Recruiting the Best Seniors

Tips to churches on recruiting the best seniors.


Kadie's Dad said...

I didn't realize churches were holding jobs for sophomores, etc. how is this working practically? how are the churches staffing untill their new all-star arrives in 2-3 years?

Keith Drury said...

This is not usual--but for especially talented students... Growing churches can count on a growing staff so more positions appear every year... and of course they count on the usual turnover in staff... and I suppose they are only offering a promise--none actually give signed contracts so I suppose they still have an escape hatch open.

It is an interesting idea... raise then send off to training your own....

Pete Vecchi said...

The article was eye-opening. And in typical fashion for me, I saw something that was more-or-less a side comment that I am wondering about because I have no information on it: Why are you saying that there will be a lot fewer college students in the future? How near in the future do you see this happening?

Keith Drury said...

Simple demographics... we in the college business keep our eye fixed on who is in the pipeline... for instance we know that high school freshman this year will be graduating in 2011... so if the number of high school freshman in the USA is collapsing this year we know that in three years there will simply be fewer seniors graduating. Which means that in 2015 there will be far fewer ministerial students graduating seeking jobs...

Of course more nurses and art students could become ministerial students... or the kids who never went to college might start attending..but, generally speaking, by 2012 all colleges will be smaller--or some will grow and other will close.

Michael R. Cline said...

Pretty soon we'll have to draw up rules like the NCAA.

(1) Verbal commitments are not binding if the head pastor leaves the designated church

(2) Gifts, money, perks etc. are not allowed in any circumstance to undergrad recruits for services rendered or commitments made.


(3) Text messaging from recruiting pastors to underclassmen not allowed.

Chap said...

Interesting timing for me? We are a growing church who subscribe to the reality that we have to be in the constant "recruiting" business.

We are currently looking for a youth pastor, but honestly all the avenues for these searches stink (youthspecialties.com etc... )Perhaps we've had bad luck or it's God's sovreign plan :), but it's been frustrating.

We've now started "head-hunting" churches where we hear good ministries are happening and trying to "discover" if God is leading them somewhere different. This usually is decided by a. size of church/staff b. location c. and salary package. I'm still uncomfortable with this process--but honestly we've grown tired of the coddled college grad as you've described--or the ex-teacher, surfer, etc... looking to find themselves/fulfillment in ministry.

Keith-- how do churches like ours go about finding "good college" grads-- especially if we aren't in a city with a Christian university?

The Royal Bookworm said...

I will be graduating this semester from ISU. No, I do not have a religious studies degree, nor do I intend to go into "the ministry". It's law school for me.

However, many of the things Dr. Drury said are nonetheless applicable to my own expectations. Well, I would probably pick a Diet A & W over a Diet Barque's ... and a Jones Soda trumps every other. But you get the point.

Of particular import are his last three points.

5. I would be perfectly happy being in a supporting role or working for a supporting organization, provided I knew that I was making a difference. And I don't particularly mind waiting to do so. My goals tend to be long-term and don't involve flashing lights (though it would be cool to be on the Supreme Court ... it is not a "goal" of mine, per se). Along these lines, I am currently applying to work with an organization that sends teachers to underprivileged schools - for the typical wages given to someone teaching to a low-budget underprivileged school. I believe I can make a difference, and that it is important. That's success.

3. Odd as it sounds, I believe Dr. Drury's third point follows from his fifth, except that I would have entitled it "They care as much about how they work as what they’ll do". I am an independently-minded person. But I find that in whatever I do, I am part by a group (of at least two or three) that works towards some goal - or even just socializes - together. This sounds odd coming from a "loner" such as myself, but can be explained by a similar point - when I see a problem, I want to fix it. Or at least help fix it. And if you offer more of a community approach, that quickly becomes more possible - my personal illustration here is that I joined a student group on campus and noticed in passing a problem with its constitution. Before the group adjourned, I was chairman of the newly created committee to overhaul the constitution - and this only my first meeting as a member of the group. No-one was assigned "fix the Constitution" duty, and this allowed whoever was interested and able (me and my committee members) to get together and do it.

4. It is inconceivable to me that someone could not not seek continual personal development. After all, didn't our parents tell us to never stop learning? And don't we see illustrations of this all throughout Scripture? Even my professors (granted, usually new-ish professors) occasionally comment on how a student has helped them see an issue in a new light. And, personally, I'd like to go to a seminary or Bible college after law school - not to become a pastor, but to give me new insights into Scripture and into the law. The day I stop learning and growing is the day I die.

Granted, I'm not going into the ministry - and I don't yet have a clue what the world after law school will be like. What I wrote above could just be a pipe dream. Be they are nonetheless part of my expectations. More accurately, they are basic to me and I assumed they were self-evident to others.

Anonymous said...

keith, i'd need you to define the term "best." the students you describe in the first part of your post sound unusually spoiled and immature. this concerns me, particularly in light of their calling to be ministers.

the students you describe in the second half of your post seem more mature, looking for the intangibles of ministry happyness rather than a fat paycheck and a high-profile job.

the problem, of course, is that the students you describe are one in the same...

unfortunately, spiritual giftings reveal one's ministry rather than maturity. fruit, on the other hand, reveals one's maturity, and perhaps even has a more beneficial hand in long-term ministry effectiveness than gifting.

the "best" you describe may in fact be substantially gifted, but if there is not greater maturity in them which can help overcome some of the issues you mentioned in your post, then i daresay we don't want them anyway. let them work at starbucks long enough for true humility to be formed, so that once (if ever) they work in a church setting, they'll be working for more appropriate reasons than some of those described.

(and of course, i write all this drivel assuming your post is not driven by actual students, but rather by a simple desire to encourage churches to begin the exploration and hiring process much sooner, thus helping iwu get students placed more quickly - and by so doing bringing enviable recognition to iwu's ministry department over the other wesleyan universities of our denomination)

Anonymous said...

To Chap: Instead of looking for candidates on what sounded like a dating site for churches to meet pastors, why not use the denominational funnel to find quality candidates?

Alot of employment opportunities my father (credentialed with the wesl.church) has heard about or follows up on comes from denominational newsletters or the employment listings on the websites.

Keith Drury said...

MIKE... good cautions on promises...

CHAP... yep headhunting is increasing... I don't feel real great about this either

BOOKWORM... A wonderful example of this generational shift...it is not just ministerial graduates..it is virtually ALL graduates.

THREEXSYROUT... Yes, by "best graduates" I mean those with the best "gifts and graces" of ministry... they are sometimes also the "best" students but not always. And I note that many are late bloomers.

The coming years in higher education are going to be interesting... it will be like pastoring a church in a town where the population shrinks 10 in five years..it is still possible to grow in such a town, but it is harder.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Drury, a question has surfaced in a conversation between myself and my father this evening;

I was telling him that as far as I have researched schools and had gotten a general feel for them over a period of time, ministry departments it has appeared to me do very little in the area of incentives, advertisement, or deep, deep, training.

If there are any incentives or sources of encouragement, they are usually reserved for the denominational kids. My father has credentials with the Wesleyan church..He formerly had credentials with the Missionary church..he's currently pastoring at a non-denominational church and I'm attending a United Brethren college, so where does that leave me?

Am I the only one who has noticed that certain departments of Christian colleges generally get more attention like the Business and Medical schools while to find the Ministerial departments you have to 'wade into the coat closet and push away all the suits'?

In regards to point #4, he told me that he has always desired for denominational pastors to be apart of the process in the lives of students who are getting an education for the ministry..as a part of belonging to a denomination, the pastors would devote certain amounts of time to leading mentoring classes like Developing Missions Ministries within the Church to mentor and grow the up and coming generation to grow a better batch so to speak. There are oodles and oodles of qualified and overly qualified pastors who would do wonderfully at this, especially in the 'Michindoh' area.

Lastly, thinking back to the part where I mentioned incentives, it has been discouraging to me when I think about getting support from folks in my call to ministry. Right now God has blessed us with a generous church, but I do not know the level of support I will eventually get when the time comes. I do not belong to a denomination, and the general impression I get when I tell people I am called into ministry, or hear about folks going to school to be trained for the ministry is 'That's nice.' There isn't much rejoicing, emotional support, spiritual guidance, or financial help.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Keith Drury said...

Yep, you are right... in getting jobs and giving cash to college ministerial students "denominations" do their work well... while even they are "self employed" when it comes to getting a job, denominational students do get a bunch more encouragement and attention on their way to graduating.

Dr. P. (JP) said...

Keith, Seniors are indeed in the driver's seat, and aren't as brash behind the wheel as our generation. Tim Sanders (of Yahoo fame) provides a wonderful summary here in his book, Love Is the Killer App. He notes the three intangibles that dominate the millennials' world, networking, knowlege and campassion (the latter relates directly to your point three). And knowledge and networking, unlike in our generation, are stereotypically for their own gain, but for that of the group. Also, it would be curious to survey seniors about their choice of professors (if they're electives, or various sections of the same requirement). I imagine you'd find some of the same similarities in their class choices as with job selection. Jerry Pattengale

Chap said...

He notes the three intangibles that dominate the millennials' world, networking, knowlege and campassion (the latter relates directly to your point three).

This is true until they actually grow up (ie get married and have kids). It's amazing how much more meaningful salary and benefits become.

I also disagree with the millenials as a generation having the market cornered on networking, knowledge and compassion--this has been true of every generation.