living a double life

November 30, 2009 | 3 Comments

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.

  • Good post John. I was actually thinking about this the other day. I spent years resenting the fact that I had to be bi-vocational. It can be difficult to balance the workload between a full time job, full time ministry and a family. Last week I realized what a blessing the consulting job is. There have been times recently where the day job has brought some sanity into my life. If I did not have the consulting job I would obsess about strategy and be looking for something to put my hand to every second. The thing I have resented for a very long time has proven to be God’s kindness in providing for my family and just recently giving me something to do to keep me from being bored while we get the church plant started. He knows what we need.

  • Great post my friend. 🙂

  • Thanks for the comments Mike…I think the balancing act is worth it!

    Todd…great post indeed. 🙂