Friday, April 06, 2007

Youth Pastor Search

Once you stop blogging, it's hard to start again! I guess I've been busy screening youth pastor candidates so let me talk about that journey.

The history is that after a three year run, our previous youth pastor (Andre) resigned. He's currently working as an engineer...what he went to school for. Since last September, Brad Kehn has graciously stepped up to be our interim pastor. Brad works full time as the Director of Youth Alive, a ministry to youth ministries (offering camps and training). Brad has added his Cedarbrook duties to his already full plate. We tried to hire someone last summer but we didn't find the right match (lots of candidates). Now we've resumed our search. We aren't just looking for anyone to fill the slot. We want someone who can build on the foundation that we have for youth as well as fit in with our somewhat different approach to church.

It's interesting to review the resumes because so many of the candidate's work history (75%) stops 1-3 years ago. For one reason or another, they were fired or quit and they have been unable to find another position. That makes me uncomfortable...hiring someone with a failed experience...but that's the nature of the beast. Youth pastors often go into a church setting, expected to create a thriving ministry but they get caught in an unfriendly church political environment with unrealistic expectations on them...or...they have little experience and can't juggle all the balls expected of a minister. Either way, they end up on the street, wounded, disillusioned and looking for a new home. The average stay for a youth pastor is 1.5 years!

It's also hard for me as I review resumes because I'm looking for someone who matches our ministry philosophy but realistically, these are young people who are still in process. They don't know what they believe for sure. And that's probably another reason that they fail. They take a position thinking that they agree with the church on everything but then their thinking evolves and they move away from what the church wants.

Speed-interviewing? Frustrated with a pile of resumes that seem more or less the same, I came up with an idea. You've probably heard of speed-dating. I decided to do speed-interviewing. Rather than spend time emailing and calling candidates, trying to narrow down the pile, I decided to invite them to visit a Sunday service and meet with me and a few leaders briefly. It's not an interview really. It's just a "meet and greet" time to help both parties decide if there is any chemistry. We haven't done this yet but I'm in the process of inviting people in April. I'm hopeful that it will bring clarity to a very muddy process.

I hope to report that we've found the perfect candidate yet this spring!

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