I felt a call to ministry when I was senior in high school. I began to pursue pastoral ministry as the natural first step, though, I sort of knew that I was designed for something slightly different. As I journeyed through college and seminary, doors were open for music and ministry in hundreds of little ways and it became both a passion and a job as I was in school. Upon receiving an M. Div from Asbury Seminary, I realized that I needed to continue in this specialized ministry in some way. It worked out that at the same time our church needed a part-time role and asked if I would be interested. That was 14 years ago now and both the part-time role and the other ministry I have worked with since college and seminary are still going strong, are well connected and exciting.
On many occasions I have run into people who are serving on part-time staff at a local church while leading or directing another ministry such as music, speaking, consulting, etc. Though I am sure there are downsides to this, I wanted to share some of the information for those who are in it or those who feel called to be in a similar set up.
Being involved in two roles is more than just two part-time jobs. It’s a way of living out a call in ministry. Anyone who is serving in an aspect of the church is participating in the kingdom work. And this is just one more tiny slice of how it can be done.
1) Director, Harvest Ministry Teams: Since 1996 with a mission to equip people for ministry while providing a resource to the church. We send out teams to serve as worship leaders for churches, conferences, youth events and camps. We also develop discipleship events and training conferences for worship leaders, youth pastors and pastors.
2) Worship Design Pastor, Troy UMC: In this part-time staff role, I serve as the worship leader for the middle service about 38-40 Sundays a year. This involves all the teams relating to worship and it involves developing the teams for worship leading when I am not in town. I also help in various other areas such as development of future worship leaders (through guitar lessons, youth praise bands, etc). And help with some of the PR stuff for the church (website, press releases, newsletters).
FINANCIAL BREAKDOWN: I receive about 40% of my salary from the church (a portion of which I put in for retirement), and 60% of my cash salary comes from the Harvest side. In addition, Harvest covers health insurance, travel, some retirement.
MONDAY – DAY OFF – Though this has been flexible over the years, depending on the schedule and the season, it sometimes is Thursdays.
TUESDAY – ADMINISTRATION DAY – Work at the church office on both Harvest and Church stuff. I attend the church staff meeting on Tuesday meet with people, send notes, letters, schedule teams for church worship and Harvest events. (rough hours: Church: 4-5 Harvest: 4)
WEDNESDAY- MINISTRY AND CONNECTIONS -Work at the church on both Harvest and Church stuff, take part in Wednesday evening programming and rehearsals, send newsletters or notes, get new songs together, fundraising information together, typically a long day. (Church: 7-8 hours / Harvest: 5 hours).
THURSDAY – MEETINGS / PLANNING / PREP Work on harvest, plan for events, meet with planning teams, preparation for weekend events. (roughly 5-7 hours for harvest)
FRIDAY – TRAVEL / PLAY / WORK Friday is up for grabs. If we have a weekend event, Friday is a full day – from morning until night. If we don’t have a weekend event, I split the times either taking some Sabbath time (if it’s been a crazy few weeks) or just leisurely working in the office or at home.
SATURAY – TRAVEL 80% of Saturdays are spent going somewhere or being somewhere else in ministry – serving at a retreat, conference or ministry event of some kind.
SUNDAY – LEAD WORSHIP / SERVE / TRAVEL If I am at our church, I spend the first six hours of the morning in Troy. If we don’t have a Harvest event that night, I start the Monday Sabbath early on Sunday afternoon.
BENEFITS TO THE CHURCH:
Presence in the Office: One benefit to the church is that I am in the office during the week. Whether I am spending time with Harvest work or church work, I am still there, present and available to take phone calls, answer questions about set ups, visit with people as they come in, respond in a pastoral setting as needed.
Specialized Roles When you have part-time staff serving in a particular area, you have specialization in ministry. I don’t have to find ways to add to my job to make it full time, I spend the hours I have doing what is needed and what I want to do. A church can also gain “credentialed” (I actually don’t like using that word) ministry leadership in a part-time fashion.
More manageable financial investment There’s no doubt that a part-time staff person helps the church accomplish more with less money. If a part-time staff grows there is a need to invest in a solid person who can take the lead on making sure the staff person is being maximized and in growing in his or her role. The church embraces this unique mission ministry, yet, the lines are clear financially. We don’t lump the specialized ministry into the structure of the church. Harvest has it’s own budget, board of directors, 501 c 3 classification.
Self Initiated Staff People Stereotypically speaking, if a person has begun a entrepreneurial ministry or is involved in some other aspect of making a living through ministry, they are self starters. This is a help for a church because much of full time ministry work requires a person to be disciplined in getting something started and keeping something going.
Preaching and Serving I am available to serve in roles such as preaching for one of the Sunday services or other special events. The light Harvest season is during the heavy church liturgical calendar. I am typically available more hours around Advent, Christmas, and Easter which allows for investment of time into special programming and worship.
Experiencing other churches and bringing ideas home. I am able to bring the ideas, thoughts and creativity that I experience from traveling to other churches back to our church to see what might work well. Others from our church join in Harvest ministry, travel to various conferences and events and then experience great hospitality and love in other congregations, thereby giving them opportunities to get visions for our church and how it could be.
BENEFITS FOR HARVEST: Harvest Ministry, which as a mission has to operate on a low overhead, is able to utilize the existing structure of the church office and staff to accomplish the work. The phone lines, copiers and other aspects to running an office are already in place. (Harvest does pay the church for copies, phone calls, etc).
Harvest has a home base for meeting with people, training team members, hosting events and conferences, etc.
We have the prayer support and connections with one congregation. They have the opportunity to join us in reaching out beyond the walls of the local congregation.
Harvest has the accountability of being connected day in and day out with a church.
PERSONAL BENEFITS I am able to experience life on the road in ministry as well as community of being in one place. Both of which I enjoy. It helps make me who I am – accountable day in and day out to one group of people who know you, but also available to serve the greater church as a whole.
My family is able to go to church together on Wednesdays and Sundays (when we are in town) and they are able to travel with me when we leave for weekend events.
I enjoy being a part of a church staff in terms of creating ministry, meeting together and thinking of ways to reach the people in this area.
My mind is always spinning with new possibilities and ideas for both Harvest ministry and the church ministry when thinking about how to reach people.
It would be easy to get a warped sense of ministry if you are always the guest worship leader / speaker – it’s almost too easy. When I am at home in church, I am part of the real life crunch that can come when you are living life in community – different ideas, ways of thinking, styles of worship, etc.
THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE? I used to think that this part-time style would be the wave of the future for church staffing. However, though I’ve seen it work on several occasions and have experienced it now for nearly 15 years, I think it’s probably not going to be huge for everyone, but for the ones whom God has called in this way. The flexibility of a local church structure allows the church to take an entrepreneurial ministry under their wing. Denominational structures may not always allow for a ministry with such ease.
Either way, I believe that if God has anointed a person with a passion for a specific ministry role, then that person needs to jump in and get it going. If a church sees a person that is moving toward that, and a the pieces line up, then make room for them. Go out on a limb. Take a risk. Set it up structurally so that you are able to call the shots and provide accountiblity, but allow for people to give it a try. Be a home base for missionaries. Have a concert artist “in residence”. Allow a counselor to set up shop. If a person is called and anointed, I think it works well.
Here are a few of the lessons I have learned: 1) I never want to get to a point of feeling the church owes me something. 2) I never want to assume I will be doing this forever. 3) I don’t want to become a historian, but a futurist – what else can be done? How else can I do it? What is God calling me to? 4) The best way to equip a church is to “not be there” at times. Sometimes, people just need a chance to take over, stand in front, lead the event. And with me gone part of the time, the risk taking opportunities for shared leadership becomes the norm and the culture.
I would love to connect with others who are in a similar situation!