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Religion 101: How can I find a job in the church?


This book may help you explore a calling to ordained ministry.

Whether you are currently unemployed or just looking for a new job for a new direction in life, take heed to whether God is calling you to serve the church. There are many was to serve the church in full-time ministry, and they are not all limited to being a pastor or an ordained clergy person.

Certainly the most familiar position of church service is the pastor or preacher. Most pastors are ordained elders, though some may be what the United Methodist Church calls "local pastors." Local pastors and elders have different education requirements, with the latter requiring a master of divinity degree. Elders, then, receive priority in appointments to congregations. Elders, and sometimes local pastors, may also serve in other local church positions or in ministries outside of the congregation. However, they typically must spend part of their career in a local church.

If God is calling you to serving as a pastor of a local church, begin by discussing this call with your current pastor. He or she will tell you about the next steps.

Lay persons and ordained deacons also serve the church in many ways. The most common positions in local congregations include Christian education, youth pastor, music director and administrative assistant. There are also positions in the Nashville Area with regional and denomination-wide agencies of the UMC. When including these agencies along with the dozens of United Methodist-related institutions of higher education in the United States and around the world, virtually any skill set could be used by the church.

Each congregation and agency may have its own standards for what they require. Talk to people who already serve the church in the area of your interest to find out more. You may find current openings listed at Also check out the Tennessee Conference job blog. Additional local UMC agencies with positions not in these lists are the General Board of Discipleship/Upper Room and the United Methodist Publishing House/Cokesbury. Visit their sites for more information.

However, never rely on the web to show you every position that someone might hire you for right now. Networking is always essential to finding your ideal job. Several congregations in the area provide career transition support that will give you other tips and tricks for finding how to live out your call. Be sure to check them out.

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  • Son of Zebedee 5 years ago

    According to the requisites needed to be an elder with the United Methodist Church JESUS AND THE ALL OF THE DISCIPLES WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN QUALIFIED TO SERVE IN THE METHODIST CHURCH. See your requirements down below. Agreed, an elder cannot be a novice as the Word says, God ordains/anoints people not men. Men make fences and fiefdoms, and then wonder why no one is beating the door down to get into church. Selah...
    "Local pastors and elders have different education requirements, with the latter requiring a master of divinity degree."