HELP WANTED, but Experience Required

I received the following e-mail recently, and it’s a question and request I get often. I wanted to post my answer to her here so that it might encourage others as well. As I know her struggle is not an uncommon one.

Karl, I need your help. I want to be in paid ministry and I have been volunteering and the church I am working with says “we can’t believe you don’t have a job yet…you are perfect for this.” I am frustrated because ministering to kids and helping them discover the wonderful truths of the Bible is my passion. “Here I am! Send me!”

If I get back responses from my resume, I hear mostly that I don’t have enough experience. I do have quite a bit of volunteer experience and did my internship with a children’s minister, but the necessity for me to have a full time job now to support my daughter and I makes it difficult for me to put in another 20 hours a week at a church volunteering as a CM. So how do I both support my family AND get more experience?

I am seeing walls up everywhere I turn and am curious if you could punch a few holes through for me.

I hear you and I feel your frustration. How are you supposed to get experience, if no one will give you the opportunity to GET experience by taking a chance with you? It’s the age-old challenge – people want someone with experience, but how do you get experience if no one will hire you?

There is no easy answer, but part of the answer is to trust God and, listen to Him, and keep at it. Look for a church that isn’t as picky. Churches that can be picky usually DO need someone with experience as the job is larger and therefore harder. Smaller ministries that aren’t as picky, often are easier and better places to learn anyway. It may be that you’ll need to do something else while volunteering for a while to gain some experience, or work part time at a church that has less requirements while working part time somewhere else. I know that’s tough, but it is a start.

In the end, take it to God, and be willing to follow the leads and opportunities He opens up for you. They may not be what you want early on, but if you are faithful, available and teachable – in time, they will lead you to what you desire. You know Prov. 3:5-6 and Proverbs 16:9 and Psalm 37:4 – now is the time to lean on those and LIVE those, and watch what God does.

I know those words are easier said than lived, but I’m one who has lived them. I’ve had the children’s pastor job at the big church with the big budget and tons of resources and volunteers but it wasn’t until after I was willing to work in the inner city with nothing, where if I wanted something, it came out of my own pocket – and in a youth center next to a bar cleaning up all the broken beer bottles before the kids got there and doing it without thinking ‘I’m better than this’, or my talents aren’t being used to their full potential. I was just being content where God had me, and God honored that by in time opening up doors to larger spheres of influence and opportunity. I fully realize that some never leave those small unknown places of ministry – and their reward may be greater because of it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is – I’m not the one who can punch some holes through for you – God is, He has all the connections you need. And I hope you will let me know the end of the story someday when you are in the ministry of your dreams, because I believe you will be someday!

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