Thursday Thought – Part-time Ministry

5 03 2009

This Thursday, I’m sharing some of my own thoughts and looking for some of yours.

I’m thinking about the concept of “Part-time Ministry”. That is, being trained in and involved in pastoral ministry for a few days a week whilst supporting yourself financially with secular work on the other days.

On the one hand, this seems like a great idea. Many ministry minded lay people already spend a large chunk of their free time in ministry work. Going part time would only increase this opportunity. Also, being self supporting would mean these ministers would not be a burden on a church and would have an extra level of flexibility relative to someone employed by the church. It would mean that they could maintain relationships with people who don’t know Jesus in the work-force and have excellent opportunities to tell people the gospel within their paid work.

It also could provide a perfect entry point to someone who is contemplating committing their lives to full-time ministry, but who doesn’t feel entirely ready to take the plunge and cut all ties with their work.

On the other hand, why bother? Living in Sydney we have a great opportunity for ministers to be fully employed in ministry whilst still earning a good wage. If ministry is so important then really, shouldn’t you be devoting ALL your time to it? And anyone who has tried to balance multiple part-time activities would tell you that it’s incredibly difficult to leave one behind when you try to work on the other. There are people here at my work who only work 3 days a week, only get paid for 3 days a week, but are sometimes in here for 5!

Maybe this whole part-time thing is just an excuse to try and keep a foot in both camps? Perhaps it just shows a lack of courage to commit yourself to full-time ministry? (Don’t necessarily believe that – just arguing it!) Having a part-time person on a ministry team could be a worry. How do you know they are not going to ring up tomorrow and say “can’t come in – somethings come up at my ‘real’ job”? Will they really be committed if it’s not their whole life aim to build up a church?

On balance, there may be room in Sydney for just this sort of ministry opportunity. Maybe even as a short term thing before eventually committing to full-time work or ministry. I think it has some potential. But the feeling that I get is that it’s not encouraged. Am I right? Is this seen as a bad idea? Is it more than just the things I’ve listed above?

What do you think? Is this a wonderful opportunity that could greatly expand the harvest? Or is it a selfish attempt for someone to have the best of both worlds? Or something else?

Advertisements