Number of New Zealanders who identify with a religion dropping
Opportunities for ministers of religion tend to be limited as the number of people in New Zealand who identify with a religion is dropping. For example:
- only 55% of New Zealanders identified with a religion in the 2013 Census
- the number of people in New Zealand who identify as religious dropped by 10% between 2006 and 2013, and this trend is expected to continue.
However in some faiths and parts of the country, there is demand for ministers of religion because:
- a high proportion of ministers of religion are approaching retirement age, with 15% aged over 65 in 2013
- between 2006 and 2013, the number of people in Auckland who identified with a religion grew, meaning better opportunities for ministers of religion in that region
- at times, specific faiths cannot find suitable ministers of religion in New Zealand. As a result, Immigration New Zealand has a process where suitable people from overseas can apply for a religious worker visa.
If you feel called to work as a minister of religion, the first step is to approach the leaders of your faith, or the relevant national organisation, to discuss what your next steps should be.
According to the Census, 5,025 ministers of religion worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Ministers of religion may work part time, or voluntarily
Three-quarters of ministers of religion work full time.
Some communities can't afford full-time ministers, so some ministers combine religious work with counselling work, for which they are separately qualified and accredited.
Many faith leaders/ministers see their work as providing a service to the community, and essentially work as volunteers. In exchange their community may provide them with accommodation and food, and/or pay their expenses.
Most ministers work for religious organisations
Most ministers of religion work for religious organisations such as churches, mosques and synagogues. They may also work for:
- the armed services
- not-for-profit organisations with a religious focus (including overseas missionary organisations).