The Clock Is Ticking

I have a friend for whom the clock is ticking at her current job. Her position is transitioning to part-time in less than a month, and she is urgently looking for another full time gig someplace else. She’s 15 years into this gig.

I feel like the clock is ticking for all of us. I know teachers who find out in May whether they’ll have a job come September. I know architects moonlighting as Uber drivers because projects have dried up. It’s not about the particular circumstances of this or that job, but about a large shift taking place in the nature of work itself wherein a “job” is not going to provide the stability it once did. That includes church jobs.

In the church we talk about “tent-making” and “bi-vocational” pastors, those in our profession who aren’t drawing a full-time salary from a congregation but who have a non-church profession that allows them serve the church part-time. The problem with that arrangement is that, while the church job description may be “part-time,” the work rarely is. Ministry has a sneaky way of claiming all of you.

I don’t think bi-vocational is the next paradigm for the church to pursue. Instead, I’m wondering more and more if the pattern of freelance work can’t help both pastors and churches in this era. Even those of us in full-time installed calls will benefit from the ownership and urgency demanded of freelance work, the need to always be hustling and creating new work that meets real needs and adds real value.

I guess I’m wondering about the relative importance of the work of pastoral ministry compared to the role. Secure roles are disappearing from work life everywhere, and I don’t think the church will (or should) be immune from that change.