Career counseling ministries pool resources to help churches minister to job seekers

PLANO?Pastors and lay leaders from four states gathered for a conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano on April 25 to get equipped with tools to start ministries to some of the more than 13 million unemployed American workers.

“We haven’t seen this many people experience job loss in 25-30 years,” said Lynn Guillory, founder and executive director of Career Transition Ministries Network (CTMN), which organized the conference. “It’s a tremendous harvest field out there and a tremendous opportunity.

“We use ‘job-seekers’ in a rather generic way to mean those who are underemployed, unemployed, misemployed or even nervously employed,” Guillory said.

Since 2000, CTMN, a nonprofit parachurch ministry based in Dallas, has offered free weekly meetings and weekend workshops that go beyond teaching job skills by ministering from a biblical perspective to those in career transition. But as unemployment numbers hit unprecedented levels, CTMN’s leadership became burdened to do more.

“It was apparent to our ministry that we were uniquely equipped to recruit more workers for the harvest field by providing churches with a ministry model to quickly establish a ministry that addresses the needs of the millions who are unemployed,” Guillory said.

CTMN partnered with the Christian Coach Academy, Crossroads Career Network and Crown Financial Ministries to put on the conference. Leaders were given resources to help them create a Christ-centered, biblically based ministry model, where the gospel is presented, believers are encouraged, and job seekers are taught cutting-edge job search skills.

Guillory, a professional in the human resources industry for more than 35 years, opened the conference with an appeal to church leaders to see career transition ministry as a harvest field for the kingdom of God.

“If you’ve looked at people who have experienced job loss, you know that many times they are harassed?harassed by corporate America, harassed by work and the pressures of this world?and many are dispirited because they have never come to faith in Jesus Christ,” Guillory said.

“While we want everyone to be gainfully employed, I think we must focus on the real opportunity. We believe that it is our job to walk with a job seeker through that trial called ‘job loss.’ We believe it’s a faith journey because we’ve seen many people come to faith in Jesus Christ.”

Not only does Guillory see it as a ministry of evangelism to the unsaved, but he also considers it a ministry of encouragement to believers.

“Christians are losing their jobs, as best as we can determine, at the exact same rate as unbelievers, because while the Bible is full of promises, nowhere in Scripture do we find a promise of employment stability,” Guillory said. He said churches must not overlook the opportunity to minister to church members during such difficult times.

Susan Whitcomb, author of “The Christian Career Journey” and president of the Christian Coach Academy, encouraged conference attendees to create ministries that show love to job seekers and help them see their work as worship.

Using the acronym J.O.B., which stands for Journey Of Becoming, Whitcomb said employment is a “journey of becoming more like Christ. It’s a setting for us to know him and make him known even if we’re in secular environments.”

Jim Symcox, a member of Parkhills Baptist Church in San Antonio, attended the conference to gain knowledge for how his church could start a ministry to job seekers. About six months ago, he sensed the Lord was leading him to help create such a ministry. Having nearly 20 years of recruiting experience, Symcox believes God wants to use difficult economic times for his glory.

“I don’t think our recession or depression is by accident,” Symcox said.

“It may be God’s desire to create such hardship in people’s lives that they are drawn to him. They’re in such pain that they start seeking hope, and they start seeking help, and we know that Jesus Christ is the answer to these things.”

Although pastors and lay leaders came from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Guillory hopes to provide the training to more than 5,600 churches across the country. A DVD of the conferen

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