Because life is a series of edits

A Church for Everyone…Except for Me

In Calling, Church, Places & Spaces on February 3, 2007 at 11:37 am

As many of you know, I’m beginning the part-time/full-time job search for when we leave support in May. My tension here is trying to find a job that pays enough for our one-income family to live on (that is, eat and pay rent), while not having to work an excessive amount of hours in order to somehow stay full-time in seminary.

While I’ve not been at it too long (I don’t need a job until June), the prospects have been less than encouraging, both in terms of pay and opportunity. Honestly, I just don’t know how people live on minimum wage (or a little above), but I guess I’m on my way to finding out soon enough.

So, for kicks (and just to test the waters a bit), I applied for the role of “student ministries director” at a church (which will remain unnamed) here in town. While not my preference for reasons of possibly having to leave Memorial or to stop teaching at Wildwood (neither of which I want to do, and have communicated as much with my pastor and headmaster so they’re aware of my intentions), I figured it didn’t hurt to inquire.

What was the position? Overseeing the junior high, high school, and college ministries (approximately 200 students), something I’ve had ten years of similar experience doing at Eagle Lake, and written about (at least with regard to twenty-somethings) in TwentySomeone. While I tried not to think too arrogantly about it, I thought I might be a good candidate.

Earlier this week, I received a letter from the senior pastor of the church in response to the inquiry email/resume I sent him. At the top of the stationery was the church’s slogan: “…a church for everyone!” Here’s what it said:

“Thank you for taking the time to inquire about our Student Ministries Pastor position. It is obvious after considering your resume that you are passionate about making a difference in others’ lives. That is exciting!

It does seem, however, after carefully reviewing what appear to be your strengths, gifts, and ministry history, and evaluating these areas in light of what we’re seeking for this position, that we would not be a right ‘fit’ for each other. Thank you, though, for taking the time to prayerfully consider our staff position.”

Of course, this was the pastor’s prerogative and I’m sure he had his reasons (though I doubt very much they had to do with my “strengths, gifts, and ministry history” – I’m guessing denominational concerns were more the reason, and that’s fine). However, I did have to laugh at the irony of getting a rejection letter with the slogan “…a church for everyone!” at the top. It may be “a church for everyone,” but it’s apparently not for me.

Random ministry lesson #4,329: Give thought to the myriad of purposes the church stationery will serve before settling on some slogan too cheesy, happy, and shiny. (Actually – stationery or other – don’t settle on a cheesy, happy, shiny slogan at all.)

  1. I’m just finishing my M.Div. at Bethel Seminary, started in January 2003. The whole time I have waited tables at Red Lobster and it has kept the lights on. Not sure what your required income level is, but if you get into a nicer restaurant (I’m NOT calling RL nicer!) you can make really solid money and have a flexible schedule. Not sure how well it would pair with your family and schedule, your interests and skills, but it’s a thought.

    Big Chris

  2. Is there an evil marketing firm that comes up with these “cheesy, happy, shiny” slogans? Where do church’s come up with these things? And church’s with large marquee signs are the worst. I saw one the other day that actually said this: “Have it your way…NOT!”

    For what it’s worth, I hope you find a job, Craig, but I hope it’s one that doesn’t take y’all away from Memorial.

  3. Thanks for the tip, Chris. I’ve never actually worked food service (a fact I find somewhat strange in this day and age), but there’s a first for everything, I guess. There seem to be plenty of nice restaurants near where we live, but due to my lack of experience, I’m a bit intimidated.

    Nick, I’m not sure where “evil central” is in terms of church slogan creation, but I would bet it occupies office space in the church marquee factory. Leaving Memorial is last on our list of things we want to do, so thanks for praying something else comes about for us.

  4. Have you already looked into possible employment at private and/or public schools? Or would the hours/wages not be conducive to your household’s needs?

    It’s been my experience that schools are almost always looking for new people due to near-perpetual turnover.

    Yeah, the money is usually not great but the work is rewarding.

  5. 1. Food service can be a lucrative job. Exhausting both physically and mentally (it’s hard to pretend to like people who are demanding and rude).
    2. The church probably has a search committee for that job. And, they probably have a set list of criteria that you didn’t fit. Right now we’re on the search committee for our church’s worship pastor position, and we’re only accepting people who have finished seminary and have had at least three years experience working in a medium-sized church. We’re not picky about denomination, but it does come up in the follow-up questionnaire.
    All that to say that you shouldn’t feel discouraged about the youth position. And to say that a youth director’s job has horribly long hours and doesn’t usually line up with the life of someone with young kids.
    You’ll find something. I’m quite confident that God won’t let you be homeless or hungry. Dependent on Him, certainly, but maybe you’ll get to experience some modern-day manna.

  6. Matthew, my time teaching at Wildwood has been very rewarding, but I teach one class twice a week, so it only works out to about 10 hours a week. Not sure if there’s going to be another section of Bible offered next year, but I’d be up for it if they’d have me back.

    Chelsea, I don’t think there was much of a committee search for the position I applied for (their preference was for someone who had been to seminary, but it wasn’t a requirement), as I think it was just the senior pastor hiring.

    Like I said, I’m not taking it personally at all; I just thought the humor of the irony was worth sharing (and no, we’re hardly worried about this – we’ve been living on modern-day manna for 13 years now).

  7. Hello Craig,

    Yeh it’s ironic eh, a little black humor perhaps too? It seems that sometimes the very myopic lenses one wears will keep us from seeing the large and bounteous forest very well. Sorry to hear your experience here, sounds like you have a LORD trusting attitude, which encourages me!

    Not completely related, but a little, I have a recent note on my facebook re: ministry. I’d be curious to see what you think about it. I haven’t blogged much and I know I may be dramatizing……. but Frankenstein is real!

  8. Michael, I’ll try to get over there and read it.

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