Who Wants To Be A Youth Minister?

So, you want to be a youth minister. But, you don’t know how to get past the endless postings on the Jobs Board or the local diocesan website. Allow me to give you some advice as you begin to navigate the waters of looking for a youth ministry job.

Create a Great Resume

Your resume is what will get you through the door, so make sure to highlight you and the experience you bring to the parish. It should not list just your ministry experience. Working at a coffee shop, a bank, a retail store, a corporate office, or doing an internship are all valid work experiences that a parish should know. Do your best to keep your resume to one page. This forces you to look at the position you are applying for and highlighting the skill sets you have when listing your job experience.

Each resume and cover letter you send out should be slightly different based on the job description. Your objective at the top of your resume should reflect the job you are attempting to obtain so adjust it as well for each parish.

Check out sample resumes online and have someone proofread your resume for spelling errors (big mistake that will put your resume in the trashcan), layout, and any suggestions for improvements.

Apply, Then Discern

I know I might get flack for this one, but when it comes to your first, or even second youth ministry job, apply, then discern! If you have already discerned that God is calling you to be a youth minister, the discernment process is half way complete. Do not limit yourself by being parish picky at the start. Once you have had an interview, you can discern if it is the right parish for you.

Phone, Skype, Panel, and Pastor Interviews

Start by introducing yourself, shaking hands if in person, and remembering people’s names. If someone doesn’t ask to start in prayer, make that suggestion and lead everyone is a simple prayer and Our Father. That prayer time will give you a second to breath and allow the Holy Spirit to guide the interview. Then, be prepared for a variety of interview styles, including:

  • Phone – First interviews will typically be short 10-15 minute phone interviews where the same questions will be asked of each applicant. You want to rise to the top of the list, so clear all distractions and noises and give your undivided attention to the person conducting the interview. Most interviewers are looking for answers they want to hear more than personality so be sure to focus on the questions and answer them clearly and in an organized and concise manner.
  • Skype/Google Hangout/Facetime – This is typically the second interview, especially if you are interviewing for an out of state position and the parish can’t fly in applicants. Dress to impress and make sure the room behind you is clean and uncluttered. Look into the camera, not at your image or their image on the screen. It will make a huge difference in how confident your come across. Think through your answer before you speak and talk clearly and slowly to make sure they understand you and can hear you well. Personality is a plus here, so be sure to appear alert and alive on screen.
  • Panel – This can be an intimidating interview with a variety of people of all ages. The most important thing to remember in a panel interview is to address and speak directly to the person who asks you a question, then to the entire group. Personality can come through in this interview best as it will be a great example of how you will minister in groups and with various audiences including parents, staff, teens, and leaders.
  • The Pastor or Parish Administrator – This will be the final interview or the one and only interview. Be prepared to answer a lot of the same questions you have previously, but also be prepared for some questions you have not heard yet. This interview is to determine if you are the one that they want, but don’t go into the interview feeling overconfident. Respect that the role is not yours until they offer it and give them the reverence that he or she deserves. Obedience is one thing a Pastor is seeking so be sure to answer and ask questions in this interview that pertain to the parish vision and how youth ministry can help fulfill that vision.

Each interview creates different challenges and requires specific focus. Practice interviewing with a friend or family member, be prepared and have great eye contact the entire time. Dress professionally and be early, not on time.

Ask Questions

The final question in 99.9% of the interviews you will have will be, “Do you have any questions for me (us)?” The answer is always YES! Not having questions can appear to the interviewer that you are not that interested in the position or the parish. If the following questions have not yet come up during your interview, ask:

  • I know that the parish mission statement is ___ (do your research and find this out if you can). How do you see youth ministry helping fulfill that parish mission?
  • What is the job description? Most of the time, this is outlined in the job posting, but if it is not clearly defined, make sure that it is at this point. Too many youth ministers accept positions without a clear job description, which only leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding after you are hired.
  • Ask the pastor or priests how much they will be involved in the ministry. You can ask it by first sharing how important the role of a priest is in future vocations and how priestly advocacy and witness is critical to a successful youth ministry program. Then ask the question of how they see themselves involved in the ministry.
  • Ask the pastor or pastoral administrator if they support you doing relational ministry during what many office staff would consider daytime working hours. It will provide you with an opportunity to share the importance of relational ministry and evangelization if you have yet been unable to bring it up.
  • Ask when they would want you to start. Many parishes want youth ministers to start immediately, which is fine if you need a job. But if you currently have a youth ministry position, you want to be able to give a solid two-week notice. Do not feel burdened to give more than two weeks. Empower the Core to take things on in the interim and trust that God is in control.
  • Do not ask about salary unless they bring it up with you. That is typically discussed once a position is formally offered, and you don’t want to come off wanting the job for financial reasons only. Make it more about the calling to do ministry rather than the salary.
  • Ask if you can close the interview with prayer. Make it a prayer of gratitude and discernment, and then close with a Glory Be.

More than anything, pray before every email you send with your resume attached, before every interview, and before you say yes to a position that God’s will be done. Trust that God will place you where He needs you and be patient. God will make His plan for you clear in time. Good luck! We are praying for you.

About the Author

Tricia Tembreull

Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a Texas-size heart for hospitality. She said yes over twenty years ago to God’s call to youth ministry and never could’ve imagined the adventures and people He had planned for her to encounter along the way. She serves as a Parish Coach for Life Teen and joyfully travels around the globe training, empowering, and praying with youth ministers. When not on a plane, you can find Tricia in a church, spending time with family and friends, in the kitchen cooking up something delightful, or on the beach for an evening walk.

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