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?

Church Planting Entrepreneurs

18 09 2008

As mentioned in my previous post, the MTS Challenge Conference had a session run by Phillip Jensen on “Church Planting Entrepreneurs”. Church planting is a bit of a hot topic since Driscoll has been in town, and Reimer asked me to give a little bit more info.

Below are my summarised notes:

First point – a church planter leads a church – therefore he must be a man and be a biblical leader.


  1. What is church? A gathering of God’s people to hear the word of God
  2. Why church planting? We need more churches and new churches if we are going to fit in all the people we plan to evangelise. New, small churches are the best way forward. We need big churches, but we need MORE churches.
  3. What is an entrepreneur? A risk-taker who starts up and runs a new business. Start with yourself, read a bible with a few others, start a bible study, grow to a small church service. Starting with 50 people from another congregation is NOT entrepreneurial church planting. It is stealing other churches members.
  4. Where do I get the money from? You work! Make tents! If you are starting small, you don’t need to be full-time at first. Build-up.
  5. How do I know if I am an entrepreneur? Do you take initiative? Do you start things? Are you willing to have a go? Are you afraid to fail? Flexible? Risk taker? Are you wealing to sacrifice and scavenge to make it work? If you spend all your time asking, “how do I do this?” or “we don’t have enough resources for this” then chances are you’re not an entrepreneur.
  6. Am I allowed to plant a church? Entrepreneurs don’t ask this question! Just do it!
  7. A point – Entrepreneurial Church Planters need to be Heightened Evangelistic Tentmakers. We have enough churches for the people who are already Christian! We need to get out in the pagan mission field.
  8. Denominated or Independent? Denominated – there are benefits that outweigh the costs. For instance, when you are gone, how do you find the next minister? Who owns any property the church acquires, continuation, etc. Which denomination? Doesn’t matter! Phillip can introduce you to all the relevant people!
  9. Are you going to pastor this congregation, or are you going to be a church planter? It’s one or the other. Will you move on in 5 years and start again. An effective church planter could plant a dozen churches in their lifetime.

Start now! Be a missionary in your local area. Tell people the gospel! Do it with MTS and you can make sure you do it properly. Go see Phillip and he will get you started!

What do you think?

MTS Challenge Conference

17 09 2008

Last weekend, I attended the MTS Challenge Conference at Stanwell Tops.

It was a great weekend. Pretty intense with some great bible teaching and plenty of good fellowship.

I ordered the talks ($35!?!?!) but they haven’t arrived yet, so I will give you my highlights/key points from my notes:

  • Ben Pfahlert – I only heard one of his, but I took away the 3 C’s of envangelism – Conviction, Competency and Courage. Courage involves being willing to be uncomfortable.
  • Phillip Jensen – he preaches clearly and powerfully. There is something about old people that gives them credibility! He spoke from Psalms and Ecclesiastes on the reality of death and the justice of God and gave a seminar on Entrepreneurial Church Planting.
  • My elective was “tent-making” (ie. self-funded ministry). There was some dispute as to what tent-making actually is and what are good reasons for working and doing ministry at the same time. After all, Paul only did this temporarily. Phillip Jensen made mention to it in his church-planting piece. I’m still unsure…
  • Strand groups were… disappointing.
  • We were scheduled to have an interview with a minister who could discuss with us our thoughts on ministry. I got Mike E – someone with whom I’ve had the same conversation many times!

Overall, a good weekend. It wasn’t all about MTS. It took into account the Driscoll-factor. There was solid bible-teaching. God was glorified. And how good was the weather on Saturday??!?