Why Bible College?: Job Perspectives–A Service Guide to the Market for Christian Employment
Opening Remarks: Are There Jobs Out There? (For job referral sites. Web Sites for Christian Job Search)
The answer to the question above is a resounding “YES”! You might ask, “Why are there jobs in the Christian market even when the secular market is flat?” The answer is simple: as times become more and more trying people in the Christian world and the secular world need more ministers of hope and reconciliation. There are more and more positions opening up in Christian related industries such as businesses and corporations owned or operated by Christians, bookstores, hospitals, home school associations, armed forces, music distributors, physical fitness centers, counseling offices, Christian legal offices and much more. The private sector and the pastorate are looking for people with degrees in theology because they know that they will be able to help in crisis and times of need as well as reduce daily problems and stress. Our ministers are in the marketplace and are called on as crew leaders, directors, advisors, chaplains, counselors, pastors, teachers, and helpers. So, are there jobs out there? YES!
Christian Job Hunting
So far, we have had great success with graduates finding jobs in both the secular and the Christian market. For example, one of our students, a Master in Theology, used his degree from Summit at the college he was teaching at, and one of our recent graduates received a doctorate in theology from Summit and now teaches at the University of Phoenix earning $130 an hour. Another student is a professor for Fresno-Pacific. Other graduates have had their degree help them to attain jobs in several secular areas including state positions, one that earned a position at a Federal Penitentiary. But of course, if positions required state accreditation, or special schooling, you may need to go to a college that offers, secular degrees. However, positions in ministry open up wide; many are full time, paid positions (see examples below).
Although every student needs to realize that there is no guarantee that you will find a job after graduation, it is always valuable to have the knowledge, degrees and licensing! The following are some resources that may help in your search. There are over 1,200 new Pastoral positions open each year due to attrition, career change, or new congregations. Counseling positions are more and more prevalent due to the escalation of personal and social problems. Also, large churches, as well as private Christian counseling services, are on a steady incline in demanding Christian counselors. Statistics indicate that the preferred counselors, by far, are now “Christian counselors.”
In the more diverse section of ministry, institutions such as “Focus on the Family” are growing to become huge corporate enterprises that have political and social benefits. Focus on the Family highly recommends that their new ‘hires’ have a degree in Theology or Ministry. They have positions in curriculum, research, layouts, administration, and much more. Their ability to employ people in all fields of ministry in practical application services continues to grow geometrically, like most medium to large ministries and churches. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, where “Focus” is located, there are over 250 major Christian ministries alone, not including churches. The number of missionary job openings grows each year because of the mission field expansion and the high turnover due to the nature of the commitment which can include persecution, or even death, on the mission field. So, of all the career areas, ministry work has a lot of openings for the right person, and it is growing, yearly.
The question often comes up, “What good is a degree in Theology?” The answer is that there are many opportunities, both paid, and volunteer. Volunteer positions can lead to a paid position once you prove your worth, and a Theology degree is the best degree if you are called to work for the Lord. Your degree can have special emphasis in a particular area that will prepare you for specific positions. Our five major areas of concentration are: Leadership and Pastoral Studies, Counseling, Worship and Prayer, Missions and Evangelism, and Christian Studies. We also have degrees in Chaplaincy, Christian Coaching, and Creative Arts.
Leadership qualifies you for many positions of responsibility in Christian organizations and the secular world. For example, if your degree is in Leadership it could equip you and empower you to work for a corporation, if you have knowledge of the business of your interest. It could enable you to take on areas that you are gifted in such as human relations, administration, planning, or development. In Christian fields a Leadership degree would prepare you for Church Planting, Pastoral or other leadership positions or for a ministry that you would direct. The key is that your gifts and callings will make a way for you in the secular or the Christian world, and God will lead as you put Him and His Word first.
Counseling is another highly desired degree at Summit. An emphasis in Counseling could be for work done at a Church, a Rehabilitation center, a 501 c 3 organization, or a Private Christian Counseling practice. All private Christian Counselors can be licensed by Summit Bible College as “ministers” and the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors – also see the SBC sheet on licensing for Counselors).
Worship could be used for a Worship leadership position at a church, music ministry, or for the promotion of youth bands and rallies such as “Jesus Shack” (www.jesusshack.com) here in Bakersfield.
Missions and Evangelism could be used for work in the mission field, which could be at home here in the U.S. or abroad. International Christian Ministries, a missions group based here in Bakersfield, allows you to minister to Pastors in Africa, as well as perform administrative work here in the U.S. as you develop a sponsorship base of support. Evangelism could be used for a position of an Evangelist, or one who speaks encouragement into others at various Christian functions or services.
Christian Creative Arts could prepare you for theater or entertainment, or a ministry such as Summit student Brian Sylvia’s “inCharacter” at (www.getincharacter.org ).
Chaplains are licensed to work in several venues, including disaster relief, prisons, rehabilitation homes, police, emergency and fire agencies, race tracks and sports, and many areas of society. SBC does not qualify for military chaplaincy at this time but one of our graduates, Dr. Marc Unger, is a full military chaplain. The army accepted our degree by special permission.
Bottom line, there are literally thousands of positions in Christian and non-Christian organizations that you could find work with a Summit degree.
While Christian work is often low paying compared to worldly work, it is high in intrinsic value. However, a fair wage is available for effective ministers. IRS guidelines are that you have a commensurate income with other organizations that are of like size. A church with 200-300 members could be paying as much as $40,000 per year for a minister, and a church with a congregation of 5,000 could pay several ministers from $25,000 to $100,000 per year or more, with benefits. It is possible for a minister to begin a church, 501 c 3 organization or a private counseling service that is independent and capable of supplying an income to the minister. The IRS allows the minister to draw an income that is reasonably in balance with the total income received by the organization, and an income that is acceptable in comparison with other such organizations of like size.
Some Helpful Hints!
There are major areas in Christian services that you should first recognize, and then decide where you fit in. The ones that traditionally have a paying position are:
Leadership Positions – Leadership positions are not just Pastoral jobs that require someone to lead a church. They can be administrative in any Christian enterprise such as a church, business, non-profit organization or Christian Elementary, High School or College. They could include work as an administrator starting a church or non-profit Faith Based organization (an Apostolic calling), or a leader of a Christian business that provides a service or product that directly or indirectly helps the Church. A leader of a Faith Based organization could be doing any number of services from providing food and shelter, to running a ministry for orphans. If you are a leader of a 501 c 3 organization, you are allowed to collect a reasonable salary. You could also be an administrator for a church denomination or a Christian organization such as “Focus on the Family.” Leadership positions could also be positions such as Coaches for athletic teams, leaders in large churches for extensive programs such as Missions, Care for the Elderly, or Supervisor of educational activities.
Applicant Requirement: Someone able to lead or serve as a support person to a Christian organization’s leader, such as a CEO or senior pastor • The desire to work with, and minister to, people • Good organizational and planning skills • Good communicator • Dependable • Discreet
Pastoral – The senior pastor shall serve as the chief shepherd and overseer of their local church, feeding, leading and nurturing the sheep. This person’s main responsibilities will be to communicate God’s Word, minister to spiritual needs and provide biblical leadership for the church.
Applicant Requirement: Experience in teaching and/or preaching • Leadership ability • Some training or experience in counseling • Experience in leading others to Christ • Good organizational and planning skills • The desire to work with, and minister to, people • Good communicator • Dependable • Discreet
Counseling – Counseling positions could include work at a Church, a Rehabilitation center, a 501 c 3 organization, or a Private Christian Counseling practice. Students desiring work in this field should be prepared for all areas of counseling. The rate of turnover for counselors is high and the person desiring to work in this field should be stable in the Lord, and able to minister in the midst of a lot of problems that will be brought to them. Although many see it as a glamorous position, it is one that can have a lot of stress, little results and enduring issues. If a person is good at business skills they can build their own private practice and charge a fee for their services. If the counselor has a private practice, they should also have a bond for malpractice insurance, and be registered with the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) or a like institution. They should be licensed as a minister (SBC provides licensing to qualified applicants). If the counselor is working under a church, they should know that unless it is a large church they probably will not garner much in wages. If you have a degree in Christian Counseling from Summit Bible College it is recognized by the State of California as a Degree in Theology and you will need to be licensed as a minister to open up a private practice as a “Christian Counselor.” Jobs at state institutions, such as a state owned hospital, rehab center or state school, may require special state licensing in counseling. Private enterprises may hire you, and pay you for your services.
If you operate a Christian counseling service, you must make your counselees aware that you are operating as a licensed minister counseling out of the Bible as your main source and not as a state approved counselor or psychologist. You cards, name plates and your introduction should say “Minister and Christian Counselor” at all times.
Requirements: Dependable • Expresser-analyst • Cooperative • Insightful
Chaplains can be paid or unpaid. Sometimes it depends upon your qualifications and the requirements of the sponsoring agents. Military chaplains must be approved by the U.S. government and usually require an education from a fully approved and accredited college. Summit does not qualify for that at this time. There are other Chaplain positions for hospitals and prisons that are not so selective in requirements. The individual seeking such employment should check with the agencies that are of interest to them.
Other Leadership Positions that are Paid
(Amount of compensation varies on the size of the church or organization &whether the position is full or part time)
Buildings and Grounds Administrator
Christian School Principle
Christian Education Director
Drama Team Coordinator
Family Life Pastor
Missionary or Evangelist*
* Usually, Missionaries or Evangelists raise their own funds from sponsoring churches that they visit in the U.S. during the year, or ones that are considered their “home church.”
Private support Businesses (Starting your own Christian business)
Specialized Skills for a Christian organization, such as:
Secretarial, Art skills, Computer Skills, etc.
Other Non-paying Positions are:
Prayer, Helps (volunteer positions). Interestingly enough, prayer should be your first consideration. If you do not know your calling, it is foolish to fit into something God does not intend you to do.
Positions You Qualify For
Associates in Biblical Studies – Assistant Pastor, worker help for organizations such as food banks, rehab centers, counseling clinics or churches
Bachelor of Theology with Emphasis in Pastoral Studies– All of the above and Pastor for a church, Assistant Pastor, Chaplain, Evangelist, Director of a help organization
Bachelor of Theology with Emphasis in Counseling – Counselor at a Private Clinic or Church Counselor
Master or Doctor of Theology, All of the above– Private Practice Christian Counselor and Professor at a Christian College
Job Hunting in Christian Organizations—Some Tips
• First look at your local Church
• Try your denomination if you have one
• Ask for referrals from Christian Workers or Pastors
• Volunteer at a local Church
• Conduct an online search at Christian job banks (listed below)
• Contact your employer for positions involving employee relations as in chaplaincy
• Contact other employers regarding positions that call on mediation, or advisorship
If you need a general starting place:
• Register with Summit Bible College as a minister in the minister’s fellowship
• Registration requires that you are a student at Summit Bible College
• It is an inexpensive, yet good way of recognizing your calling, with Summit as a support group
• Go to: https://www.summitbiblecollege.com
If you are a Chaplain:
• Register with a nationally recognized group
• Start your own prison ministry
• Your degree should have a balance of leadership, counseling and theology
• Work with a local prison or juvenile hall
• If you have not registered yet, here is a group: http://www.chaplain-ministries.com/
If you are a Counselor:
• Register with the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors) – it costs very little
• Make sure your degree has an emphasis in Christian Counseling (a Master’s Degree is preferred)
• Work with a local church or Christian Counseling agency as an apprentice (without pay if need be)
• If you have no host church, pay for the counselor insurance: www.aacc.net
• Start your own ‘private practice’ as a Biblical Counselor http://www.ehow.com/how_5675578_open-christian-counseling-center.html
If you are called as a Pastor or Evangelist
• Graciously tell your local Pastor of your calling, your intentions and ask for his assistance
• Volunteer your services in visitations, church-community relations or whatever you do best
• Try to become licensed through your local Church or with SBC
• Get licensed with a National Organization (this builds credibility, and remember, SBC can license you)
• Use search engines that promote Speaking engagements like: http://www.believersbay.com/
• Develop your own web site
If you are a Missionary:
• Tell your local Pastor of your calling and your intentions, and ask his assistance
• Become a member of a National Missionary group, or a local one, such as International Christian Ministries http://icmusa.org/index.php here in Bakersfield
Web Sites for Christian Job Search
Adventures in Missions http://www.adventures.org/?se=overture
Christian Career Center.com http://www.christiancareercenter.com/ (they offer a free jobs newsletter)
Christian Camp https://www.christianberets.org/