I just dug out the draft for this blog post…I started it 70 days ago! And by started it, I mean I typed the title, and knew some of what I wanted to say. I was going to wax eloquent about what it is like to do double duty as the pastor for a start-up church and a freelance web designer.
This morning, I discovered that my good friend Todd Hiestand just wrote that blog post about his own life — The Rhythm of a Bi-Vocational Pastor with Three Jobs and Three Kids. Todd was doing double duty long before I was, and offered both inspiration and encouragement as I set out in this direction. His thoughts are excellent, and the payoff comes toward the end. His words echo my own:
I share this because there is a new reality for those of us who feel called to plant churches. Many students graduate from Seminary expecting to be able to get a full-time job in a church or find full-time funding to start a church plant. Sorry folks, but while those days are not gone, they are definitely changing. If you are passionate about church planting and/or starting something new, you have to be face the reality that you might have to take a different approach to supporting yourself.
Since Todd has done most of the heavy lifting, I’ll tack on a few extra thoughts, some of which I might expand on down the road…
Trying to make half of our income through freelancing has a unique set of stresses, especially because the that part of our income is inconsistent. But I love it. I love the freedom that it offers us to incubate this church community slowly, without the rush to have a model that can sustain a full pastor salary. I love that it gives me the opportunities to spend a lot of time with people who aren’t part of our church. I love the conversations I have when I tell people I work part-time as a pastor and part-time as a webdesigner. I love being able to see the tangible result of a designed webpage when our church community is much less tangible.
I am self-conscious at times…feeling like splitting my time means I’m not a ‘real’ pastor. But the truth is, I feel like what I’m doing now matters more than anything I’ve ever done. And, like Todd, I find that I often have conversations with other pastors who dream of doing a different kind of church ministry if they had the freedom and gifting to do so.
Ultimately, I know this is where I’m called to be now. In fact, I feel like I could live in this rhythm for more than the short-term. I don’t know that the 50/50 breakdown of these ‘jobs’ is the ideal split, but I see myself trying to be active in both areas indefinitely.