, mother, neighbor and a worker. The worker role, also a secondary calling is what we describe as one’s “vocational calling.” A candidate for a church position needs to clearly feel that God has called them to be a pastor or an administrative assistant or a worship leader.
A church will want to see that a candidate strives to keep their primary calling primary through intentional personal spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, worship and fellowship. They want candidates who “seek first the kingdom of God” to keep their primary calling primary.
If the “vocational calling” is to be a pastor, this role should be confirmed by references that a candidate provides and by the answers to interview questions. Those seeking pastor openings should be able to clearly describe a mission statement for following Christ (primary calling) and for being a pastor (secondary calling). They should also be able to describe their other secondary callings (husband, father, neighbor, etc.) and how they intentionally live out these callings. God doesn’t call any of us to be workaholics but instead calls us to a variety of secondary callings.
Churches want candidates who can clearly describe the needs that they feel called to meet. If you are applying for pastor openings, you can more effectively communicate your primary and secondary callings by writing mission statements that include the top skills (transferable, personal and content skills) needed for the work and the needs that you feel called to meet as a pastor.
- A Passion to Share the Gospel
Churches want staff members who are intentional about sharing the Gospel. They want pastors who don’t see the Great Commission as an abstract concept or something that others are supposed to do. The right staff members are Christians who are intentional about personal witnessing as well as sharing the good news in their “vocational calling” at work.
- A Visionary Servant – Leader
Everyone on staff at a church can be a leader. And Scripture teaches us that the word “servant” should be added to any church leadership position. Jesus modeled “servant leadership” as he humbled himself to serve mankind even to the extent of dying on the cross for our sins.
Some church positions emphasize leading by example or expertise. An example of this type of position could be an executive pastor who is often behind the scenes helping the church to be a wised steward of their financial resources. Other church positions, such as a senior pastor, lead more by directly overseeing other staff members and helping to create a vision based on the church’s mission. A visionary servant leader pastor ensures that the vision of the church is translated into clear goals as a part of a strategic plan for achieving those goals and visions. The pastor needs to equip, empower and encourage each member to take actions at an individual level and as part of the body of Christ for the church to achieve its mission and purpose.
- Excellent Verbal and Written Communication Skills
Whether the church job is an administrative assistant or a senior pastor, each staff member needs to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. These skills will allow church staff members to influence and motivate a congregation to live out the church’s mission and goals individually and as the Body of Christ. For example, a volunteer coordinator position would require the right person to communicate effectively in order to motivate small and large volunteer groups for fundraising, charity work, and a variety of community outreach efforts.
These are some of the key traits that churches seek in the right candidates. As you search for church jobs be sure to note the traits individual churches are seeking for their church job openings. If you have these traits be sure to describe them in your resume, cover letter and any other candidate materials that are requested. And when you are asked to interview, remind yourself of the personal, transferable and content skills that you want to communicate and the stories that prove you have those skills. This will help those hiring to see who you are and how your skills and experiences make you the right person to hire.
If you are interested in career counseling and/or job search assistance (including resume writing, LinkedIn development, interview coaching) check out our services and schedule a free career services consultation.
If your church has openings and wants to find great candidates, learn more about our unique job posting opportunities at ChurchJobsOnline.com and PastorJobs.Net.
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChurchJobsOnline.com, www.PastorJobs.net, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com, www.ChristianJobFair.com, and www.LiveYourCalling.com