One of the main fears that people in full-time ministry face when they think about house/simple/organic church is, "How will I support my family?" I had many wonderful comments after my last post when I shared the story of the financial journey that Tony and I traveled when we came to this country. Read, and be encouraged!
I've made the transition from legacy church to simple church, and the financial transition has been frustrating and growing for me. Lots of hard, labor oriented jobs in there, and along the way, falling into advertising and marketing. I have zero previous training in this field, but being willing to stick with it, find the things inside of the field that I'm naturally good at, and accepting substantially less than premium pay for a few years has now paid off for us. I'm now blessed to be in a position in a company that I'm not professionally qualified for, other than proving myself in my work, and my wife and I are moving towards beginning our own self sustaining business built on the skills I've learned and developed. It's been completely worth it. When pre-college people who feel a call to ministry ask me about my experience and their schooling options, I encourage them to develop a marketable skill through their college experience, and seek theological training through some various other options, rather than full time Bible college or seminary, or at least get the marketable skill first, and Bible college second.
I find myself in a related but similar situation. I went in to seminary to prepare for vocational ministry. But as the Spirit has shifted my desires to organic ministry, I will retain my present employment to provide material needs while I pursue ministry service. That said, for those who are seminary trained, you DO have valuable skills that can be put to use in the workplace. As much as we like to say that church isn't business, anyone who has served in church leadership long enough has developed management skills. If you craft your resume the right way, you can seek out management work in service fields. Be blessed, pastoral brothers and sisters. God will use your skill and creativity in ways you never expect!
I am in a season of change having left a full time ministry of 13 years. The Lord has promised he would look after my family and I, so its a painful narrow path adventure he is taking me on. I am doing Spiritual Direction with some people which provides a little money but not a lot, but it is where my heart is. I now also have a job doing door to door surveying. It,s not what I have been 'trained' for, but it is training me. I have lost a lot of weight, sleep better and also I am meeting a wide cross section of people. The rich, the poor, the widow, the refugee, all sorts of people have invited me into their home. I also get paid for everything I do! and when I finish work it is finished. The contrast in my two work options provides a freshness from which I can write. Life is full, but also vibrant with creativity. I am washing ministerial tiredness and constraints right out of my hair and sending them on their way. I suppose what I am saying, I could look for the negative in the situation – walking in the rain, rejections, low pay etc or I could ask Daddy, Jesus and Spirit to help me transition. This is only for a season.
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2 replies on “Stories of financial transition to house/organic church”
Felicity, thanks for including my experience in your post. After your post last week and running across another comments discussion about a similar topic on Friday, this weekend for me was spent in much reflection regarding the choices I’ve made about being bi-vocational. Based on some comments I get pretty regularly from some people, I actually really started to doubt that road for myself; that I could be effective in ministry long term while “tent making” so to speak. I realize that I have a such wealth of training geared toward full time vocational ministry that even still I find myself occasionally without the imagination necessary to consider a different way forward. At the end of the weekend however, I really felt encouraged and prompted by the Holy Spirit that there is a way forward, that He would sustain me, and He would continue to provide the necessary imagination. I’m so convinced that Jesus is putting the church back into the hands of ordinary people; and I want to participate in that here in the trenches.
Hi Joe, thanks for sharing. I’m glad the Lord has given you clarity. I’m convinced that if we (people who have been in full time ministry) cannot demonstrate by our example that it’s possible to be effective in ministry and work in a secular environment, we cannot expect others to do the same. And so we limit considerably the possibility of any rapid multiplication of churches.
Do we need people in full time ministry? I have no doubt that we do–and more of them, but my sense is that these are the traveling apostles, the ones who are training others across a wide area. Certainly that is the experience of our friends in India who are now firmly encouraging their local church planters to go out and get jobs so the movement is not dependent on outside finances.