i've been realizing lately, that i've been able to put more of a finger on the specific challenge(s) i've faced in the church. being that i'm jobless at the moment, i've been poking around at job advertisements and descriptions. and i've noticed something: it seems that most church jobs are not about ministry anymore - they are about management. go to Youth Specialties and check out some of the infinite job postings there, and i think you'll see what i mean.
i'm a bit confounded as to how this has come to be. i have a passion for ministry with young people. but nearly all the positions i find are management positions, not ministry positions. "Responsibilities include contact work, infrastructure building, event planning, communication, teaching, volunteer development, staff coordination, mission opportunities & long-range planning." some of these job descriptions are ENDless in their lists of tasks to do and to manage. it DRAINS me just to read them! in california, i felt trapped in a management job that i hadn't realize i signed up for. 90% of what i did on a weekly basis, i felt could be done by just about anyone. i didn't have significant time to concentrate on the important things - the MINISTRY aspects of working at a church.
now, for me, this is a bit unnerving. why? because i don't have, nor do i want to have traditional management skills. so when i see a large percentage of churches looking for people to take jobs that are largely management rather than ministry positions, you can imagine the depressing grip i feel in my chest. because i have a PASSION for MINISTRY, not for management. i want to be a MINISTER, not a MANAGER. management is about tasks and programs. ministry is about people and discipleship.
on the positive side, i have found that this trend of ministry-to-management is not the case everywhere. here's a pastor who is thinking about what it means to BE church as opposed to DOing church. i found a church in birmingham a couple months ago who was looking for someone to come on staff and be in ministry with them, and headup spiritual formation with young people. things like these are refreshing and encouraging to me. a lot of people are thinking and talking about this ministry/management dialectic. but it certainly makes it difficult for me to look for jobs in ministry, when most of them are disguised as management positions.
being in youth ministry circles, there are so many resources and conferences to keep us thinking about things like this. it's really amazing. i was just in princeton this past week for their bi-annual youth ministry forums, and got to hear some great, wise people speak about ministry. since there's little opportunity out there, i'm thinking about starting an annual national conference for senior and associate pastors to get them thinking more about this kind of stuff. anybody with me?