Normally, at the end of an interview for a job the panel might ask a candidate . . . “do you have any questions for us?” Take the opportunity, here are my top six questions you MUST ask ::
1. What is the Vision of the Church for [Children’s Youth and Family Ministry] over the next five years?
Often, at interview, the person being interviewed for the post might get asked this question. Please, please, PLEASE ask the question back to those doing the interviewing! It is not sufficient that a local church wants to employ someone . . . their whole church vision has to have children’s youth and family ministry as a core priority. A good church looking for a worker should have a clear answer to this question . . . !
2. What would an “effective” first year look like to you?
Again, you might get asked this at interview as the prospective appointee – but, you and the church need to be on the same page with expectations. Maybe the church thinks you should start 6 new activities in the first year (WAY to much), maybe they think you should just hang out with young people and be chilled (WAY to little). There needs to be clarity around what “effective” looks like – and, steer away from words like “success”. It is a loaded word and carries unhelpful connotations – often associated with how MANY young people you are working with . . . rather that what you are actually DOING with those you have.
3. What are the “work” hours?
This might seem obvious, but again – really important to be clear. My rule of thumb, if you are “required” to be at something it should fall under work hours . . . if something is optional, then you should get to decide! Why mention this? Because I have seen some churches suggest to a worker that their Sunday attendance (which is required) is part of their gift to the church . . . Don’t be told what your gift will be, decide for yourself! If you are full time, anything between 35 and 40 hours is reasonable (from the tax mans point of view anything above 30 is usually considered as full time work). Where it might say “some evening work required” again, be specific – do you get to determine this or are there established things you have to be at? Ensure you have AT LEAST a full day off every week . . . and, where possible, work no more than 2 out of 3 sessions in a day . . .
4. What is the budget?
Your pay and any associated benefits are not the budget for the work! It is worth asking, rather than getting a shock once you have started . . . personally, I would want a break down for each age group you might be responsible for so you can manage that for different activities – this is not your personal expenses . . . this is actual budget for groups. i.e. your under 5s group has an annual budget of £200 which enables you to purchase toys, music cds, do publicity, get teaching material etc.
5. What Equipment and Space do I have to work?
Again, this might seem obvious – but I increasingly see people being employed by churches where there is no office space, no computer, no printer . . . and this stuff has not been thought about until someone starts. Get some clarity at interview. This equipment stuff should also include things like a work phone or something allocated within your expenses to enable you to claim for work related phone calls. If you are going to need to carve out some work space at home – firstly, it is really helpful to know that and secondly, if you have a bit of your home which you predominantly use for work . . . you might be able to claim expenses for a percentage of your heating, lighting etc.
6. What provision is there for ongoing professional development?
This question is about the commitment the church is making to you (yes, I know they are paying you and hopefully will be providing a safe and fun environment within which to work) and your ongoing development in ministry. I would hope for occasional retreat days, a conference once a year with peers in ministry + the chance to engage with peers around areas of particular concern (e.g. managing and developing volunteers, mentoring young people, suicide and self harm training, social media skills development etc). The more a church offers in this regard, the longer you might choose to stay . . . our commitment grows where we know a church cares about us as individuals and not just about what we are delivering . . .
Well, those are my 6 – maybe you have your own questions you would recommend asking the interviewers? Please add a comment with your suggestions!