For those of you searching for a ministry position, you need to know Craig Janney, the new congregational reference and referral specialist at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Get to know Craig–and learn more about his work! Read this recent Baptist Women in Ministry “interview” with Craig.

Craig, tell us a bit about yourself–your education, calling, and ministry experience. 

I hold degrees from Chowan University (a B.A. in religion) and Gardner-Webb University (an M.Div. in pastoral studies). I was called to ministry in 1997 while attending Vinton Baptist Church as a youth and was ordained in 2009 by the First Baptist Church of Ahoskie, North Carolina. During my time in divinity school, I served as a youth and music minister at a church plant in Polkville, North Carolina. The fluidity of my calling also extended to my undergraduate alma mater, where I served after seminary as an associate campus minister, instructor in religion, athletic chaplain, and “admissionary” (read: Admissions as an extension of my calling). From 2010 to 2015, I served as the bi-vocational pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Seaboard, North Carolina.

You began work with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in April. Tell us about your new role and your contribution to CBF life.

My job is to connect churches with individuals seeking ministry positions throughout the Fellowship and to equip search committees with resources for filling their church staff positions. Recruiting and retaining churches and clergy to CBF is my job. Every church searches for ministers differently; tailoring my work to each congregation is refreshing and rewarding.

For those who aren’t familiar with LeaderConnect, could you tell us how it works?

CBF’s reference and referral ministry uses a proprietary virtual relationship matching database called LeaderConnect. Churches and candidates fill out profiles. While search committees post open ministry positions, candidates upload a resume and occasionally a general “Dear Search Committee” cover letter.

After a search committee has posted an opening, I review their profile, ask any questions to clarify the position, activate their profile, and run a matching query (using on fourteen criteria). Once the match is run, I will send the church targeted resumes for their ministry opening based on ministers’ experience, preference, compensation, geography, and philosophy. Typically, churches receive between five and sixty resumes depending on how many they would like and how far along they are in the search process.

What are other resources do you personally or CBF as a “denomi-network” provide for ministers looking for a position?

Many people are sympathetic to churches actively involved in searching for a new minister and rightfully so. Discerning a ministry transition for clergy is equally taxing to her/his spiritual life and family. Keeping a balance of professionalism and anticipation for the unknown next often yields those dreaded “dark nights of the soul” as one pastor reminded me recently. One resource I provide is compassionate, pastoral care to ministers in transition. The sacred work of holding these stories confidentially is similarly vital to celebrating new places of ministry.

Beyond pastoral care, I take time each week to look over resumes and cover letters to make sure ministers are providing the right information to search committees in an attractive, user-friendly way. Coaching our clergy about how to interview over the phone, via Skype, and in person is another offering I provide.

Developing relationships is one of the great benefits of our denomi-network! LeaderConnect is a high-tech algorithmic database and CBF is a high-touch beloved community. Every minister and every church using reference and referral receives encouraging, prayerful, and intentional service.

What resources do you provide for churches and other “searching” organizations?

Our mission at CBF is to “serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.” Reference and referral is committed to assisting churches in their search for a leader who will serve the unique mission of a congregation.

Many search committees use our targeted match-making ministry to supplement their search efforts. A few churches enlist us to be their sole avenue for receiving resumes and profiles, which brings uniformity to their process and levels the playing field for the ministers–among Cooperative Baptists, this phenomenon is gaining traction.

Our website has a list of articles and resources search committees have found useful to frame their work. While these resources are by no means exhaustive or cookie-cutter, they do provide guidance for churches doing the hard work of defining, searching, vetting, and calling a new minister.

Candidates would do well to browse through these resources to help them understand what information search committees are using to inform their process.

What are some of your dreams about the future of CBF and how your work contributes to that future?

Along with the LeaderConnect system, which helps with leadership matching for churches and applicants, the vision for reference and referral is to create, provide and curate a wealth of resources for church search committees, recent graduates, individuals seeking church positions and those looking to employ all levels of church positions.

Ruth Perkins Lee, director of ministries at CBF, and I are going to be visioning this August for what the reference and referral ministry will become. Expanding Ministers on the Move at General Assembly, offering workshops around reference and referral to equip ministers and churches with best practices, and expanding our reach while maintaining bespoke attention are among our priorities.

What is the best advice you have given or received when it comes to the search process?

Getting a job is a job. Approaching the search process as your job requires an investment of your time. As one who has hired and has been hired, nearly every interview has the same skeletal questions:

Q: “What can you tell us about yourself?”

A: Write a paragraph–because you’ll have to write copy for your new employer’s website eventually–and commit it to memory. Practice it every day to make it natural.

Q: “What do you know about us?”

A: Describe the church/organization in fourteen seconds or less. Define their niche, reinforce their brand, and build excitement for the future. Some churches have a robust “About” section on their website; if not, ask a state coordinator, former professor, associational director, or city administrator how they would describe the church/organization.

Q: “Why should we hire you?”

A: Demonstrate your awareness of the key skills, expertise and experience required to do the job and give concrete examples (read: narratives) that prove you possess those skills. Bullet point the things that energize you about that particular job.

Q: “What questions do you have?”

A: Prepare three good questions that begin with the word “What . . . ” During your interview another question might arise; write it down, but always start your question with “What . . . ” to keep their answer open-ended. The more a search committee talks, the more you learn.

Change always makes people stressed; and stressed spelled backwards is desserts, so choose your flavor. Also, if you’re ever passing through the Atlanta metro region, or see me at General Assembly, let’s get together and talk over . . . you guessed it, desserts!