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Questions I ask when interviewing for a youth ministry position

Youth ministry interview questionsI’ve already tipped my hat to many of the things I’m looking for when exploring the possibility of taking a church’s youth ministry position in my post about improving the youth pastor search committee and when sharing the characteristics of the church I work in next. Most of the things I’ve talked about so far are more intuition things I pick up on through the course of our discussions than they are hard-and-fast tangible points, but there are some things I ask about directly, as well.

Here are some of the generic questions I’ll ask a church when interviewing for their youth pastor role. I rarely come right out and ask these point blank one right after the other. They’re more like guidelines of things for me to bring up, ask about, and ask for clarification when the issue comes up another way. And most often I’m not looking for a specific answer to any of them, more for the heart and vision behind the answer.

I think it’s also important to ask the same questions to many different people throughout different conversations. I’ve learned not to assume that one person always speaks on behalf of the entire church. A parent on the search committee who communicates certain expectations, values and especially freedoms does not always have the authority in the church to stand up and defend those principes if you accept the position and they are later challenged by others. Or a Senior Pastor may not always be in touch with what the parents and students in the church are feeling. I try to get a variety of answers from a variety of people.

  • Why is this position open? Why not hire someone from within to fill it? How long has it been open? Would you be open to letting me talk with the previous youth pastor if this relationship looks like it could work?
  • What is this church’s vision and how do you know if you’re accomplishing it? Who leads the vision? The pastor? A team of people? The congregation? What good things does this vision eliminate from what this church does and what it becomes?
  • What role does missions play in this church, both cross-cultural and local? Do you do family trips, youth trips, go through your denomination, etc?
  • What kind of “growth” do you look for and who evaluates whether there is enough or not?
  • What would a healthy youth ministry look like in your church?
  • What are your essentials and non-essentials in hiring someone for this position?
  • What are the three top ministry highlights for you this past year? (What they share and the details they include hint at what that person’s values are in ministry.)
  • Is there a process for staff evaluations and what does that look like?
  • Would you say the church leans more toward discipleship or evangelism? Why?
  • Is there currently any type of ministry that reaches out to parents? If not, what do you envision that could look like?
  • Do you prefer if teens attend church service with their families or sit with other friends? (Which they prefer doesn’t matter much to me, but how they explain their answer reveals a lot about their priorities and values.)
  • Will someone invest into me while I invest into others, and what will that look like?
  • What is the sr. pastor’s involvement level with the teenagers and youth ministry?
  • What books are you reading lately? How are they influencing how you guys do ministry?
  • What are your expectations for staff development? What resources are put toward professional development (books, conferences, continuing ed, etc)?
  • What’s your 5 year vision for this church?
  • What kind of relationship do you expect the youth pastor should have with the sr pastor? Good friends, professional friends, buddies, what?
  • What types of events do you expect and what purpose do they serve in the youth ministry? Do you think the event driven model of ministry is still working?
  • What boundaries would you expect between my church work and online ministry? When the ministry is running smoothly, is it appropriate to answer emails from other youth pastors, write blog posts/articles? Do speaking engagements come from vacation time?
  • How much engagement and focus should there be on connecting with students in their online world?
  • What’s your perspective on intergenerational ministry versus the traditional stage-of-life ministry philosophy (where people are separated based on age or stage of life they’re in)?
  • Have you read the book, “Simple Church?” What did you think?
  • Is there an expectation to connect with other local youth pastors?
  • How often is there turnover on the church board? Do they oversee mostly church business or ministry or both?
  • Are people coming to know Christ as a direct result of this ministry?
  • Tell me about your staff meetings. (How they spend their time in staff meetings suggests their true values.)
  • What price would you be willing to pay to reach new families? (I leave “price” ambiguous on purpose and listen to if they assume monetary, time, resources, level of risk, etc.)
  • What role do you see a youth pastor serving in your church?
  • Do you have any expectations for the role my wife plays in the church and the youth ministry?

QUESTION: What questions do you ask when interviewing with a church?


Posted on June 21, 2011

  • T.J.

    I always ask about taking vacation around holidays because my wife and I like to go see family for the holidays every other year or so.

  • Gerrard Fess
  • http://grahambaldock.blogspot.com Graham B

    When I was between youth ministry positions I had numerous interviews. Some were good, others were… less good.

    After a dozen or so interviews (note to self: don't leave a ministry position in the midst of the GFC!) I could work out a lot of things about a perspective church by asking four questions.

    What is your church known for by those in your community?
    If, in 6 months, the new youth minister is exceeding expectations, what would they be doing?
    If the church was given $50,000 tomorrow, what would they spend it on?
    What expectation would the church leadership and congregation have on my family?

    From these questions, I would get a solid handle on what the church values, what they thought they are doing well and what direction they want to go.

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