The purpose of a pastor cover letter is to personally convey your interest in an organization or a specific job opening and to briefly introduce your key qualifications to the search committee. Think of your cover letter as you would the opening statement of your sermon. The goal is to capture attention and draw others into wanting to hear more! To make a great first impression, you will want to make sure your letter is straightforward (not too wordy) and that it encourages the reader to contact you for more information. Use the following 5 rules to tackle your cover letter with confidence:
1. Present a professional appearance through use of business letter format. Your letterhead should match or complement the style of your resume (using the same paper and font style), begin with date, organization name and address, and the salutation should always be to the appropriate person (listed in the advertisement.) If a specific name is not listed, you may consider using “Dear Friends in Christ”.
2. Use a straightforward three paragraph style. Your opening paragraph should highlight the position you are seeking (As an experienced senior pastor exploring current job postings, I was encouraged when I found your listing …) and your reason for responding (I offer several of the qualities you are looking for including leadership, program administration, and community outreach.) The next paragraph should summarize your experience relative to their needs (I bring hands-on experience in pastoral care, preaching, and teaching the Gospel of Christ, along with church administration and a strong desire to impact the community for Christ …) and the final paragraph should thank the committee for its time and consideration in reviewing your application and give invitation to further discussions.
3. Customize every letter. Take the time to tweak every letter to the specific instructions of the selection committee and don’t simply restate information shared in your resume. You have a lot to offer. Share it with warmth, humility, and focus while expressing your desire to serve as the Lord leads.
4. Proofread and Delete. Print your document then proofread! The printed copy looks different than the onscreen version and allows for easier editing. Read slowly and focus on one sentence at a time. Correct any misspelled words and delete confusing text. Return to the computer version to make any necessary adjustments.
5. Mail flat rather than folded. Make a great first impression by using 8.5” x 11” envelopes rather than the standard business size #10s. This small attention to detail will go a long way in communicating your professionalism.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2: 3-4 (NKJV)
Use this guide to break your cover letter into manageable parts. Start with the advertisement to create an outline and then match your qualifications to the needs listed in the ad. Now prayerfully start writing your way toward a cover letter and resume that paves the way for interviews!
Thanks for stopping by!
Tammy Shoup, CPRW is a Christian Resume Writer dedicated to helping Pastoral Candidates, Ministry Workers, and Christian Job Seekers launch a successful job search campaign. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and National Résumé Writer’s Association. She is also a past member of the Christian Writer’s Guild.