Monday, March 13, 2006

A Cover letter to a Pastor's Resume

Since I recently posted a biblical want ad for a pastor, here is an excerpt from a cover letter sent by a pastor to the search committee of a church. This letter came to a church I was assisting in their search for a pastor. I was astounded by the arrogance and copied by hand this portion to keep as an example. Here it is:

Dear Search Committee:

As a pastor with many years experience, I think I may be well qualified for the position of senior pastor that was brought to my attention via the internet outlining your church and need. You will see from the enclosed resume that I have pastored a number of churches. In each case I was able to raise the spiritual standards of the church, increase its effectiveness as a positive witness for Christ (in one case, my current pastorate, doubling Sunday school attendance), and attracting new members in significant numbers.

Having met and exceeded my goals in my present position, I want to challenge myself with a more demanding position. __________ Baptist Church appeals to me very much as this type of challenge. [His only knowledge at this point is a paper add]
I would like to discuss this position with you and will be happy to come in for an interview at your convenience.

Is humility a characteristic desirable in pastors? In fairness it is not often encouraged, especially in resume writing. Yet, the attributing of the numerical growth to himself does seem grossly apparent. There is the typical assumption that increase in numbers means health. The worst part to me is the idea that since his goals have been met and exceeded he is ready to move on. God seems to be significantly absent. And, what does it suggest about pastoral ministry if the goals can be met and then you move on? Isn’t the primary goal the oversight of souls? Can this be ‘met’, completed, this side of eternity? Of course the suggestion to the receiving church that they will be a good ‘challenge’ is an interesting use of condescension in order to woo a church!

May the Lord deliver us from this sort of attitude and deliver His church from would be pastors with this attitude.


Ryan Hill said...

Dr. Van Neste,

Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it. This pastor's cover letter is not something I would want to write, but I was wondering how you would recommend writing a cover letter or constructing a resume that does not appear arrogant but also sufficiently describes why you think you would be a good candidate for the job?

Mark said...

My take on the subject of resume writing is this: Although a resume can say some things on paper about you, it can never vouch for your character like an older, more mature Christian man who knows you through and through. Nowadays, we trust a simple piece of paper and then wonder why we end up with a big mess within our churches. If I was in charge of a search committee looking for a pastor, I would certainly not be impressed with a laundry list of accolades...yet it would knock the socks off me if I saw a Statement of Belief, a Philosophy of Ministry, and some references. Then, I could know where you stand and call a couple of people who have stood beside you and watched God develop your character--as hopefully you have been proven as a dilgent worker among God's people. Then, I would know for sure that your intent is to shepherd God's people and genuinely guard over their souls--and certainly that's the kind of candidate we want in our churches!

Ray Van Neste said...


I just typed out an answer and it failed to go through so I lost it all!! I'll try again soon.

Ray Van Neste said...

Now, I ve given a longer answer in a full post

Sweet Mummy said...

My husband is beginning to search for another 'call' as senior pastor. In searching the internet for ideas about how to put a pastor's resume together (we haven't even looked at this stuff in at least 6 years, and at that point we were fresh out of seminary...) I came across this post. My jaw just dropped when I read the pastor's letter. WOW! What a good example of how NOT to write a cover letter! Thanks for the reminders on these points. I can't imagine my husband writing anything that looks even remotely like this... he just couldn't bring himself to say those things about himself or his churches!

There aren't a lot of good examples of pastor's resume layouts online. It kind of looks like 'anything goes' in terms of format. In your experience, was there a specific type of resume that you found more helpful as a search committee member?

Thanks again for this post!

Ray Van Neste said...

I made some comments on resume writing in a post a few days adfter this one. You can find it here:

Tammy Shoup, CPRW said...

I would venture a guess that the writer modeled his cover letter from a secular version which encourages job seekers to use numbers to convey their value and effectiveness to an employer.
Ministry cover letters are written to introduce yourself to the hiring authority / selection committee, present factual information about yourself that complements your resume and convey your desire to serve the Lord and the specific needs of the congregation. I hope this helps your readers.

James G. said...

Rather than boast about what YOU have done - tell the great things GOD has done WITH / IN you!