How To Write The Perfect Pastor Job Description

How To Write The Perfect Pastor Job Description

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership 1 Comment

Trying to find the perfect pastor might seem like a never-ending search that just leaves you settling.

So why can’t you find the right person? Most of the time, the problem is the pastor job description. If it’s not engaging and descriptive, you might not be attracting the right people.

Once you master the fine art of writing the perfect pastor job description, it’ll be much easier to find the right leadership for your ministry.

Why The Job Description Matters

Shouldn’t you just be able to through up a quick description asking for a pastor, youth pastor, senior pastor, etc. and not have to explain much else? Sadly, generic sounding pastor job descriptions are all too common. They’re also incredibly easy to overlook.

Much like many other careers, potential pastors aren’t just looking for a job. They’re looking for a place to call home. They want a church they’ll stick with for the long haul and a community they’re happy to call their family.

If you have a generic job description or no real description at all, you’re essentially telling candidates that your church doesn’t care. Instead of investing time into attracting the right pastor, you’re happy to settle for just anybody.

Generic Job Descriptions Will Bring You Generic Applicants.

Your job description is what tells a potential pastor what to expect and why they should choose your church. It also helps weed out pastors who aren’t the right fit, which saves everyone valuable time. Imagine if instead of 100 applicants that didn’t really fit your needs, you got 12 that perfectly fit your needs.

That sounds better, right? This is why it’s important to create a committee to not only manage applicants, but create the initial pastor job description.

8 Mistakes Churches Make

Before you start creating the description, it’s important to take a look at some of the most common mistakes churches make in their job descriptions. Sometimes descriptions with the best intentions actually drive pastors away.

Some of the top mistakes include:

  1. Keeping it too generic
  2. Copying and pasting from other churches
  3. Keeping responsibilities vague
  4. Listing unrealistic qualifications
  5. Not talking about your church
  6. Asking too much from candidates
  7. Not listing soft skills
  8. Not listing any salary and/or hours details

We’ve already talked about the problems with a generic description. When it’s too generic, no one really knows what you’re looking for and that’s not helpful for candidates or your church.

You might be incredibly busy. Copying and pasting a description from another church saves you hours, but that description is written for another church. It talks about their needs and their pastor’s responsibilities. This isn’t a description of the pastor your church needs.

Any applicant to any job description wants to know what their responsibilities will be before they apply. While you can’t list every little responsibility, list the main ones. Otherwise, you might lose candidates during the interview process over this.

It’s not unusual to want the perfect pastor, but there was only ever one perfect pastor and that was Jesus. No one else can wear that crown. Sadly, 91% of pastors experience burnout when they try to be perfect. And, 75% say they’re always extremely stressed. When your description calls for perfection, it’ll just drive great pastors away.

Often times, copying and pasting or opting for a generic description is the reason you don’t talk much about your church. Remember, you want this to be their new home. Talk about your church. Let them know what’s special about it.

Your Church Is Unique… Take The Time To Write A Unique Job Description

On the opposite end of vague responsibilities is the pastor job description that includes everything and a few dozen kitchen sinks. No one can handle every task in your church. If the responsibilities seem overwhelming, it may be a sign you need a bigger staff.

Soft skills are often overlooked in all types of job descriptions. However, this helps explain more about the type of pastor you’re looking for. For instance, you might list “storyteller” versus just “good communication” to explain the types of sermons your members are looking for. You don’t have to list every soft skill, but list your top three or four at least.

Pastors have to make a living and they don’t want to waste their time applying and going to interviews if the pay is far below what they need to support themselves and their family. They also want to know how much they’re required to work. Leaving these details out is a big no-no.

4 Things Potential Pastors Look For

When you’re writing your perfect pastor job description, you want something that appeals to potential pastors. This means you need to think like a pastor. Ideally, you’ll want a pastor on your pastor search committee to help you write a description that appeals to their needs.

A few things to include are:

  • Realistic qualifications (including accepting younger, less experienced pastors)
  • Base salary (it’s all negotiable from here)
  • Realistic hours (not 60 or 70 hours a week)
  • Engaging copy

We’ve mentioned the importance of realistic qualifications. What we didn’t talk about was the need to make the description appealing to all ages. Yes, you want someone experienced, but that doesn’t mean a younger pastor with only a few years under their belt is any less perfect for your church than the pastor with 30 years’ experience. You might just find a mixture of ages in your leadership does make a positive difference.

You don’t have to (and never really should) list the exact amount you’re willing to pay a potential new pastor. Instead, list your base salary. This is a guarantee and amounts are negotiable from there. It gives pastors an idea of what to expect going in.

In a 2016 survey, over 50% of pastors said they felt overworked and regularly worked 55 hours or more a week. Pastors love what they do, but they also have a life outside of ministry. They have a family, friends and hobbies. Asking them to work 24/7 only leads to burnout, anxiety, sadness and depression.

Over Half of all Pastors say they feel overworked.

A good rule to remember is if you’re asking your church staff to work 50 hours or more a week, it may be time to hire more staff, outsource some tasks or train volunteers to take on more leadership responsibilities.

The previous three components probably aren’t that surprising. What you might never consider is engaging copy. Why should a job description sound engaging? Your copy is what shows off your church’s personality. Think of it like a book. If it’s bland and boring, you don’t read to the end. If it’s engaging, you absorb every word and want more.

Don’t Create An Impossible Position To Fill

Now, it’s time to actually start creating your perfect pastor job description. First, you need to establish what level of experience and education are necessary. For instance, a senior pastor should be more experienced than an associate pastor.

Just keep your expectations realistic. Go ahead and browse other church’s job descriptions for similar positions to get an idea of the common requirements. You want a description that doesn’t make it open to just anybody, but open to those most suitable for your church.

If you’re looking for the perfect pastor, remember that no one is perfect. In fact, My Pastor has a list of historic Biblical figures who churches might have discounted too quickly.

Establish Your Church’s Needs

What does your church actually need? Do you need a youth pastor who knows how to get teens off their phones? What about a senior pastor who knows how to inspire more people to volunteer?

Explain your church’s goals and why you’re looking for a specific type of pastor. This also helps explain the type of personality your ideal pastor should have.

Don’t be afraid to mention things like growing your church, improving member attendance, reaching a wider audience (such as online) or boosting online tithing.

This is also a good place to add soft skills. Talk about things like being a storyteller or having a welcoming personality.

Lay Out Responsibilities Clearly

This is an area of your pastor job description that you have to be extra careful with. You don’t want to create a description that’s 10 pages long.

The idea is to create a description that lists the most important and regular responsibilities. You might have a bullet list of 10-15 responsibilities at most along with a set amount of time you expect each to take every week and/or month. This shows candidates what to expect and which areas are most important to your church.

You might want to consider making a longer list and adding it to your website for pastors to learn even more about the position before applying.

Explain Your Church

Now, it’s time to talk about your church. You’ve explained what you’re looking for and why, but what do candidates know about your church? Why should they minister to your community?

Talk about things, such as:

  • Church goals
  • Number of members/attendance
  • Online reach
  • Ministry programs
  • Volunteer programs
  • Issues close to your church community’s hearts
  • Type of atmosphere (solemn, exciting, etc.)
Every Good Job Descriptiong Needs Clear Goals.

This is a chance to get potential pastors excited about being a part of your staff. Make them almost see themselves talking to members, overseeing projects and ministering to the community.

Pitch The Idea Of Teamwork

You don’t want candidates to feel overwhelmed from the moment they see the responsibilities list. This is why it’s vital to talk about the importance of teamwork. Explain that your staff works as a team to uplift and support each other.

Also, talk about how active your volunteers are and how they can help. If you outsource tasks, mention this as a way to ensure that you don’t want any of your staff feeling overwhelmed or too stressed to effectively do their jobs. Most importantly, you want them to enjoy what they do.

Offer Up Benefits

Everyone wants to know the benefits of the job, such as compensation. As stated earlier, give a base salary and if you’re open to negotiations, say so.

This is also the place to talk about other benefits, such as vacation time, sick leave, healthcare, retirement plans and more. You could even list that the position comes with a team of volunteers to help handle the workload.

Let Your Personality Show Through

Remember the importance of engaging copy? Throughout your job description, let your church’s personality shine. If you have a light-hearted church family that has a fun sense of humor, sprinkle some humor in the description.

If you’re much more serious, let that show through too. Give your candidates an idea of the type of atmosphere they’d be a part of. After all, you want a pastor with the same type of personality to best fit with your church.

You might want to link to your social media accounts and/or website to further showcase your personality.

Add Extra Details On Your Website

As you might have noticed, it’s easy to create a novella out of the perfect pastor job description. If you’re posting to job boards, there’s probably a limit on how long the description can be.

Create shorter, yet no less engaging, descriptions for job boards, but link back to a longer description on your church’s website. Not only does this grab a candidate’s attention, but they won’t have to try looking up your church on their own.

Have a dedicated page just for the description along with a comment or messaging section to answer questions before candidates apply. Also, update the page and your description regularly if your needs change.

Learn By Example

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to check out other pastor job descriptions. Check out other church websites and job boards. Unseminary has a list of great job descriptions for different church roles. Remember, don’t copy them, but use them to guide you on creating the best possible description for your church.

If your church is new, you might want to consult other area churches to get an idea of how to attract pastors in your area. It’s always best to learn from others versus trying to reinvent the wheel.

Ready to start creating your perfect pastor job description? Make sure you have a church website ready to help candidates learn more about your church.

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