What is an Average Pastor?

It was nearly three years ago that I started this blog on the average pastor.  Since that time this blog has been viewed over 7,000 times and has over hundred of followers.    The response to this information has been so humbling and encouraging.  The success of this concept of the Average Pastor has proved one thing:  Average Pastors are looking for resources for the average church experience. This is why we published The Average Pastor book which is being enjoyed by pastors around the US. Here are some of the testimonies from those who have read the book:

  • “I can not put it down. I hope all of my Facebook friends that Pastor a “Small Church” buy it immediately! You will not be sorry.”
  • “The book is phenomenal and I highly encourage every medium to small church pastor to read this book. You’ll laugh, perhaps occasionally tears will well up, but ultimately you will identify with Pastor Isgrigg’s words and experiences.”
  • “Some great stuff packed into a small book – if you pastor a small or midsize church grab a copy off of Amazon today and be encouraged.”

With more and more exposure to this concept of  being an “average pastor,” some people still misunderstand why we use that label.  So as a reminder, I want to share the first chapter in the book to remind people what we are talking about. You are average, not because you are mediocre, but because your experience as a pastor of a church of under 200 is the average experience of the average pastor of the average church in America.

You Are Average

No that is not an insult. It is the data. If you are a pastor of a church of under 100 you probably feel small. The recent trend of mega-churches and multi-site churches has made you feel this way. Not to mention that all the pastors conferences are focusing on these churches. But it is not true. You and I are not small church pastors. We are Average Pastors of Average Churches.

 

What is average? When it comes to describing quality, people often think of average as being the middle of the road: not exceptional but not terrible. But in statistics, average is a statement of what is typical. It is not a value statement for quality, it is a numerical statement of quantity. Average is the number that represents the most common result of a given range of data sampled. On a bell curve, the average is where most people are. This means that the most common human experience is the average experience, not the exceptional experience.

One of the first leadership books I remember hearing about was “The Enemy Called Average.”[1] Nobody wants to be labeled as “average”, especially not pastors. Everyone of us believes that we will be the exception to the rule. We want to be the one that starts a church that grows to 10,000 people or who takes over a struggling church and builds it into a mega church. Every pastor I have ever met has always started thinking they were that person. I have come to realize that my experience as a pastor of 100 people is the rule, not the exception.

Consider the data:[2]

  • 8% of churches are 100 people or less[3]
  • 2% of churches are under 250 people
  • Average church attendance is 76 people
  • Only 2.4% of churches are over 1000 people
  • 62% of pastors of less than 100 people are full time
  • Average salary is $31,000 for FT pastor[4]
  • 72% of churches under 100 have an annual income of less than $100,000[5]

The Barna group tells us, “Despite the enormous cultural impact of mega-churches and mega-church pastors like Joel Osteen and his 40,000+ Lakewood Church, the largest group of American churchgoers attends services in a more intimate context. Almost half (46%) attend a church of 100 or fewer members. More than one-third (37%) attend a midsize church of over 100, but not larger than 499. One in 11 (9%) attends a church with between 500 and 999 attenders, and slightly fewer (8%) attend a very large church of 1,000 or more attendees.”[6]

What these stats tell us is that the pastor of a church of 100 is normal. It is average. The truth is the mega-church and the large church are both very rare. They are the exception, not the norm! Yet, have you noticed everyone expects all churches to grow to a mega-church? Have you noticed that the conference speakers are always pastors of the exception, not the norm? Have you noticed all the books written by the 2% and not the 98%? Why are so few resources available for the pastor leading a volunteer staff or the church in the rural community?

Average is the normal experience for most pastors of most churches. It is not a problem to be fixed, its normal.

If you are reading this, chances are you are an Average Pastor. Average is not a sign of poor leadership, difficult people or lack of God’s blessing. Average is the normal experience for most pastors of most churches. It is not a problem to be fixed, its normal. It certainly has challenges, that when compared to the experience of larger churches seem to be huge disadvantages. But those challenges are simply normal challenges. If we continue to compare ourselves with the exception we will always feel like a failure. But if we can compare ourselves to the normal church experience, we will see we are not failures at all. We are normal churches with normal challenges to be faced with faith and courage. You are an Average Pastor with an average size church in America. And that is OK!

 

[1] John Mason, “The Enemy Called Average” (Insight Publishing, 1990).

[2] http://www.thearda.com

[3] http://www.thearda.com/conqs/qs_295.asp

[4] “The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff” Christianity Today, 2011, p. 35.

[5] http://www.thearda.com/conqs/qs_314.asp

[6] https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016

 

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It’s Finally Here: The Average Pastor Book

20170113_113530It’s finally here. The Average Pastor Book is now available.  Inside are reflections from an average pastor of an average church.  Now pastors of churches of under 100 have a resource that addresses their unique set of challenges.  The book contains revised blog posts as well as new material to help the average pastor of the average church to embrace their calling. Thank you everyone who follows this blog and believes in this mission.  Your belief in what we are doing has made this book possible.

Buy now on Amazon

Read a sample chapter by clicking the link below.

average-pastor-sample-chapter

The Economics of the Average Church

MoneyMatters_categoryGraphicOn this blog we try to focus on the average experience for the average pastor. So much of the church world is focused on the exceptional experience of the most successful churches. Many of the experiences written in leadership books usually reflect the 5-15% of pastors who pastor churches of over 200.

One place where the experience of the average pastor is most profound is in finances.  Nothing is perhaps more of a struggle for the average church than church finances.  My experience over the past 6 years has been a good one.  It has always been a struggle but we have managed our finances well and have had very few crisis moments. For that I thank God and my leadership team that has helped me navigate that.  My church pays me a full time salary and I have several part time staff members we are able to give a small weekly salary to.  But, I know even my experience is the exception.  For many average pastors, they would love to have even my experience.

The economics of the average church are difficult considering a couple of factors:

  • The average church is America is 80 people.
  • The average giving per attendee per month is between $80-$100.
  • The average church in America can only sustain one full time salary (if they can afford it at all) and only at the attendance level of 120 are they able to hire someone to help them. For example, 60% of churches in my state are pastored by bi-vocational pastors. These churches cannot afford to pay a full time salary.
  • Churches that are under 100, if they can pay a pastor full time, usually have to devote between 45%-55% of the income to the salaries, where as larger churches can be 35%-50%.
  • Many average churches are in smaller communities that do not have professional jobs available to people. Smaller communities are only getting smaller. And small churches are only getting poorer.

The economics of the average pastor and average church presents a unique set of challenges that small churches have to face:

  • You are expected to do more with less – People visiting your church expect you to have everything a larger church has, but with only a fraction of the resources.  We simply can’t keep up.
  • The pastor is expected to be just as committed to church life, despite the fact that 60% work jobs outside the church.  There isn’t enough time in the day to be working on developing vision, programs and people like  churches that can support a full time pastor.
  • The pastor usually is dealing with the burden of both the church and their own family money pressures.  Its a double edged sword for most pastors.
  • Many of the burdens of the menial tasks and issues cannot be solved by hiring people or buying a new one of something.  That means more energy is given to keeping something going by doing it yourself or going without.

Average Finances in the Average Church

As frustrating as the above challenges are, some economic realities also come into play for the average church verses the larger church.  If the average church is 80 people and the average per capita giving is $100 per month, then your average monthly income is $8,000.

  • If you pay a pastor, its $3,000 – $4,000 per month (45%-55%).  That is about the average salary for churches that can afford a full time pastor.
  • If you have a mortgage, a good range is 30% of your income; $2,500.
  • That leaves you $1,500-$2,500 for other expenses taxes, insurance, utilities and emergencies.  There is not much room for purchases, additional staff and luxuries like advertisement, hiring people to do lawn care, etc.

However, the example given above of $100 per month per person is the exception.  $80 per month for 50-70 people might be more normal for most of the average pastors I know.

  • Total income would be $4,000-$5,600 per month
  • Pastor’s salary could only be $2,000-$2,800 per month
  • Plus a mortgage, utilities, etc.
  • It is a real challenge to have a great church that offers lots of things and does lots of ministry when you barely can make your financial obligations!

Here is the reality of the average church and economics.

If you lose a family of 4 for whatever reason (move, go to another church, etc), you stand to lose $300-$400 per month for that one family leaving.  If you lose several families in a year, you could lose up to 15-20% of your income.

  • That could mean not buying a new computer for the pastor. So he buys it himself
  • That could mean the church not paying the pastor’s medical insurance (if they are able to at all).
  • That could mean not being able to pay a part time kids pastor or worship leader.
  • That could mean not doing an outreach that would cost $300 or not spending money on an event for the church.
  • That could mean not being able to buy ink cartridges to print bulletins.
  • All of these are realities that average pastors deal with simply by losing one family.

On the flip side, if it is a church of 300 people and the average income is $24,000 per month and they lose one family ($300 pm), you may not even notice it.  It doesn’t change whether or not you pay insurance, whether you can buy printer ink, whether you can by curriculum.  In many ways, a larger church may not even notice an average family giving an average amount in an average month.

The Blessings of Average Church Finances…

Yes, there are some! Its not all bad news and difficulty for us average pastors. There are some benefits I have found for average church economics:

  1. I am forced to be creative.  I used to just buy everything. Now I think of ways to do something without the option of buying it.  For example, most of my stage designs cost less that $25 because I buy things at the dollar store or borrow them from others.  Once you get used to not buying things, you appreciate the value of creativity.
  2. I am forced to use people.  Its easier to hire someone to mow or fix plumbing  or clean the church or build something.  But when you don’t have money, you look to the people in your church to chip in.  I have found that there usually people who enjoy those small tasks that make a big difference.
  3. I appreciate what giving means.  Every dollar has a face in a small church.  I see hard working people giving because they love God.  Therefore I respect each dollar. Its precious and is a gift of worship. The fewer dollars you have, the more you appreciate the people who give them.
  4. One family can change everything.  Because losing one family affects the average church so much, gaining one family can also help so much. For us, there is a huge difference between 70 people and 90 people.  Gaining three or four families can take the stress off and allow us to do so much more. There is a lot of hope that one of two families can bring.

Selfishness and the Church Size Debate

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Last week, popular pastor and church leadership expert, Andy Stanley, made headlines over controversial comments characterizing people who like small churches as being “selfish.” During a sermon discussing the benefits of church he offered to let his listeners in on a “secret” of large churches.  His goal, he said, was to have a church big enough to have both a Jr. High and High School ministry.  The benefits of that sort of arrangement are obvious to a large church. However, what he said next got him in trouble.  He said, “If you don’t go to a church large enough to have Jr High & High School ministry…you are selfish.”

You can watch what he said here:

Andy of course apologized, to his credit.

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CT did a story about it and he explained how he doesn’t really feel this way.  Christianity Today Article

I won’t try to speak for Andy on whether or not he actually believes what he said. I can’t know his heart.  However, I am absolutely convinced that the phenomenon of the large church has created a culture that believes exactly that.  “If you go to a small church, you are robbing your family.”  We all know that is exactly what people believe and what large churches believe as well.  The irony of Andy’s comment is, you cannot say on the one hand “Circles are better than rows” and at the same time say “its better for your kids to be in a church large enough” to have everything they need to not “hate church.” If circles are better, are not small churches the BEST environment of your kids? Or is it only the amenities offered in large churches that makes kids either like or “hate” church?  I’m confused!

Andy said what the church world believes:  Bigger is by definition better.  Bigger means more people, more stuff, better quality stuff, better quality people and programs.  We have so bought into the lie that bigger is better we are even willing to guilt trip people into NOT going to an AVERAGE size church.  That somehow, if you chose a small church, you are robbing your child.  If your child hates church its because they didn’t have all the things his friends church had.  Is this what the Kingdom of God has been reduced to?  Is this the church that Jesus established?  Churches big enough to provide the best possible environment for youth to make friends and love going to church?

Nonsense.  And just plain wrong.

I am trying to think of what I can say to this phenomenon. I am at a loss.  I am just plain frustrated. Not at Andy or LifeChurch or anyone else. But at the system. Here are some questions I have been asking myself after Andy’s comments and talking to my fellow Average Pastors:

  1.  How many churches have closed because of the large church in your area is offering something better (ie. bigger)?
  2.  How many pastors of average churches are 2-3 families away from being viable, but our culture has told people they shouldn’t go to a small church because they are selfish?
  3. How many pastors, who went to a bible school or university, got credentials and have a call to minister but have no where to go because  another church plants a satellite campus and replaces a pulpit with nothing more than branch manager of a video venue?
  4. How many millions of dollars are used to build foyer areas that have a coffee shop with $30,000 wifi system, when a fraction of that could revitalize and revolutionize an average church in the community?
  5. How many of the 80% of Average pastors who pastor churches of under 150 could receive a salary for serving their church if just 20 out of Andy’s 30,000 member church would be “selfish” and chose an Average church?
  6. How many churches employ full time graphic artists, meanwhile  62% of pastors in Oklahoma are bi-vocational and have to work a second job just to provide for their families?
  7. How many young aspiring minister who in a small church could have the opportunity to be used and gain experience end up sitting as just another attender in a church staffed with “professionals”?

Is this really better?

What Andy described as his vision for the best kind of youth group is the exception, not the rule!  Andy Stanley’s church represents the reality for less than 2% of churches in America.  The church world has bought into that lie that they should be normal.  There is a place for Andy’s church.  But it is supposed to be the minority.  The AVERAGE CHURCH that he is decrying is NORMAL.  Your church, with a small youth group, a hand full of kids, no coffee shop, no HD video cameras, just small circles of people who are becoming more like Jesus, WE ARE THE CHURCH. We are Average Pastors of Average Churches.

In the past two months I have seen Average Churches I know of:

  • 6 people worked all day to put on a relationship workshop for  20 couples from the community, free of charge.
  • A church give an extra 25% of a months income to help another church in our community stay on its feet after a church split.
  • A youth group of 3 kids decide together that will raise money to send the one kid that wants to compete in a fine arts competition.
  • A church give food out to 40 needy families on a weekly basis despite not having enough income to pay the bills this month.
  • A small church full of people organize a city wide festival for its city of 3,000 people.
  • People called to serve Jesus show up week after week to teach 3 kids in a preschool class because those 3 kids are important to Jesus.
  • Pastor’s wives work child care so that the nursery workers could go to a church service.
  • Volunteer staff take elderly members to doctor’s appointments.

Don’t tell me that people who love churches like that are selfish.  Don’t tell me our children are not benefiting from that type of community and culture.  We are the unselfish ones who give our lives, sacrifice our livelihoods to make a difference in the local church.  The ones who will worship in your church this Sunday are not selfish, they are brave. They are going against the tide of our ‘bigger is better’ culture. They are choosing something that is counter to the message our culture is sending them.

This Sunday, take time to thank your people for being unselfish.  Thank them for choosing to worship with you.  Whether the church world believes it or not, you have some of the greatest people in the world that call your church home.

 

Office Hours And The Average Pastor

office-hoursIf you are an average pastor, you probably work at church by yourself most of the time. Do you keep office hours?  I do.  Most average churches have one full time pastor or less (bi-vocational pastor).  It is rare that a church of 100 people will have more than one full time staff member. I have been a solo pastor for 5 years, but I have been blessed to have at least a part time secretary in the office.  I also have a few others who are around the church a couple times a week for a few hours.  That said, most of my time in the office is by myself.  I come and go as I please without anyone really knowing the difference. I decided to keep office hours every week.  I work Monday – Thursday, 9am – 4pm.  Like clockwork, I am here every day.  I arrive on time and leave on time.  Rarely does someone come by that I haven’t already made an appointment with.  The church phone doesn’t ring often except when it is people selling something. Sometimes I wonder why I bother rushing out the door to come to an empty office.  I could just take my time and come in whenever I want.   Or I could just work from home in my pajamas.  Many pastors do work from home.  But for me, I have found that keeping office hours is good for me, good for others and its good for my family.

It is good for me:

  • I have a job to do:  When I worked on a staff, they expected me to be there because I had a job to do.  That is no less true just because I am the only FT pastor.  I have lots to do.  And I never truly realize how much I have to do until I get here and get to work.  Keeping office hours keeps me on track.
  • I feel good about myself:   In our profession, its isn’t always clear what we are accomplishing all the time.  No one has any idea what we do all day.  But I know what I did today. I showed up and worked hard, just like everyone else that attends this church.  And that makes me feel like I have accomplished alot.  I know that I earned what the church pays me to serve here.

It is good for others:

  • I do work:   It always seems to surprise people that I am “in the office.”  They know my job is not 9-5. Pastoring never is.  So they don’t always expect me to be there.  There are plenty of pastors who have abused that reality.  But knowing I am there helps demonstrate that I am doing what they brought me here to do.  There is accountability and security on both sides.
  • I am available:  It is comforting to my congregation that the understand when they can expect me to be available.  Office hours give people a reasonable time frame that they know I am available to them without feeling like they are imposing on me.  It is a gift to myself and to my congregation.

It is good for my Family:

  • Home is Home, Work is Work: Office hours send a message to my family that I have work time and home time.  Early in my pastoring, if things got busy during the week, I worked on my sermon on Saturday night.  I was not fully present with my family because I was working.  And it caused problems.  I resolved to do my work at work and have my home be my home.  Except on the rare occasions of phone calls and other times I may need to take care of things, my home is reserved for my family. (Read my post “Today I am Not A Pastor” about how I handle my day off.)
  • My kids know I go to “work” every day.  My kids know that their dad goes to work.  We talk and pray before I leave for work. It is a very comforting routine.  But, they know when my day off is.  They know on my day off I am with them.  On work days, I am at work.   It is consistent, week after week. I am showing my sons that responsibility and hard work is part of adult life.  It is a value I hope that they will emulate when they are adults.

There are days I would rather just stay later at home, drink another cup of coffee and play on the floor with my kids. But keeping office hours is vital to my success as a pastor.  It is the frame work of my life.  It keeps me in rhythm and protects my work and family.  Of course, when my time is taken from my family, I do give myself extra time at home as comp time.  I keep that in balance. But it is Monday.  It is 9:00am and I am at my desk ready to take on the challenges of a new week.

Do you keep office hours?  How does it help you?  I’d love to hear from you.

A Pastor of One

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It happened again this week.  A young couple with children came to my office looking for help with their marriage.  They are a great couple, trying to live for Jesus but just needing a little help they cannot get at church.  You see, I am not their pastor.   They have never talked to their pastor. They go to a video venue church.  They really like it, but right now, they need more than a screen.  They need to talk to a pastor.  They asked for help but their type of church doesn’t help with stuff like that. They have a church, but no pastor.

This has happened several times over the past few years.  People from larger churches have come to see me because the larger church was unable to help them personally.   When people are in crisis, they don’t need a pastor of the multitudes, they need a pastor of one.  They don’t care how many people are in the congregation. They need our one-on-one attention.  They come to me because as a pastor of an average church I have more space in my life to help people.

I don’t know what it is like to preach to thousands.  But I imagine that preaching to multitudes cannot compare to helping one on one.   In 4 simple one hour sessions, God has helped this couple to reconnect.  I may not have saved thousands this week, but God used me to save one marriage.  One family has a path forward that will make a difference for the children who will grow up with both parents. That opportunity would not be available to me in a large church.

Perhaps this family will decide to let me be the pastor of the rest of their life.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me if they do or don’t.  I am called to pastor people even if its just one.

 

They Always Come…And They Always Leave

Hello-Goodbye-Doormat1I love it when a new family visits our church.  It is exciting, isn’t it?   I am not totally sure what our retention rate is, but we seem to have one or two people or families visit every month. Sometimes they stay.  In 2014 we had 8 families/individuals come but we also had 7 families/individuals leave.   It is wonderful when people come.  It is not so wonderful when they leave.  We all have experienced that. It stinks!   Sometimes its for good reasons. Sometimes it’s not.  Pastor Josh Mauney has a great post  about how we feel when people leave.  You should read it here: The Most Honest Post I Know How to Write

For an average church, having one family join could represent a 5% increase in your church’s membership.  If you add two or three families your church has the potential for 10-15% growth in one year.  That is the power and impact of each and every family. Our church lost 3 families in October.  That was 16 total people, nearly 15% of our church gone in one month. That is hard to deal with. These were highly involved and faithful people. Two moved for jobs and one was just ready to move on.  We loved all three.  I hate that they are gone. But my experience tells me that others will come.  They always come…and they always leave. That is just how it works.

Our Average Church has been slowly growing over the past 4 years. In October of 2010, we had 39 families or individuals that called our church home for a total of 94 people.  Four years later we have 51 families/individuals that call our church home for a total of 110 people.  We have slowly added families and individuals. But we have also lost families and individuals.  In fact, from 2010-2014, we have only 17 families (43%) who have made it with us these past 4 years.  The ones we started with account for only 33% of our current congregation right now.  Were I to study it more closely, my guess is we probably turn over a third of our congregation every year or so. That is tough on us Average Pastors.  Just when we gain momentum, one family leaves and it takes it all away.

As I have tried to deal with this reality I have learned a few thoughts that make it easier:

  • Every family matters–  I had to realize that at some point that family chose to come here and contributed at some level. They are part of our story. They are important and I need to be thankful for them.
  • They came from somewhere – We have had some wonderful people come. We have had wonderful people go.  Every time I have to remind myself and our leadership team, they came from somewhere. They left another church and pastor who probably grieved when they left.   We cannot praise God when a family comes and be mad when they leave.  We need to rejoice in both.
  • They are His people, not ours –  We don’t own people.  I realized that most people these days only come to us for a season.  We are stewards while they are here.  Cherish and appreciate them. And when they leave, graciously turn them loose.
  • They all will leave – Gone are the days when church members are born in a church and die there.  They all will leave.  You will too one day!  Every pastor, staff member and church member will leave the church they are at.  Be gracious with those who leave.  Love them and celebrate them.

We have had many wonderful families come and go in the past 4 years.  Some were only here for a season. Some moved away. Some just didn’t want to be at a small church anymore.  I have learned to roll with the ebb and flow of families coming and going.   I learned to rejoice when they came.  And now I am able to rejoice when they leave.  I still grieve, but I can do it with thankfulness. Because in the end, they always come…and they will always leave.

Average Churches = Lots of Ministry, Few Jobs

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Average pastors many times are trying to run a church by themselves. We need help. Lots of help.  I have been fortunate to have had people come to my church who have had experience in ministry or have credentials who were not currently in ministry.  They all had one thing in common: They had a regular job, but wanted to be in ministry.  I have been blessed to use many of them in areas of ministry that we needed them for.  But in four years of leading my church, I have not been able to give any of them a ministry job.  I want to, but I can’t.  Our church can only support one salary.  Yet there is so much ministry needed in our church.

This is the great dilemma for the average pastor.   We are overburdened with roles and responsibilities that hinder our effectiveness.  We need the help of lay people and experienced ministers for our churches to be effective.  Some churches have no one to help besides lay people. I have known churches that would love to even just have one experienced person to fill in when the pastor needs a break.  Yet there are experienced pastors sitting in congregations all over you town. They are waiting for ministry jobs.

The average church is great place for people who want to do ministry even if there is no job for them.  Retired pastors, we need your experience.  You can help with the operations and use your skill with the older generation, a vital role in this modern church era.  You have a great role to play as a cheer leader for your church’s future.  In-between ministers, you can serve with your skills in small ways that bring fullness to your church.  Even if it is just doing communion or teaching a class, you bring strength to the leadership team and your unique gifts.  Young ministers can find a place to start out where the stakes are not so high.  Smaller churches give you the opportunity to serve without the pressure to perform.  You can learn and grow with your congregation.

This is the reality of the average church. There is lots of ministry, but very few jobs. We need help. But we haven’t grown to the place to be able to afford help.  Although I have had experienced men and women who have been able to contribute, I have wished for the opportunity to be able to share ministry with them on a day-to-day basis.  But I have no jobs to give them.

If you are in this situation (and I am sure you are) here are some realities I have come to grips with:

  • We are not large enough to provide ministry jobs.  If your church is around 100 people, it is unreasonable to have more than one paid pastor.  Its hard enough to pay the pastor.  That is just the reality.  I can be frustrated about it or change my expectations for my reality.
  • We can give ministry opportunities that big churches can’t.  In churches of multiple staff, the opportunities for non-paid ministers to contribute is minimal.  Usually people with pastoral experience end up just being attenders.  In my church, if they have something to contribute that we need, I can use them.  Even if it isn’t a job.  All of my staff are basically volunteers who serve outside their 40 hour a week jobs.
  • We can give ministers a refreshing break.  When people with ministry experience come to my church, it is always for a season.  We are either helping them heal, giving them space for normalcy, or helping them find new callings.  The average church can be a great place for ministers to contribute in the in-between seasons.
  • We can give young inexperienced leaders a place to start.  With part-time or volunteer ministry, you can give people opportunities lead that larger churches cannot.  I have had two first time worship leaders, one first time youth pastor, and one first time children’s pastor. All this was made possible because we are small enough to use someone without investing a salary in them. We are raising up new leaders.

For those reading this who may be out of ministry for a season, here is some thoughts for you.

  • Don’t be afraid to serve part-time.  You have gifts we need.  We can’t pay you, but it is a win-win. We need your gifts, you need the ministry outlet.
  • Don’t wait for a job to do ministry.  Find something you can do even if it isn’t exactly what you are best at.  I admire ministers who love the church enough to do the things they ask the people they pastor to do.  I need help with little things and big things. And they all matter.  You can help.
  • God has a plan for you.  Don’t be afraid to go to a smaller church to serve. God knows where you are.  There is nothing that says you are more or less likely to get a job based on the size of church you volunteer at.  He will open the door for you for the next assignment.

One final thing I have learned.  It is not my job to make people’s dreams come true.  Pastor, relieve yourself of the responsibility of making things happen for the called people around you.  I would love to give everyone a job or a title that feels called to ministry in my church.  But that is not my job. My job is to lead my church and ask, “God, why have you given me this person for this time.” Match your needs with the people he has given you to the best of your ability. That is all He asks of you.