Ask me about the Diaconate’s job search ministry. It’s my favorite topic. It is what I do three days a week, reaching out to help those in our church family who are unemployed and seeking work.
In June, 2008 I retired from my company. Toward the end of that month I happened to ask Jenny Chang, our Diaconate Director, if she had anything I could do for one or two days a week. Yes, she did. The Diaconate had launched a job search/coaching ministry as part of our 2005 Vision Campaign initiative and was looking to expand, and I had just completed the NJ Department of Labor, Professional Service Group curriculum teaching job search skills. Wow! What a fit!
I started coaching congregants receiving Diaconate care in August and immediately built on the core resume writing training by added interviewing, networking, and what I came to label as the job search paradigm. In the fall when the job market collapsed, we expanded the coaching for those receiving Diaconate care to include sessions for the larger Redeemer family.
These sessions are called Job Search Skills Training. My mission is to replace the anxiety and discouragement all too often experienced in today’s job search with solid job search skills presented in a gospel-centered environment. I believe that all job searches regardless of work, education requirements or pay grade encompass the same processes.
First you have to know with assurance what job you are looking for and why; second you need to understand the components of the job search; and third you need to proceed toward their mastery. There is little room for anxiety and fear, so much a part of the secular world. We recognize these emotions, but crowd them out with knowledge, experience and faith.
The teaching process I use is more coaching than teaching. In teaching, the material is presented and the students graded on what they have learned and how well they have learned it, all in the classroom setting. In coaching I show participants what they have to do to achieve the goal they want, and then stand with them as a guide and encourage them to follow the process. I myself am encouraged by the results and also the support not only of the Diaconate but also by Stephan Lehtonen, and my volunteer resume support team.
Participants’ feedback about the training is excellent. In addition, as sessions progressed, there were requests for post training support, a time and a place for participants to stay connected and help each other. By June 2009 we put this together in collaboration between the Diaconate and Center for Faith and Work. We launched a weekly two-hour meeting to provide networking, accountability, prayer and spiritual teaching. We call it the Job Search RoundTable.
Our job search skills training sessions provide the tools for a successful job search. The RoundTable provides community, encouragement and hope. Each Thursday when we gather a different Redeemer staff member has volunteered to teach on a relevant subject from a biblical perspective. Attendees come when they can, and volunteer their services as they can and as the need arises. We like to say that the RoundTable is for job seekers by job seekers.
As with the skills training session, the RoundTable has been well received. The two work well together. We know that God is still at work and in control even when we are in between jobs, and we can either look for a job with God’s help or do it alone. One participant confirmed the necessity of relying on God by sharing, “I learned a lot from the workshop about the skills of getting a job but what a difference in a spiritual environment full of care and support.”
Our job search ministry is a blessing to all who are involved, leaders especially. It is a fine example of the church serving congregants where they are. It is an expression of love and concern within the community of believers. Quoting from James 2:22 (NIV): “You see that his faith and his actions (referring to Abraham offering his son Isaac on the alter) were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”
For further information go to www.redeemer.com/care/ career_center/. You will find details on a number of relevant support services provided by Redeemer, including the RoundTable. Under career directions you will find the job search skills training schedule.
The Diaconate is Redeemer’s mercy ministry addressing the needs of those in our church family experiencing hardship. The Diaconate is our response to God’s calling to be merciful, to love and care for one another in practical ways. If you need practical assistance, call the Diaconate Helpline, (212) 726-1334.