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Leaving Ministry Career Options

Career Options After Ministry

Many dream of leaving their corporate careers to enter into full-time ministry. But there are also pastors and ministry workers, who for different reasons, would like to leave the ministry and enter into the mainstream workforce. Ministry can of course continue, regardless of where you are working.

What are the career options for pastors and ministry workers who leave the ministry?

Every situation is unique and every exiting ministry worker will come with his or her own set of skills, qualifications and experience, so I can only make some general suggestions and comments, without any specific knowledge of your specific circumstances.

A few years ago, I read an interesting book (called Pagan Christianity) which opened my eyes to some of the struggles that Christian Pastors face when considering leaving the ministry. There are a lot of expectations placed upon Pastors and it is a burden that often leads to burn-out. Being responsible for spiritually feeding a whole congregation, week-in, week-out can be exhausting, especially when you are also expected to effectively operate as the CEO within the church, managing a team and dealing with all of the congregational and management pressures.

A Bachelor of Theology is a prestigious qualification within the Church, but it is less so in the corporate world. Many pastors who exit the ministry choose to do further study, in order to gain qualifications that are recognised and appreciated in the corporate world. Others move into sales roles, school chaplaincy, customer service or business coaching.

If you are looking to exit ministry, you should obviously be seeking guidance from God and from Christian friends and leaders, but there are also some practical things that you can do. You can assess your skillset and then begin to explore career paths that are best suited to that skillset.

Common Skills for Pastors:

  • Excellent Verbal and Written Communication skills
  • Public Speaking
  • Writing
  • Teaching
  • Leadership
  • Management

Common Attributes for Pastors:

  • Empathy
  • Wisdom
  • Humility
  • Compassion
  • Honesty
  • Courage

These are not exhaustive lists, but hopefully, they help to give an indication of skills and attributes that might be transferrable into the corporate world. If you are looking to move from ministry into a different career path, it would be worthwhile to look at the above lists and adjust them to suit you personally. Ask a friend or family member to help you identify your strengths.

A Starting Point
Below is a list of general career ideas for you to consider. You might have some totally different ideas, so begin to create your own list.

  • Life Coach
  • Business Coach
  • Counselor
  • Social Worker
  • School Chaplain (it sounds like a ministry job, but in secular schools, very little spiritual input is allowed)
  • Real Estate Consultant
  • Sales Rep
  • Customer Service Manager
  • Business Development Manager
  • Missionary
  • Teacher
  • Presenter
  • Team Leader
  • Manager
  • Small business owner
  • Franchisee
If you have been operating as a ministry leader or pastor within a community for some time, you will likely be a respected member of that community and will be well connected. Don’t be afraid to network and call on the people whom you have been pastoring and ministering to. If you have a good relationship with them, they will want to help you with your transition and might be able to connect you with the right people and provide a glowing character reference at the same time.
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