Working in the religious ministries sector should be thought of as a calling more than a career. Becoming a member of the clergy, in particular, is a lifestyle. Rather than clocking in from nine to five, clergy may be called upon at all hours of the day, every day of the week, to perform ceremonies, attend to the needs of congregants, and ponder and write sermons and other messages. They must also be active members of their community and even deal with administrative needs of their church or synagogue.
There are various types of positions within the religious ministries, depending on the religion, but most individuals choose the path because they want to serve God, build community, and lead others in their spiritual journey. In the United States, the most specific job opportunities exist within the Christian and Jewish religions. Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism have no central organization and in many cases no ordained clergy. Their leaders are sometimes professionals but often are distinguished laypeople who supervise, teach, and preside at services.
The Christian faith is divided into the Catholic and Protestant Churches, and these are further divided into various sects. The Catholic Church has a very formal structure. Top positions are held by unmarried men. Women can serve as nuns and teachers and in some cases assist in services. In Protestant churches, women can be ordained as pastors and ministers, teach, and participate in any other function. The Jewish faith is divided into four denominations. In the United States, rabbis serve as the leaders of their congregation and are responsible for teaching the Torah, giving messages at service, and providing counseling and guidance to congregants.
Throughout history, religious leaders were considered the most revered in their community. Today, ministers in all faiths are regarded with similar respect but are subject to the approval of their congregation, which has the ultimate say. Many leaders ...