Finding Work as an Ex-Pastor

resigning as pastorSo you want to resign from the professional paid pastorate so you can be a better pastor? There is only problem.

How are you going to get paid?

The simple answer is that you are going to have to find another job. I know, I know. I told you that by resigning from pastoral ministry, you would not have to leave pastoral ministry. That’s true.

But the reality is that you still need to get income, and so you need to find a job. And if you find a job, and still want to be a pastor as well, then you are going to have radially redefine “pastoral ministry.” But this is a good thing when you do. We’ll look at all of this tomorrow.

First, let’s focus on finding a job.

The trouble is that with millions of people out of work right now, it is extremely difficult to find work. If you are interested in resigning from the pastorate, I strongly suggest you move in that direction. Don’t just quit without having a job lined up.

I know, some people want to just “step out on faith” and quit their job, trusting God to provide, but I believe this is more foolish than faithful. But you make your own decisions.

jobs pastors can do

If you are having trouble finding full-time work, you might be able to work something out with your church board where you work less at the church, and find part-time work in the community. This has the added benefit of giving you some on-the-job training for a future career. If the board backs you in this decision, they should gladly provide you some time away from the church to prepare resumes, apply for jobs, go to interviews, or even attend schooling to get some education you will be better prepared for a “second career.”

Furthermore, if you get a job, but the pay is not comparable to what you were getting in the church, the church should consider supplementing your income while you gain more experience and knowledge and works your way up to a higher salary. This process may take a few years, but the end result is worth the liberty and freedom that both the church and the pastor experience as a result.

It will be Difficult

One of the difficulties we pastors have in finding a job outside the church is that all of our education and experience is frequently only with church. While many of us have lots of education and experience, but only the areas of Bible and Theology. There are not many businesses that are looking to hire someone with knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, and difficult-to-read theological terms.

However, if presented properly, many pastors have knowledge and skills which many businesses are looking for: management and interpersonal skills being foremost among them. Also, one of the keys to running any business is communication, and most pastors excel in communication skills.

However, there still may be trouble at finding a job, even in a good economy. When I left ministry, I applied for over 100 jobs, and got only two interviews. At one point, a Human Resource Manager was kind enough to tell me that they saw my education and experience as a sign that I was overqualified for some of the jobs I was applying for, and so they thought that I would be leaving soon after I was hired.

I did end up eventually landing a job, and interestingly enough, I left after about six months. But the reason was because my body couldn’t handle it. I was working 80 hours per week, lost a lot of weight, and had two surgeries from injuries at work.

I eventually found the job I am in now, and I’ve been here for three years.

Jobs Pastors Can Do

There are a variety of jobs that a pastor could do in the community.

Jobs pastors can do

Some pastors find that they excel in sales positions, customer service, and office management, while others do well in technical writing, editing, or teaching. Some pastors enter the financial industry, becoming bankers, brokers, accountants, or financial consultants. Lots of pastors become counselors  at a high school or college, or even as a family and marriage counselor. For some reason, most of the pastors I know personally who have left the pastorate became salesman, selling cars, houses, insurance, clothing, home businesses, and timeshares. (What does it mean when pastors make good salesmen?) One area to seriously consider, and which will still use your pastoral experience and seminary education, is in becoming a prison, hospital, or military chaplain.

Quite likely, if a pastor explains to his church what he is trying to do, someone in the church knows of a job opening for which he is qualified. If not, then at least they might know something about resume preparation, or know someone in the Human Resources department at their workplace which can help the pastor market himself to local companies.

Are you aware of any resources, books, or websites which specifically help pastors find work? If so, please mention them in the comments below.

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