13 Mistakes when Seeking a New Place of Ministry

Most of us change places of ministry during our career. I realize, of course, that making changes now during COVID may seem unwise, but below are 13 mistakes I’ve seen leaders make in this process of “courting” a new ministry.

  1. Seeking God only when looking for a new position. If you spend time with God only when you’re looking for a career answer, why would you assume you can suddenly know how to recognize God’s voice?
  2. Not involving others in the process. We need other trusted friends to help us think wisely. An objective friend who prays for us can be invaluable.
  3. Forgetting about your Internet posts.  If you put something dumb on the net at any point in your life, assume any potential employer will find it. Be smart today so you don’t have to explain something tomorrow.
  4. Limiting your search to a geographic area or a minimum church size. Perhaps you have legitimate reasons for either limitation, but it’s difficult to say, “Not mine, but your will be done” while listing such specifications.
  5. Not making a resume available. I understand those who say, “If God wants me to move, He can find me,” but that approach is sometimes so “fleece-oriented” it actually lacks faith. It’s not ungodly to make your resume available to see what God might be doing.
  6. Sending a resume that’s too long. Though others may differ, I encourage students to produce a resume of no longer than 2-3 pages, depending on ministry experience. A resume is not an autobiography. 
  7. Lying on a resume. The problem exists in our work, too. In today’s world of instant communication and Google searches, somebody will discover lies on a resume.
  8. Submitting a sloppy resume. Misspelled words say you didn’t take the time to use a spell check. A blurry picture says you don’t care about details. You might be slick, but a sloppy resume may mean you never even get an interview. 
  9. Failing to notify or update references. Sometime ago, a church called for a reference for a student I have not spoken with in over five years. An uninformed, surprised reference does not help you much.
  10. Not doing enough homework about a potential position. Read the history of a church. Know their doctrinal statement. Do enough homework for God to say, “Be cautious here” if needed even before you accept an interview with a church.
  11. Not asking enough questions in the interview process. The search team is interviewing you, but you’re also evaluating them in the process. At a minimum, be sure to ask questions about the church’s basic theological positions.
  12. Holding on to anger toward your last church. If you’re still bitter toward another church, you’re not fully ready to move on. You will serve better tomorrow if you “get over” your issues with yesterday’s church.
  13. Assuming the grass is greener elsewhere. Sometimes it’s just not. Sometimes, in fact, it makes your last place of ministry look surprisingly good. 

What other mistakes would you add? 



  • I would add, “Failure to review governing documents.” The form of governance has a huge impact on length of pastoral tenure. If the prospective church has a system that vests the pastor with a high level of responsibility without a corresponding degree of authority, that’s a problem. By contrast, a church that has well-allocated authority among leaders and members is more likely to be healthy.

  • John Thomas says:

    Dealing with more than one church at a time!

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    I revised my earlier comment. The revised version is as follows: I would also recommend talking with previous pastors of the church and other individuals who may be familiar with the church if it is at all possible. They can offer invaluable insights into the church. These insights may help a pastor determine whether he would be a good fit with that church.

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