By John Pierce

Classified advertising in our print news journal and online often helps ministers to know about open places of ministry. Our managing editor Jackie Riley does a good job of encouraging churches and other organizations to advertise such positions with us.

In addition to helpful advertising revenue, although our classified rates are low, we get good feedback. When a church in St. Louis and their pastor from Paris, France, connect through our publication, I feel a little like Neil Clark Warren.

When I backed into journalism as a second career about 20 years ago, there were some Baptist and other Christian publications that wouldn’t advertise ministerial positions. It seemed too secular to be associated with God’s call.

So ministers looking to move relied on more spiritual methods — like handing out a handful of resumes in a convention exhibit hall or asking an influential pastor friend to call an open church and “put in my name.”

My rambling thoughts about all of this surfaced this week during the multiple rounds of proofreading before sending a new edition of our news journal to press.

It is interesting to see how churches self-identify in these ads as well as what they are looking for in a candidate. There are usually certain stated minimums for education and experience that are either “required” or “preferred.”

However, language about a perspective minister’s spiritual giftedness and maturity can be a little more tricky than saying a candidate should have an M.Div. from an accredited seminary and at least five years of full-time pastoral experience.

Words like “strong preacher” are sometimes used. However, even the weakest preachers think of themselves as gifted pulpiteers. So that doesn’t usually reduce the pool in any way.

Responses from potential ministers to some longer ads require a way of saying: “I possess every gift you are looking for — and am a humble servant.”

Several years ago, a Baptist congregation in North Carolina advertised in a state convention publication that they were seeking a pastor with “the mind of God.”

Wow. Perhaps the composer of the ad was reaching for a phrase like “a heart for God” and grabbed the wrong one. But I wonder how many job-searching pastors responded: “Me, me, me.”

Anyway, I am glad that many ministers and congregations have been well matched through our classified ads. The Spirit of God moves in ways I dare not try to explain or limit.

So we will keep offering this service that often brings good feedback like: “When the resume came in response to our ad in Baptists Today, we knew the candidate was more likely to be like us.”

And we’ll keep proofreading the ads — with as much descriptive information as church leaders wish to post. And we’ll pray for a successful connection between minister and congregation.

But proofreading the same ad — “seeking a gifted, experienced, mature minister with…”  — for the third time can rattle my mind. So often at the end, I mumble a little addition: “And long-haired freaky people need not apply.”

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