The Great 8:28: Eight Years in Review

Eight years ago (July, 2008), my family and I felt God’s call to leave our beloved Main Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, KY to serve in the Campbellsville University School of Theology.  I can’t believe it has been 8 years.  I still dream about Cincinnati chili and wonder who has claimed my Red’s clergy pass.

During these 8 past years, I have been so honored to serve alongside 7 churches as transitional pastor: Parkway Baptist, Bethany Baptist, Living Grace Church (2xs), Lancaster Baptist, Hurstbourne Baptist, Stanford Baptist, and Monticello First Baptist. We also were invited to do short preaching stints at Pleasant Grove Baptist & Hodgenville Christian.

We had no idea that transitional ministry was going to be God’s plan for us to stay connected in local church ministry all the while teaching full-time in the classroom at CU.

For three years, I traveled the country on the LifeWay Kids VBS training tour and for the past 5 years been a content developer and camp pastor for LifeWay CentriKid Camps.  These ministry opportunities still amaze me.  I am so unqualified to represent such a top-quality national ministry.

In the School of Theology, I’ve been so blessed to teach amazing students, travel to Israel and Jordan (2xs), Greece, and Turkey, and work with some of the most encouraging people on the planet.

Then, starting in 2015, God opened the door for me to try my hand at academic administration as the Dean of Online Education.  Again, I am humbled by the chance to stretch my leadership wings and explore what it means to lead & teach in the Christian university setting.

Over the past 5 years, Jennifer (my beautiful wife and ministry tag-team partner) started, finished and graduated with her Ph.D. in Family Ministry from Southern Seminary and began her teaching career also in the Campbellsville University School of Theology.  When we left Main Street 8 years ago, this idea wasn’t even in our wildest dreams.

Most importantly, above all else, both of our handsome, strapping sons have trusted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and have followed Him in believer’s baptism.

Isaac surrendered to Christ during a worship service at Hurstbourne BC saying during the invitation to his mother, “Momma, I need to be saved.”  He was baptized a few weeks later.

Ethan prayed to trust Christ during VBS at Campbellsville BC while his Momma was explaining the Gospel to the children.  He was baptized a year later in Monticello FBC.

We praise God for His work in the lives of our sons.

Eight years.  2008-2016.  Wow, what a ride.

In a few weeks, we will finish transitional pastorate #8.  And the question of “where next” is upon us.  But we are holding fast to the GREAT 8:28 from Romans 8:28.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

Wherever He leads, we will go knowing that God’s amazing purpose for our lives is for our good.

He has worked.  He is working.  He will continue to work all things together for our good.

My Ministry Dream

"Follow Your Dreams"I have a dream.  A ministry dream. Nothing as world-changing as Dr. Kings’ dream.  But a dream nonetheless.

For years, God has been forming a dream in my heart for a very different type of future ministry.  The only problem is I haven’t found a church to take me up on the offer.  I’ve twice laid the dream out to a group of church leaders and I’ve twice seen the strange looks on their faces staring back at me.

I am not sure why my ministry dream is so radical or far-fetched.  I think it could be a church revitalization plan in the making.  I think it would expand the ministry outreach of a church in decline and bring a fresh wind of leadership and momentum to any congregation.   I think it would solve numerous problems in one fell swoop.

But it’s bold.  It’s different.  It requires a significant among of trust, faith, and dependence in the Lord.  It requires rethinking staff leadership and what is means for “outsiders” to come in and take over.

What is my ministry dream?  I am so glad you asked.

For the record, this has never been shared publicly.  It’s raw and unbaked.  I am sure it needs refinement through godly counsel and wisdom to be effective and practical. There is, no doubt, significant problems I haven’t explored or even considered.

I share it now, here, publicly, because I am nearing the end of my eighth transitional pastorate.  It could be that there is a church somewhere around Campbellsville who might be in decline and need a church revitalization plan that is out of the box.

It might be time for this dream to be birthed in a church in central KY.

MY MINISTRY DREAM

STAGE ONE:  Reshape the Idea of Single Pastor to Pastor Team.
Most small to medium-sized churches have the largest single line item in their budget designated to the compensation for the lead pastor.  It could be 40, 50, 60k or more total package.

What if that amount was distributed evenly between 3 or 4 cross-vocational pastors? Each receiving 1/3 or 1/4 of the total compensation.  Each member of the pastor team would have responsibilities in teaching/preaching, volunteer development, and community outreach.

Because each pastor would be cross-vocational, they would not need health insurance, retirement, housing allowance, or other types of benefits.  The whole pastoral compensation package would be divided evenly.

The pastor team would come as a package, not piece-mail.  The team would already be arranged, much like a church planting core team, before the church even called.  The church wouldn’t be considering only one pastor, they would be considering the established pastor team.  Its a yes or no to the team, not the individuals.

STAGE TWO:  Access Young Leaders as Pastor Team Interns.
Since the church now has  3 or 4 pastor team members for the price of one, the other staff compensation would be used to bring on a series of ministry interns.  Call it a laboratory or ministry farm club or Paul & Timothy mentor-mentee type experience.

In my role as a college ministry professor, I interact with many talented, passionate young men and women who have a heart for God and who love His bride, the Church. They have gifts and skills that could be so powerfully used in the ministry of the local church NOW and later.   They need experience for future ministry and mentoring for personal development.

They would be easily connected with one of the pastor team members and be mentored in real-time ministry training.  All it would cost is the salary of a full-time secretary or second staff position.

With each pastor team member having at least one intern at their side, the church staff grew from 1 or 2 full-time persons to 6 or 7 cross-vocational staff.  And here is the kicker… the church budget hasn’t changed at all.  Not one additional penny has been spent, but the church staff has tripled.

Before I move to stage three, let me explain the rationale behind the pastor team and ministry intern approach in church revitalization.  

A church in need of revitalization feels flat or stuck.  They have exhausted their best efforts and don’t have the necessary energy to keep fighting the good fight.  They have a building.  They have a core group.  They have a few ministry teams led by stable servant-deacons.  They have a good sense of fellowship and community but the ministry approach needs to be refreshed.

When you bring in 3 or 4 new pastoral leaders plus a slew of ministry interns, all of a sudden there is growth.  Actual instantaneous numeric growth.  If each pastoral team member has a family, there’s growth.   The 3 or 4 ministry interns have friends who tag along on Sundays, so there’s growth.  The congregation feels like hope has arrived because they grew numerically by 20 or so on the very first Sunday.

Along with numeric growth, there is financial growth.  One of the key commitments for the team would be that everyone, both pastors, their families, and all ministry interns would faithfully tithe their income to the church.

For the 3 or 4 cross-vocational pastors that means tithing on their full income, both church and other job(s).  For the interns, that means tithing on their church stipend plus any other income they may have.

I’ve played with the numbers and I think a church would actually grow their budget (depending on the income level of the cross-vocational pastors and spouses). Financially, the church could have more resources immediately.   More financial resources means more ability to do ministry out in the community.

Along with numeric and financial growth, there would be instant momentum growth. Each pastor and ministry intern would be ready to go.  They would be excited, fired-up, enthusiastic, and passionate.  They would be ready to love on the people and reach out to the community from day one.   This kind of enthusiasm is infectious.

It would be like a heart that was in cardiac arrest and on its last leg having a shot of adrenaline jabbed right into it.  The heart would explode back to life.

STAGE THREE:  Shift Meeting, Planning and Church Admin to Remote and Digital
After serving 8 churches as transitional pastor and only 1 of them being in my own town, I’ve learned that planning, meeting, and strategizing about ministry can be handled remotely.

With a laptop, cell phone, and collaborative apps such as Planning Center Online, Evernote, Remind, and Slack, you can pretty much keep everyone on the same page from your backyard.

Now there are times when people need to sit down and talk face-to-face. There is no replacement for meaningful dialogue and team prayer times around the kitchen table.  But you can do a lot more administratively via remote than you might think.

Having someone in the church building 40 hrs a week is simply not necessary. Consider church plants who function for years in rented space like a movie theater or elementary school.  They are required to do volunteer training and leadership development away from the physical building.  Much of that is completed from their laptop.

Staff meetings can be remote (I’ve done them).  Training volunteers can be via video. Idea sharing for worship, preaching and teaching can be done in the cloud.

For this reason, I think my dream could work for a church that was in one city and the pastoral team and interns living in another.   For example, I could see a church in Elizabethtown, KY (50 mins. away) embrace this dream with the pastoral team members and interns living in Campbellsville, Louisville, Hodgenville, or Greensburg.  I don’t believe the entire team would need to be in one location or even live in the city of the church.

That’s my ministry dream.
Reshape the idea of single pastor to pastor team of cross-vocational pastors.  Access ministry interns and put them in the shadow of every pastor team member.  Rethink church administration and communication from in the building to in the cloud.

I truly believe God has put this dream in my heart.  At age 39, I pray I will see this dream become a reality in the next decade.

Why I Keep Saying “Thank You But No Thank You” to Full-Time Church Ministry

no thank youFor the past 8 years, I have served in cross-vocational ministry.  I have willingly, intentionally, and consistently turned down several gracious invitations to return to “full-time” church-based ministry.  “Why did you say no?” you might ask.  Please let me explain.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with full-time, church-based ministry.  It is a high calling and something I believe firmly in.  As a ministry professor, I am thrilled when I hear that my students have accepted their first FT position on a church staff or in a para-church organization.  I remember well my first FT ministry position and how it changed my life forever.

However, I am seeing some trends in the larger landscape of ministry today that compel me to stay in a cross-vocational role with no plans of making a change in the future.

What are some of those larger landscape trends?

1. Issues with insurance.  While none of us enter into ministry to make the big bucks, the reality that self-employed insurance premiums can  drain our monthly budgets very, very fast.  Even with new government-subsidized insurance plans available, the cost is still significant to a ministry family.

If there are on-going medical needs, monthly prescriptions, or the desire to have a large family full of little ones running around, you could see a fourth of your monthly take-home pay devoted to medical expenses.

Churches are doing their best in trying to help their ministerial staff, but in all honesty, they are only able to provide a small portion of what is actually needed.  Going cross-vocational can assure that a second employer is there to help with medical expenses and possibly even provide medical insurance as a benefit over and above the salary.

2. Access to influence.  Everyone knows that the community influence once held by pastors and ministers is waning in the US.  The church is being pushed further and further to the periphery of society, being displaced from the central position it once held.  A voice once sought after in community affairs is slowing being silenced from the public dialogue.

Yet, by remaining cross-vocational, you’re influence in not tied to your church position. It’s tied to the relationships and networks you’ve built within your community. Because you work in this industry or are a member of that professional group, your voice within community is held much stronger.

3.  Invitation to conversation.   There are two types of people never invited to the party: the pastor and the police.  Yet, Jesus was constantly being invited to gatherings of all sorts.  He was invited because people wanted to hear what he had to say.

When you’re only answer to the most avoided question – “What do you do for a living?” – is pastor or minister, you know the conversation will quickly end as walls go up and stereotypes flood in.  But if your honest answer is teacher, nurse, sales, event planner, web designer, then you have a chance for the conversation to move forward. You will be given the opportunity to build a relationship and engage in a conversation which eventually could lead to the topic of faith.  When your lead is “preacher,” the conversation is pretty much over.

4.  Financial freedom from the finance committee.  Lastly, I continue to say no to opportunities to return to FT ministry because, frankly, I don’t trust a committee or volunteer group to hold my financial future in the palm of their hands.

I am not opposed to churches utilizing finance or stewardship teams in making decisions on salaries and compensation.  I actually applaud congregational leadership and place value in seeking and hearing from wise counsel in decision making.

Yet, I don’t want an argument or disagreement I’ve had with one member of a single committee to become a foothold in my heart, creating fear and anxiety about my next paycheck or raise.   Nothing makes my blood boil more than a volunteer committee using the pastor or church leader’s salary as leverage to get what they want.

“If you don’t bend to my way, you will never see an increase as long as I am on that committee.”   This mentality is the exception to the rule, I assure you, but I have seen it with my own eyes and know it happens all the time.

The FT minister can be stuck between leading with courage and boldness and facing fear about feeding their family all because of a disagreement with someone on a volunteer committee.  When you have an income coming from somewhere other than the church, you can lead far more courageously.

For these reasons, and others, I am happy to say “no thank you” to the gracious invitations to return to FT church-based ministry.

Personally, I see the cross-vocational calling aligning well with the words of the Apostle Paul,

For you remember, brothers and sisters, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (1 Thessalonians 2:9)

 

The Pharaoh Effect in Leadership

10 So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” 12 So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” 14 And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?” Exodus 5:10-13

pharaohHave you ever been confronted with the workplace concept of “do more with less.” For example, be more efficient with less people. Or be more productive with less resources. Or make more sales with a smaller sales force.

Pragmatic leaders can often look at efficiency, productivity, and task management through the lens of the Egyptian Pharaoh in the days of Moses.

We read in Exodus 5 that after a confrontation with Moses, the Pharaoh, or king, ordered the Hebrew slaves to continue their brick making, but without their daily supply of straw.

To make bricks you needed mud, straw and lots of sun.  Pharaoh’s punishment was to remove one of the necessary elements, normally provided to them, so that their work would be harder.  They would now have to gather the straw AND  make the bricks.

Yet, they were to keep their same quotas; meet their same daily goals.  Do more with less.  Keep up the same productivity levels, but now with less resources.

I call this the “Pharaoh Effect” in leadership and I see it everywhere in organizational life.  Do more, expect more, demand more, but with far less resources, staffing, and support.

How can this be considered good strategy?  How can this not be considered what it was in Moses’ day – cruel and harsh punishment.

As a mid-level leader myself, one of my goals is to constantly advocate for my team to the upper-level executives.  To show their value, efficiency and productivity to those who make the highest decisions.   I must work hard to never become the task-master who sees their work as inferior or secondary to my own.  The minute I begin barking orders and cracking the whip on them as slaves, I loose my leadership influence forever.

In other environments, I find myself as a first-chair leader.  I would never go as far as considering myself anything like a Pharaoh or king, but in some situations I sit atop of the organizational chart.  In that role, I must never, no matter the budget shortfall or the climate in the boardroom, choose to remove necessary resources from my team with the hopes of greater productivity.  I simply can’t take away the straw and expect the same number of bricks.

“Sorry team, our computers are gone until we pick up the numbers.”  “Sorry team, vacation and sick days are gone until we see third quarter gains.”

If the straw must be removed, competent leaders must find other ways to encourage their teams toward ingenuity, creative pragmatism, and out-of-the-box thinking to rebuild and grow.

The Pharaoh Effect in leadership is everywhere, but it should be avoided.  Give your teams the resources they need to succeed otherwise they might take an “exodus.”

 

 

4 Advantages to the Rural Church

Written by guest contributor Mr. Zach Gray – Master of Theology student in the Campbellsville University School of Theology

ruralWhile the statistics show that the Southern Baptist Convention is in decline, potential growth can be found back at its beginnings: small rural churches. For these churches, which have remained the “backbone” of the convention, the potential ministry is growing. For the sake of argument the term “small” are congregations numbering roughly 150 or less and “rural” meaning those churches out from the city limits serving a particular but smaller community. This concept is best known if you’ve ever been to one; you would remember it. So why would these type of churches have an advantage over a large church with many resources? Assuming the people are sold on the idea of doing missions there are at least 4 advantages for small rural churches on mission.

1.  Location, Location, Location.  

For those who have lived and attended church in the rural U.S., especially the South, the churches we attend have existed in the same spot for years. While some take the mindset of “if they were going to come they would’ve done so by now” approach, there is some advantage to this. When these churches were built, they were made at the center of the communities. It represents a place that brought people together. Jump back to 2016; these places are now known for division and disunity. If you’re the type of church that is serious about reaching the community you can still tap in to the former opinion, but now you have to prove it. Getting people back into the building could depend on your ability to draw on their familiarity with your location coupled by showing them that once again the church is a place where they are wanted.

Your immediate community, whether they realize it or not, know right where you are. It is part of the scenery on their daily drive to work. In recent years I have seen and heard stories of churches opening their doors for other reasons than to hold a service. With sometimes burdensome drives to town for the community, churches have become hosts for programs like A.A. or celebrate recovery. The possibilities here are limited only by imagination. Allowing other groups to use the facilities on off days can become a creative way to recapture some sense of the church being a community place and also a place where they care about people’s struggles. Every opportunity that a non-believer has to be inside your building can be turned into an advantage in ministry.

2.  Room for Growth

Older church buildings have experienced renovations and additions over time. Many churches, including my own, built with an anticipation of numerical growth. When this didn’t happen many were left paying on unused or underused space. When a congregation decides to become missional what are they to do if they experience rapid growth? The reality is that many churches could hold many, many more people that currently attend. If growth begins to take place (and I hope it does) the church has some space to grow into.

Another aspect to take into account is that this space may allow you to reach people you might not be able to reach otherwise. Growing up in farm country in central Kentucky, I would see a large number of Hispanic workers come in the summer to work in the tobacco fields. With the help of some Spanish speakers and our abundance of space we were able to house not only one congregation on Sunday morning but two! Since these were seasonal workers, they didn’t have a centrally located place to meet. This opened a whole other avenue for ministry as a church and while maintained, became effective in our community.

3. Ruth

Though these types take many names, they’re all essentially the same. These are the people that know just about everybody and the name of their dog. They’re usually older, outgoing, and been in your church a long time. Chances are they know your parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, friend, neighbor, or if nothing else, somebody that looks like you. The potential here is great. Since relationships are so key to doing ministry these people are masters of conversation starting and making connections. This can never be underestimated when it comes to church growth. If a visitor or new community member can’t feel connected within a relatively short amount of time, you might have already lost your chance. Where others may not know how to interact initially, Mrs. Ruth digs to find that one thing that could connect them with your church.

4. Numbers

In the eyes of many a small church size is an indication of failure or weakness. In some ways it could indicate a failure of the church to faithfully carry out its mission, but regardless of what caused the numbers to be small, you can use it as a strongpoint. For a world that is the most connected we’ve ever seen (via social media and smartphones) we are also among the least connected of any previous culture. The problem is that we have lost depth to our relationships, and now people are searching for it like no other time. The small rural church has something to offer: intimacy. In a way your strength can be in lack of numbers. This is an advantage that small churches have over big ones. Small churches generally allow more opportunity to let relationships run deeper. Offering a genuine sense of belonging should resonate with the community, and allows an avenue for spreading the gospel.

While this list is not exhaustive, I think it is a good place to start. For far too long small rural churches have been wrongly characterized as ineffective, but the true value is not in the numbers but in the ministry that takes place. If you are part of one of these church, realize that you have strengths to fulfill the great commission and spread the gospel.

#PreachingAintEasy

Written by guest contributor Mr. Justin Williams – Master of Theology student in the Campbellsville University School of Theology

pewI’ve been in the ministry for almost 7 years now. Next to being a teacher and husband, this is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me and is a source of joy, pride, and stress all at one time.

There truly is no feeling greater than getting up and standing in the power and presence of God to deliver His Word to people who need to hear and feel something that is greater and more powerful than themselves. But, I have somewhat of a confession to make… It’s not all as easy as some of us make it look.

I hear the wheels of your head spinning. So, let me help you understand what I mean. From a very early age, I was ‘hooked on drugs’. Yes, I was drug to Bible Study; drug to prayer meeting; drug to Sunday School and any other church service or event that was typical in the Black church tradition.

Needless to say, I was- and still am- a ‘churchboy’. This meant that I was exposed to much of the stereotypical characters of the church, including the black preacher.

Stereotypically, the black preacher was fiery, full of fervor, somewhat well-dressed (depending upon whether or not he/she was from the north or deep south), and could whoop like nobody’s business.

Yet, there were the negative stereotypes as well.  Greedy, fat, uncouth to a certain degree, and flirtatious.

Still, the majority of what I saw growing up fell into the former category and not the later.

On top of all that, God had the audacity to call my mom into the preaching ministry, which now meant that my siblings and I had to assume another moniker, “preacher’s kids.” Needless to say, at least one of us was bound to follow in these sacred footsteps. Furthermore, I bit that bullet!

Since being brought up in the closed doors and back doors of the preaching world, I have come to the realization that the deck is stacked against anyone who describes themselves as “called” to the preaching ministry.

You have to deal with the cliques, isms and schisms, and temptations of what I have begun to call The Industry. Behind the Sunday morning façade, there is a world that many people do not know of. What used to be seen as a noble profession and calling has become a caricature of what I believe it originally was.

Many of the headlines of recent years confirm exactly what I am feeling. From sex scandals to fraud and embezzlement, it is no wonder that many people would prefer to stay in the world than to come into the embrace of the local and ecumenical church.

Despite all this, I dare venture to say that there are still some people, like me, who believe in the power and efficacy of the preached Word. There are still some who do not mind holding up the blood-stained banner for truth, love, and righteousness. There is still a remnant that exists among the broken and scattered pieces of the Kingdom.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon me to sound the clarion call to all those who are maintaining the Kingdom in remarkable and unimaginable ways. Now is the time for us to come together and do the real work of MINISTRY. There is a cry in the land for more relationship and less religion. The time for just ‘having church’ is now over.

I have come to the realization that authentic ministry is now being done in unconventional ways. Though the Word remains the same, the methods and tools of ministry are different and have an almost instantaneous global affect. With the advent of social media and other instant sharing platforms, the propagation of the Gospel has reached a level of exposure that has never been seen before.

That being said, I have resolutely decided that preaching just ain’t easy. I know that that was improper grammar. But, it was a necessary colloquialism to express a sentiment that could only be understood with the eloquence of ebonics. There is pressure to be relevant, engaging, and holy all at one time. Additionally, you have to avoid the pitfalls and traps that are set for you by the trap kings and queens.

Now, more than any other time, I believe that preachers and church leaders must strive for impeccability in public as well as in private. With the world losing respect for the church, impeccability should be at the forefront of pastoral care and functioning.

Don’t get me wrong. Not at any point did I think that ministry would be easy- in any sense of the word. I think what is more important is that now I see exactly how complicated the call can be. There is always a balance between being trendy and being true to one’s self; being used and doing unusual ministry. We as preachers and leaders have to be careful to still maintain the efficacy of the Gospel to save, heal, and deliver while balancing alternative forms of ministry in a world and time where gimmicks are everything!

The Bi-Vocational Pastor

Written by guest contributor Pastor Jermaine Wilson – Master of Theology student in the Campbellsville University School of Theology

tug-o-war1I have served as a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church for the last sixteen years.  Within the 16 years, I have held other jobs.  This dual role has taken a toll on me spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  It is demanding because it is hard to find a balance with two professions, a wife and two kids.

The reason I continue to be bi-vocational is two-fold: 1) the need for me to provide for my family and 2) my desire not to be a burden on the church.

When I first started out in the ministry, an older preacher gave me some wise advice.  He told me to always make mention to every church you pastor, that “your family is second only to your relationship with Christ.”  I heard what he said, but at that time, I was still single.  I few years later, after getting married and having the first our two children, I understood what he meant.  I knew that it was my responsibility to make sure that I was providing for my family.

Over the years, as I was promoted to larger and more demanding churches, I would receive remarks from other pastors that I needed to stop working my secular job.  These pastors were telling me this because the churches I pastored, were historically led by pastors whose sole vocation was pastoring.

My father in the ministry has even made the comment to me that I was greedy.  I was unpersuaded and still stand on the premise that I need to be bi-vocational.   1 Timothy 5:8 says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (NIV).

It is very expensive to provide for the basic needs of children.  I believe that God wants me to do my best as it relates to providing for my family.  I have learned to look pass the comments of others because they do not know my situation.

The second reason I remain bi-vocational is my desire to be a blessing and not a burden on the church.  The last three congregations I have served were financially so bad that I had to take a significant cut in salary.  All of the congregations had less than $300 in their accounts and one of the three was on the verge of foreclosure.  Being bi-vocational not only helped the church but it also kept my family from going without.  The people at each church were so appreciative that I was willing to make the sacrifice in my salary, and they saw that I was there to serve them.

I have seen pastors and their families struggle financially because they were too stubborn to supplement their salary from the church with another income.  Not only does the pastor’s family struggle, but the church struggles as well.  Perhaps these pastors did not want to put in the extra work.  Unfortunately, when situations like these arise, it can lead to the pastor doing some unethical things.  I know pastors who are so desperate for money that they will ask the members in their church for a loan.  This is an unacceptable practice that can cause a major rift in the congregation.  I have also seen where pastors will find a way to steal money from the church.  This has been done through the pastor taking loans out in the church’s name, receiving rent money from tenants who lease property from the church, and unauthorized use of a church credit card.  Not only is this unacceptable, but also a criminal act which could land the pastor in jail.

You cannot be lazy if you are going to be bi-vocational.  It requires you to manage your time well, be intentional with spending time with your family and delegating duties. Time management is essential because you do not want to find yourself wasting time.  I work 37.5 hours a week on my job.  I therefore plan all of the church activities in the evening.  There are times when I must take off work and be at the church during the day.  These times include funeral services, church conventions, and celebrating an accomplishment of a parishioner.  I can only do evening bible studies and all meeting are held at night.  Sometimes, instead of having a meeting at the church, I conduct conference calls.

My wife is very helpful with planning family outings.  I try not to schedule any church activities on the days I spend time with the family.  My goal is to keep my Saturdays open and to devote that time for family.  Sometimes, this does not work.  On occasion, there are funerals and meetings in my denomination that I’m expected to attend.  Friday evenings has also been a time to spend with family.