There seems to be churches throughout most towns. And you'd think in this time of uncertainty, people would be flocking to them. But the bad economy has hit the job market for clergy—and donations—resulting in an unfortunate glut of highly educated ministers vying for few available jobs.
According to an article in The Tennessean, there are four ministers looking for work to every one job opening in the Presbyterian Church. Quoting The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the article says there are over 600,000 ministers in the United States, but only 338,000 churches. Many small congregations can only afford part-time ministers or share ministers, says the article. And many older ministers are not retiring as early as planned, lessening the usual number of openings. Also, most ministers’ wages are frozen.
With the job market for all occupations poor, ministers’ spouses, many of whom are also in professions, are wary of moving to a new location—or of selling their homes. Another problem, one that also affects physicians, is that a lot of the few openings are in places that new ministers do not want to live. So some have decided to wait out the economy by seeking alternative employment, often in the counseling field.
There is also a unique consideration for pastors—the turnover problem. Sometimes churches are pastors are just not a good “fit,” so moving to assume leadership of a new church is fraught with chance.
Luckily, software has been developed to help lessen the chance of mismatches by matching compatible candidates with churches based on their résumés (wait, this sounds familiar). And there is hope as churches try to attract new members, the job market will open up.