Help! My Child Wants to go into Ministry!

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When your child wants to pursue a career in ministry, it’s both exciting and scary. Most parents want to be supportive, but they also have questions about what this means for their child’s education and their future. We’ve been educating future ministers and missionaries for 125 years, so we have answers – and this fall we’re launching our Pursue Conference designed to help students explore these callings.

So where do I start?

  • First, stop and give thanks. You’ve done something right—your child is dedicated to serving God! Be sure your child knows how proud you are, even though you may also have questions or concerns. It can be easy to miss this step in the face of all of the unknowns.
  • Do your homework. As with any other profession, it makes sense to learn as much as possible about this new career choice. Talk to current ministers, schedule college visits, and talk to other parents whose kids have chosen ministry as a career.
  • Your child probably already attends a local church. However, now is the time for your child to take on more responsibility at church and try different kinds of ministry. All of these experiences will be helpful in deciding what kind of ministry to pursue and learning what a life in ministry might entail.

Common Questions

  • How do I know if my son or daughter is cut out for ministry? Great question! It must begin with a student who loves Jesus and feels compelled to make a real difference for the kingdom. Ministers—and students who are considering ministry--do not have to be perfect or have it all together. If your child is not the greatest speaker, is shy, or still lacks some Bible knowledge, do not worry. This is where picking the right college for ministry training comes in. Bible knowledge and skills for ministry can be taught and sharpened.
  • Can my child earn a livable income as a minister? Yes! We tell students they can expect to get paid about what a school teacher with comparable experience earns in the community they are looking to serve. Not every church pays equally, but our experience has been that the school teacher’s wage is a pretty accurate comparison.
  • Are there jobs available for ministers? Once again the answer is yes. At Johnson we have more requests from churches seeking viable candidates than we have students seeking ministry positions. The median age of a minister in the United States is 57 years old. Many predict a minister shortage in the next few years with so many ministers set to retire or step away from ministry.
  • Does it matter where my child goes to college? Yes, but maybe not for the reasons you expect. Doctrine and church affiliations matter when it comes to choosing a college for ministry. You will want to pick a college or university that not only offers a ministry degree, but also lines up doctrinally and has connections with your particular church tradition. These issues are important when it comes to finding scholarships, helping your child secure internships, and ultimately finding a job after graduation. Johnson University has historically affiliated with the Christian churches/churches of Christ. We are an excellent ministry training school for students from many different church traditions, but we are exceptional when it comes to those who share our heritage.
  • What kinds of ministry positions are out there? There are numerous types of ministry positions in the church today. The most common include preaching, adult discipleship, worship, youth, and children. In addition, some churches have pastors specializing in missions, sports & outreach, special needs, women’s and men’s ministry, and ministry to senior citizens.