Yesterday I talked about answering some essential questions before starting your job search. You’ve got to decide those things before you start sending your resume out to every church looking to hire someone. Trust me, as you’re being interviewed, you’re going to sound a lot more attractive as a candidate as you clearly describe who you are and what God’s called you to be. There’s something powerful in that. Some of the more successful interviews I’ve been in where where I described God’s call on my life, the plan he has for me and how I could apply it in this particular church. Pastors love a candidate with a specific plan.

So, what are you options. Maybe you know who you want to be, but you don’t have any real experience. You’re pretty sure that the kind of church you want to serve at isn’t going to be interested in your vision alone, they’re going to want to see some experience on that resume. The other option is that you have loads of experience, but it’s in a totally different kind of church than the kind you have experience in. I’ve met people who have been on staff in pretty conservative churches and they want to make a change to a very contemporary church, but the contemporary churches aren’t willing to take the risk. This is a problem, but it’s not an impossible problem to get around. You need some good experience in the type of church you want to end up in. Here are two options to consider.

Church plants

There are so many churches getting started it’s not even funny. In addition, a lot of these church plants are unique and most church planters I’ve talked to understand the importance of a strong children’s ministry and are looking for someone with great vision for Children’s Ministry. It’s a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor. You can build something from the bottom up. Children’s Ministry in a church plant is hard, but it’s great experience as you get to lead at so many different levels and as the church grows, you get to overcome the challenges of leading a growing ministry.

Do your research. Many church plants are connected to organizations that fund our help them. See if there are plants in your area or if there is one somewhere you’d be excited to relocate for. Take your time to get to know the pastor and his vision for the church. Be sure he’s someone you can love doing ministry with because you’re going to be working very closely with him. One of the downsides is that many church plants can’t afford to pay a Chidlren’s Pastor and if they can, it isn’t much. This may just require some bi-vocational ministry time. It’s not ideal or convenient, but it may be what it takes to get the experience you need. Consider it your education.

Volunteer at an existing church

When I say volunteer at an existing church, I’m not talking about getting on their volunteer rotation of serving every other week. I’m talking about scheduling a meeting with their Children’s Pastor and telling him or her your plans of a ministry career. Tell him or her that you want to learn everything there is about Chidlren’s Ministry and tell them that you want to be his or her “star” volunteer. You’ll be willing to do anything and everything to learn everything you can. Again, this is one of those times you’ll need to be bi-vocational, but the stuff you’ll learn is insurmountable. I honestly wish I had done this at some point. I had to learn a lot of things the hard way because I did ministry alone.

You may find a church around you that is knocking it out of the park. That might be your option. If you’re really serious about learning from the best, consider relocating to work with the best. I can think of 4-5 churches that I’d do this with. Again, it does mean sacrifice, but it’s a little sacrifice in the context of a life-long career in ministry.