Though beliefs differ, the common link of those involved with religious work is each individual’s dedication to religious pursuits. Those involved with in religious ministry work are often devoted with such types of volunteer jobs having similar and related duties. For example, all religious leaders tend to the needs of their congregation. Religious leaders also often have similar administrative tasks, overseeing the functioning of an office. Despite the similarities in duties, however, the clergy representing each religion do have differing religious responsibilities.
The particular activity into which any Protestant minister is channeled depends on the number of suitable openings in that area, or the area the minister prefers, and also on favorable action by a directing authority, such as a bishop, conference, synod, district superintendent, or denominational board. In churches with congregational authority, the minister is retained directly by vote of the congregation, acting on recommendations of a search committee who chooses from a list of eligible candidates supplied by the denomination. In most churches today, the pulpit is only one of the minister’s responsibilities. In smaller congregations, the minister looks after all functions. In larger churches, however, associates and assistants are retained not only to preach and officiate at the growing number of second services on the Sabbath and on the other special days but also to administer christenings, conduct marriages, preside at funerals, supervise religious instruction, spearhead various programs of lay activities, and direct the music program. Moreover, in some denominations, the ministry goes far beyond the local church. There are home missionaries carrying on religious, educational, and welfare functions, as well as directing medical programs among the underprivileged.
As part of its volunteer job, ministers are responsible for administration and teaching in private schools, colleges, and universities, and seminaries. They are also found on the editorial staff of religious newspapers, church magazines, and religious book publishing firms. At denominational headquarters, ministers direct church-wide educational programs, finances, personnel, radio and TV programming, men’s work, women’s programs, and youth activities. Similar responsibilities are exercised by ministers assigned to interdenominational organizations. A minister’s work is not restricted to the altar and the pulpit. It embraces all forms of counseling and teaching of human relations, as well as such areas as the teaching rostrum, physical and mental healing, the printing press, and electronic communication. It should be emphasized that personal counseling, sometimes the principal assignment of an assistant minister in a larger congregation, remains one of the important responsibilities of members of the clergy in whatever work or in whatever area they may be engaged.
Although the ministry is hardly a calling to financial affluence, members of the clergy do receive basic living expenses to answer their personal needs. In larger congregations, with more than one minister, the senior minister will need experience and administrative ability. He or she will be called on to provide direction in areas of finance, personnel, human relations, and public relations. Assistant ministers engaged by local churches to head up activities in religious education and to direct music programs will need the firm foundation of special seminary studies and music courses. Continued professional education can be obtained in summer school courses and from reading the current literature.
Getting involved with volunteer coordinator jobs, a number of ministers are working with the underprivileged, migratory, minority, and foreign groups, as well as on Indian reservations. Likewise, they must be able to live under adverse conditions, to improvise and make do with limited resources, to adjust to different outlooks, and with foreign groups, to have a working knowledge of the language and culture of the people. Tact and persuasiveness also are helpful qualities when the home missionary is called on to deal with the representatives of government and private agencies and with employers. Denominational home mission boards are financially responsible for the men and women they assign to the field, as they are for retirement and other benefit provisions.
Furthermore, ministers engaged in the administration of schools, colleges, universities, and seminaries need to have training and experience in general administration involving fund-raising, personnel work, and industrial relations, as well as good grounding in education and educational methods. Those who teach in such institutions must reinforce their ministerial training with specialization in education and continue advanced study in their subject of instruction to earn the necessary degrees.
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