Tips for When In-Between Ministry Positions

Looking for a ministry position can be a lengthy process, and it feels even longer.  I know this personally; yet, as I look over the last nine months of my life outside of a church ministry position, I realize that there were a lot of things I needed to do and learn in order to prepare for the next stage of ministry.  Even if you’re not like me and don’t think you need the extra time, there are still some things you can do while you’re waiting anyway.

Do some self-reflection.

Make sure you are healthy. Sometimes we think the church was unhealthy and that the church was the problem to cause us leaving or for our termination.  Just like in any relationship, we need to step back and look at ourselves and make sure that didn’t do anything wrong.  What are some areas we need to work on as a leader, or even as a Christian in general?  Where do we need to grow?

Heal.

Most of the time, we carry “baggage” with us after we leave a church.  We need to take some time to heal.  I know this sounds corny, but I look at the stages of grief and think it’s the perfect picture of the series of emotions we go through and need to go through in order to heal from a church: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I add reconstruction to that mix, because in order to heal, sometimes we have to reconstruct a few things.

Read.

This is for a few reasons: It is not uncommon for a church to ask you what the most recent book you read was, and  you want to have the best answer!  Also, they may ask you what you’ve been doing to grow as a minister.  But most importantly, reading keeps you sharp.  Maybe books aren’t your thing–maybe you don’t have the attention span?  Don’t be discouraged.  Read blogs, keep caught up in culture and news.  Read for both education and fun. Pop open the Hunger Games, or I strongly recommend the Divergent series.    Also read for personal spiritual development.  Take some time to remember how much you love reading the Bible because you love God, and not because you have to get a lesson done.

Take a break.

You may be so hurt or burned out that you need to take a break, either from youth ministry, ministry in general, or even the local church.  I know that many of us say, “Well, God called me to Youth Ministry, so I need to find a new church as soon as possible.”  I don’t think that’s always so.  Youth Ministry can look a lot of different ways in many different forms, and working full-time in a church isn’t the only way to fulfill this calling.  Remember that if believe that youth ministry is your calling, it isn’t just a vocational calling, but a calling of a lifestyle.  You may be fed up with the church and need a break.  Everyone needs a sabbatical once in a while.  But try not to be disconnected for too long. God loves His body and calls you to love it too; and just like with your best friend, spouse, or kid: you might just need a little break to cool off.

Keep social media clean.

Don’t rant about how crappy your old church was on social media.  Don’t post anything you don’t want a potential employer to see, just because you’re not currently employed by a church.  I’ve had churches recount some of my blog posts from like two years ago, which shows they were mega-creeping on it.  One of my favorite youth minister friends told me that a potential church gave him a gift basket complete with all of the things he had Instagrammed about.  This shows that potential churches are watching!

Keep connected to teenagers.

Volunteer with a local youth group.  This keeps you sane as one who loves working with teenagers, but also shows potential churches exactly that: You love teenagers.  You can work with teens in a variety of ways, too: coaching a team, substitute teaching, local youth organizations or group homes, etc.

Work on the resume.

Update it, make it classy, show some personality.  There are a million resources out there and a plethora of people within our YouthMin Facebook Group who can help you make your resume too legit to quit.

Love on your family.

Love on your spouse and your children. Rekindle friendships. I needed the time to build up my little sister, who is going through some crazy transitions in her life.  Show your family that they are number one in your life.  

What other tips do you guys have to add to this list?

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13 Comments

  1. Heather this is a great post! I've been doing collegiate ministry for the last few years and am currently, by choice, "inbetween" positions so I thought I'd see what this said. I don't even know which point to comment on, they're all very well said! I think one "sub-point" you briefly made is hugely important though: "That if ministry is truly your calling, its a lifestyle." It's a great time to reevaluate your reasoning for the work. I feel that though I stepped away from my position, I'm actually doing more ministry with students than I had been with the organization. I have even more drive and more pleasure in it. This is an important thing to know about oneself because things will get tough again... that's just ministry. Great post and great advice! :)
    • hey Riley, thanks for contributing to the conversation! That "sub-point" is a huge soap box for me, so I'm glad that you see it as so important!
  2. Heather this is a great post! I've been doing collegiate ministry for the last few years and am currently, by choice, "inbetween" positions so I thought I'd see what this said. I don't even know which point to comment on, they're all very well said! I think one "sub-point" you briefly made is hugely important though: "That if ministry is truly your calling, its a lifestyle." It's a great time to reevaluate your reasoning for the work. I feel that though I stepped away from my position, I'm actually doing more ministry with students than I had been with the organization. I have even more drive and more pleasure in it. This is an important thing to know about oneself because things will get tough again... that's just ministry. Great post and great advice! :)
  3. Heather this is a great post! I've been doing collegiate ministry for the last few years and am currently, by choice, "inbetween" positions so I thought I'd see what this said. I don't even know which point to comment on, they're all very well said! I think one "sub-point" you briefly made is hugely important though: "That if ministry is truly your calling, its a lifestyle." It's a great time to reevaluate your reasoning for the work. I feel that though I stepped away from my position, I'm actually doing more ministry with students than I had been with the organization. I have even more drive and more pleasure in it. This is an important thing to know about oneself because things will get tough again... that's just ministry. Great post and great advice! :)
    • hey Riley, thanks for contributing to the conversation! That "sub-point" is a huge soap box for me, so I'm glad that you see it as so important!

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