The new year is just around the corner and it might be time for a new job or a first job in church communication. We’re launching a series focused on that journey—landing a job. We’ll talk about the process of finding work in a church, what to expect, how to prepare for an interview and more. We’ll start today with a first job experience.
My first job in church communication was like a second education. My transition from full-time work in the corporate world to being hired as a communications assistant at my church was pretty typical, I guess. It was a growing church in the Midwest with more than 3,000 attending each weekend. I had been going to the church for about a year, had done some graphic design work as a volunteer and when the position opened up I felt a certain nudge to apply.
One month later, I was hired. I had a new 32-hour-a-week job with no benefits and a much smaller salary than I was used to.
But for the first time in my life I was working for more than just a paycheck.
Overall, my four years on staff at this church were great. I was challenged and encouraged, and learned more than I ever did working in a corporate cubicle. I learned two major things in this job, and only wish I had learned them sooner:
1. Things Change Often & Move Quickly
I don’t like to use the word “things” and be so generic, but the change I experienced could not be confined to one category or area of the church. In four years, my role went from part time to full time, and from no responsibility to acting as the communications director. There were staff changes, office changes, service time changes, ministry changes, pastor changes and building changes. Almost as soon as I got used to doing something, it would be time for it to change. Most of the time, thankfully, the changes were positive and were the result of being a growing church.
In my days in the corporate world, it often took weeks for a project to go through its approval process. Rarely would anyone stay late to finish up work, since it could always wait for the next day. But things moved at lightning speed in church. It was common for someone to think up a new initiative in the morning, have a creative meeting before lunch, hash out some concepts mid-afternoon, and have a finished design and promotion plan by that evening. Tired yet?
I was totally unprepared for this during my first few months on staff. Every time there was a change or a last-minute project, I saw it as the exception and treated it that way. Rather than seeing what I could contribute, I often fought against it. That rarely resulted in success. And ruffled a few feathers along way.
2. Leadership is Part of the Job
Whether or not your title reflects it, leadership comes with the territory. Even in my role as part-time communications assistant I was viewed as a leader in the church, simply because I worked for the church. This was a shock to me: I was a relatively new Christian when I was hired. Spiritual leadership was not something I felt ready for. Pray in front of the entire staff during our weekly meeting? What did I get myself into?
The spiritual leadership aspect of the job is essential, and it’s one of the main things that separates our work from work in the corporate world. We are called to support and defend the church, pray for our staff and congregation, and live our lives differently than the rest of the world. Although it’s not always on our job description. It seems obvious to me now, but I honestly didn’t think much about it as a new believer, eager to begin serving the church in my new role.
Grace & Growth
I made a ton of mistakes not knowing these things on day one. But thankfully the church is a place that understands grace, and allowed me time to learn from those who are much wiser. And even now, the pace of work in a large church still drives me crazy, but it continually challenges me and pushes my skills to a better place. And for that reason I wouldn’t change anything about it.
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