When a Book Is an Ambulance

The updates, the emails, the posts—it all ends tonight.

After one month and half a dozen email updates, my Kickstarter campaign for Don’t Just Send a Resume ends tonight at 11 pm EST. Thank you to everyone who helped and prayed for the project. It was a huge success.

If you’d like to still help, go for it. Every extra $15 raised will help me get the book to a job-placement coordinator at new seminary.

As a final email, I thought you might enjoy reading the current preface to the book to see how I believe it will prevent pastors from floundering.

Thank you,

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“Preface” to Don’t Just Send a Resume

It took me five years to earn my seminary degree. It was exhausting. It cost thousands of dollars and took thousands of hours to learn what I needed to learn so I could help lead a local church. Eventually that training was complete, and it was time for my classmates and me to look for jobs.

This didn’t go well for many of us. In fact, some students—men I respected and thought would make great pastors—struggled to find the right church, or any church at all.

In a word, they floundered.

Why? Because they didn’t know how to find a job. They didn’t know what they were doing. I suspect there are valid reasons why this was the case.

First, they forgot—or they never learned—that the business world is different from the vocational ministry world. These differences startled me when I began interviewing for pastoral jobs. For example, during the interview process with one church, the pastors visited my home for a meal. They met my entire family, and even saw my laundry room as I gave them a tour of our house. Trust me, this never happened during my former career as a mechanical engineer.

Second, pastors struggle to connect with the right local church because many seminaries don’t have margin to teach students how to transition from the classroom. For every book a professor includes, there are ten others he or she wanted to add but couldn’t.

If you’re a seminary student about to graduate, it’s no guarantee you’ll have a pastoral job in a few months. You know the feeling—and it’s terrifying. In his book to help pastors during transitions, author John Cionca writes, “Occasionally, I meet seminarians who view a Master of Divinity degree as a union card. They figure that someone owes them a church upon graduation” (Cionca, Before You Move, 35). I’m not sure I’d go this far, but I understand the sentiment. All that effort, time, and money—in addition to a sense of calling that’s been confirmed by others—creates certain expectations, or at least certain hopes.

So, when the end of the tunnel starts to look more hopeless than hopeful, disillusionment and panic ensue. It’s overwhelming to think about all the steps involved in finding the right job, especially if you’ve never done it before. Where do I start? Who do I talk to? What do I send them? It’s no less terrifying when you’re currently in a church but considering a new role. How do I know my family and I will fit at the new church? How do I tell people I’m leaving?

For all those questions, we pastors need solid coaching. We need processes that are theologically informed and practically oriented. We need anecdotes from real hiring processes, and we need strategies for every step of the way.

This is what Don’t Just Send a Resume is about. Consider for a moment an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). An EMT, though trained, needs an ambulance to get him to the accident. He’s been trained to help those who hurt, but he needs a ride to be able to do so. If he can’t get to the accident, he can’t help. In the same way, I’m not interested in pastors earning a lot of money or finding the flashiest job. I simply want to get those who are trained to help—pastors—on the path to those churches who need their help.

This whole project started with two e-mails. Joel, a friend from seminary, emailed me to ask for advice about what a pastor should do to find a job in a church. That was two and a half years ago. Joel was about to transition from one church to another, and he was looking for help. I sent him an e-mail with ten suggestions. Who sends a ten-point e-mail? I guess I do! Anyway, Joel actually appreciated my advice, as well as the subsequent coaching I gave him. After that, my e-mail response to Joel grew into a series of blog posts. Then came eighteen months of research with my nose in books on the topic, both church-specific and business books alike. Then came over fifty interviews with pastors of all different ages and roles and denominations who’d recently made a pastoral transition. And finally, then came this book—or, rather, this ambulance.

Let’s go for a ride.


* Photo by Zhen Hu on Unsplash