Ministry Job Searches: 3 Things Churches Should Do When Looking to Hire Staff

chartI haven’t updated much about our job search recently. Can’t go into details, of course, but we have been talking to some folks. God is working, he is moving. He’s got the timing. I fully believe he will answer the prayer of petition we have been praying. He will bring us a job in ministry that will allow us to do the things God has called us to do.

If I was in charge, I would have already moved us. There were a couple of openings I was sure would be right for me. I just knew I would be the candidate. Guess no one told them. Over the past few months these things came up and faded away. There is some promise on the horizon, though. Pretty excited about the possibilities.

But I wanted to give some advice to churches and ministries who are searching for new staff.

1. Send rejection letters. No one likes to get a letter that says you weren’t selected for the job. it’s no fun. It’s a kick in the gut, every time. Know what’s worse than getting a letter? Not getting a letter or call for weeks. You’re left wondering if they even got your resume. Or left with false hope, when in reality the job is already filled. For the sake of everyone involved, once you’ve eliminated an applicant, send out a letter.

2. Don’t initiate contact and then drop off the face of the planet. More than one church emailed me, asked to set up a phone interview or something. Then just dropped away. There is something satisfying about getting that first contact. You feel good, they chose you out of all the applicants. It’s natural to have high hopes. It’s not fun when those are dashed.

Churches, if you initiate contact with a potential candidate, follow through. Even if the decision is a “no” you need to complete the conversation. Say you email someone, and then life intervenes and you can no longer pursue the candidate or the position. Tell the people involved. Knowing is so much better than not knowing.

3. Give salary ranges up front. Go ahead and post the general range right in the job description. At least indicate whether it’s an entry level position or not. That is a huge clue to what the position pays. This will be a major time saver for you and anyone who applies. 

On the flip side, don’t assume you can’t afford the applicant. One church who contacted me and asked for some more material did the disappearing act. I heard through a mutual acquaintance that it wasn’t that they didn’t want me. I was qualified, and they were interested. But they decided that they couldn’t afford me, without ever asking. People who apply for ministry jobs can figure out pretty quickly what a fair salary package would be. We know that smaller churches and ministries can’t compensate the same way larger ones can. It’s not about the money.

I always tell any church I interview with that I need a salary that allows me to support my family in their community. They know how much it costs to live there. They know what they can afford. Smart applicants have taken the time to find out what it costs to live in the community. Both parties should be free to communicate those realities.

These are just a few things I’ve run into in our current job search. What other things should a church do when looking for staff?

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Amazon Intant Video, CreateSpace, Aggregators and Episodic Content

{Update: You should now look into Amazon Video Direct. Fixes a lot of issues with Amazon instant Video.}

handy videoI’ve been looking for ways to get the episodes of Peculiar onto streaming sites. There are a few aggregators out there, but many require you to fork over several hundred dollars in order to have the content submitted. Then there is a chance it won’t be accepted.

One place that will take anything you submit is Amazon. If you send it, they take it. And Createspace offers a simple way to get your content online.

But it’s not perfect. The workflow of the Createspace submission is: Create a project, burn a DVD (!) and mail it to them. They rip it. They place it online and share the sales with you. Sorry, no Amazon Prime access for your content. That’s right, you must make a standard definition DVD of your video project and they will rip their file from that compressed mpeg2 file. There is no way to upload your content, and no way to sell HD content through Createspace.

But it is free and fairly simple.

If I had a movie I would probably have already just sent it in. But I have 10 episodes of a show.

When I asked about sending episodic content in, I was told they no longer allow that.

That seemed odd, since there are tons of TV shows grouped together as seasons on Amazon Instant Video. And from that phasing, Createspace used to allow indie producers to group their content together as well. So I asked why.

In true major company help desk fashion I had to ask three times. Every time I asked why they don’t allow indie producers to group episodes, I was told what they allowed. They said, that’s right, we don’t allow it. On the fourth try I finally got an answer.

It seems that some users ruined it for the rest of us. A few people were uploading movies broken into multiple parts, and asking customers to buy multiple installments. Customers complained. The hammer dropped. I personally think it’s a bit of overkill for what had to be a small problem, but it’s their company.

I was preparing to submit each semester of the show (6 episodes for the 1st, 4 episodes for the 2nd) as a separate movie, when I ran across a new aggregator. This one is called Kinonation. I’m still researching them, and waiting to hear back if they allow episodic content, but on the surface it seems like a good thing. no upfront fees, just a split on the backside. For a project that may not see huge sales to recoup lots of submission fees, this seems like a good deal. Oh, and the submissions are eligible for Amazon Prime.

So, I’m waiting to hear back, and ready to move toward online distribution of the show.

2 Ways Afronofsky’s Noah is Like Other Christian Movies

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.39.04 PMI confess, I finally saw Noah.

I got it from Netflix. I know, I told everyone to embrace this movie and go see it in the theater. But then the reviews (not the speculations, but actual reviews from people who had seen the theatric release) came out. It was bad. Really bad. I mean… rock people? Wonder why those didn’t make the trailer. Oh right, because they were a horrible plot device. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Because of the hype and controversy, the movie still grossed $43.7 million on opening weekend in the US. $95 million worldwide. It was well on its way to making back the $125 million it cost. It wouldn’t be a flop. So, I decided not to spend my money on a bad film. I don’t mean bad as in unbiblical. I mean bad story.

But, now I have seen it and I can say that it is likely the most unbiblical Bible movie ever made. There is just so much that is way out in left field. That topic has been thoroughly covered by others.

But there are two ways Noah is just like other Christian movies.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.29.22 PM1. Heavy handed message. We get it, you think people who eat meat and destroy the environment are bad. Stop hitting us over the head with it.

No one wants to have any message shoved at them. Tell the story. Trust your audience to see the themes. You don’t have to be so obvious to get your message across. Your audience is media literate. They will get it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.27.37 PM2. Convenient plot devices. Oh, you don’t want to deal with Noah taking hundred’s of years to build the ark? OK, just create a fictitious race of rock people and have them feature prominently in the film.

It’s just unbelievable. There’s no reason to add them to the story. Noah needs help to build the ark? Rock people. Noah needs help to defend the ark? Rock people. We need a reason for the division of humanity and an origin for the bad guys? Rock people. They are such a large part of the film story that we have to wonder how the biblical story ever got told without them. Frankly, it’s lazy. It’s unnecessary and it clouds the bigger story… which apparently in this version is that men are evil and eat meat and destroy the world, so they must be cleansed from the earth.

Blake Snyder in Save the Cat talks about this particular plot mistake. He calls it Double Mumbo Jumbo. He says that “audiences will accept one piece of magic per movie. It’s The Law. You cannot see aliens from outer space land in a UFO and then be bitten by a Vampire” or in our case you can’t have the “Creator” supernaturally destroy the earth and save one family in an ark AND have a race of fallen angels walking around in rock bodies. There are lots of common story mistakes, and many religious films have them. So does Noah.

The moral? A huge budget can’t fix basic issues in your film. No amount of ILM created CGI can cover them. An all star cast can’t save you from them. Even this blockbuster suffers from the same things that many religious projects do (my own included). Don’t worry that your budget isn’t million of dollars, or your actors aren’t A List. Just tell a good story. If you do that you’ll be miles ahead of a most movies.