Higher Education – Degrees in ministry and divinity are all fine and dandy when applied to higher education, but what on Earth does a professor of theology actually do? Aside from the very busy university-based careers of your own professors, a Doctor of Theology can assist the intensive research as needed by scholars, historians, authors, anthropologists, even other ministers - and this is a very short list indeed. When you think of the growing popularity of Christian entertainment, remember that behind all of the movies, music, novels, and Biblical study aides are a team of researchers with degrees in... guess!
Education – Private school teacher salaries are higher than public school teachers' salaries – that's obviously the first of many benefits of working in a Christian academy or Catholic school. Another highlight to private school instruction is the manageable teacher-student ratio, which means that your commendable teaching efforts are more effective and the success of your students is less opaque, leaving you better equipped to give meaningful feedback and encouraging rewards.
Counseling – A common misconception would have you believe that Christian counseling is limited to couples therapy whose marriages are under duress. Troubled teens, the mentally ill, and individuals coping with grief, addiction, anger and identity crises are just some of the clientele that might fill your appointment book. A degree in Pastoral Counseling equips you with the skills necessary to serve as a Christian mentor, whether from a church office or dedicated practice, shelters, prisons, family-centric non-profits, and missions abroad.
Church Management – Prefer to work behind the scenes? Have a knack for organization? Church Managers are the unsung heroes of Christian leadership because they coordinate activities, act as an intermediary between church staff and church members, and oversee all areas of the church body to ensure its smooth operation. Don't believe me when I say heroes? Consider the megachurches with thousands of parishioners; then consider the level of synchronization that social events for seniors and singles demand, as well as aligning missionary efforts, supervising sports programs for the youth... kind of gives you a new respect for church management, eh?
Chaplaincy – Military bases, universities, and hospitals all hire chaplains to provide pastoral care in times of need. Most jobs as an institutional chaplain require a Masters in Divinity, as well as a bachelor with spiritual or religious emphasis. Chaplains perform a wide range of duties for those they serve from basic ministry and counsel to simply providing much-needed comfort to those in need. Some cruise ships, large resorts, and rehabilitation centers also hire chaplains.
Missionary Work – Have you ever considered joining the peace corp? Do rounds of vaccinations, civil unrest and foreign bugs fail to elicit a bat of your lashes? You're definitely cut out for Missionary Work abroad, in that case! If you're stuck on the idea of foreign bugs, however, there are many opportunities for Missionary Work at home, too. For instance, when Hurricane Katrina rocked the Gulf Coast in 2005, volunteers from all religions and creeds played an essential role in consoling the thousands of evacuees left to grieve in its wake. Give local missionary work a test drive by actively volunteering – contact your Church Management office (the unsung heroes department, cape optional) to find service opportunities.
Church Planting – Creating a new church is no small feat. Establishing a congregation, building a community around faith, and mobilizing your ideas might seem like a swamp of (praiseworthy) work to some, and a life-calling to others. Are you self-motivated? Are you a “never met a stranger” breed of social butterfly? Do you feel more in harmony with the world when you're multitasking and challenged? Although the rest of the world wishes you'd come and multitask for us, your job-satisfaction potential as a church planter is without limits!
Internet Ministry – Consider for a moment the reach of your home church. The international charity work, the congregation, the outreach of the Youth and small groups. Now consider the reach of oh, lets say, your local newspaper's website. While they're both valuable components to your daily life, it's silly to deny that the internet is an amazing communication tool. If you've considered starting your own church or want to increase membership or participation from within your church family, hit the web! Start a blog, a podcast, or commit to a series of webinars - you could even include a digital offering plate for your international and out-of-town traffic.
And you may not have considered...
Sports Chapel Ministry – Home teams and traveling teams hire “freelance pastors,” if you will. They deliver a motivational oration to the team prior to a game in addition to basic pastoral ministry. Sure, it's a dream gig for pastors that are big sports fans but it's even more awesome to list Joe Namath as a reference on your resume!
Officiating Ministry – Ministers that need more flexibility with their schedule or are interested in travel might just get a kick out of a career in saying, “you may now kiss the bride.” Millions of modern couples opt for destination weddings every year – something that ministers in a couples home church can't always accommodate. If you'll allow us to depart to the opposite end of the spectrum for a moment without being too awkward, officiating ministers are always needed to eulogize at funerals and memorials.
Camp Administration – This is a great opportunity to volunteer as a member of a church. Not only does working as a camp counselor supplement your expertise in HR, facility management, and food service, you'll also get a lot of experience in youth ministry, which can be extremely rewarding. Plus, you get to learn a few very specific skills such as pulling gum out of hair and leading a group of anxious, mini-adventurers in creative prayer, in which you may or may not mention the number of venomous snakes native to the area.
IT Systems Administration – Does your home church have a Biblically large screen for praise lyrics that synchronizes with the choir or the band? It doesn't happen at a certain level of rocking (although, seriously, can we make that happen?) – it's the handiwork of a very capable IT Systems Administrator. Widely known to give guff, huff and puff, “IT guys” everywhere would get a run for their money at the work load and cheerful attitude of the church's favorite computer nerds. Did I mention how cheerful they are? All of the time?
A note about salaries of ministers, theologists, and preachers: there truly are no one-salary-fits-all averages because of the many directions you can go in with an advanced Christian studies degree in hand. Almost no one seeks a higher education in theological study for the money - I think we can all agree that individuals that do simply don't have their heart in the right place. The truth is that pastors, ministers, and clergymen have one of the most rewarding vocations possible and it's job satisfaction, not monetary reward, that validates their chosen profession.