I Don’t Know if I Want My Church Staff Freelancing

Side Hustles. Should your staff have one? How should you feel about this?
March 29, 2022
I Don’t Know if I Want My Church Staff Freelancing

This is an honest confession of many in Church leadership and we understand why.

Increasingly, people in all industries are taking up the "side hustle." Whether it be an accountant doing a friend’s taxes on the side or the sale of tiny crocheted Star Wars characters on Etsy, hearing that someone makes extra money in the gig economy is now commonplace. However, we understand why Churches are hesitant to have their staff engaging in work for other Churches.

Churches are called to steward their flock and their resources. When Churches bring on a paid staff member, they are using the financial resources of the Church to do so and want to ensure that they receive the services due the Church in exchange. That sounds like a business arrangement because it is. Running a Church is often like running a business. We are called by God to be responsible managers of what we are given.

That being said, there is a lot we could learn from the business community. Here are some basic business principles that would set up the Church to use freelancers in ministry while allowing staff to engage in freelance ministry themselves.

1. Make the deliverables and expectations more tangible.
It is difficult to measure success in any given position if there are no benchmarks. When there are concrete expectations in place, everyone has an objective measure of whether or not the job is getting done.

Quantify expectations. If those expectations are being met to everyone’s satisfaction while the staff member is doing freelance work, then everyone is happy. If not, then you have concrete concerns. This is true not just of freelance work, but of any area of life which may interfere with a staff member’s ability to do their work and their general well-being as a person.

2. Define the Church’s vision and mission.
In addition to defining what you want, define where you are going. Build it and they will come. Ok, that’s Field of Dreams, folks, not the Bible, but it’s still true. Most of us are in ministry because we want to see lives transformed for Christ and, while we see a lot of that, we also see a lot of hardship.

Some ministry calendars have several services or classes each week. Right now, many Churches are in digital hibernation due to COVID-19, but there are still people to be pastored and social media videos to be rendered. Bearing the burdens of others can be emotionally draining. Ministry work is not “easy” or tangibly rewarding a lot of the time. There are a million reasons why ministry is difficult and One overarching reason why we continue doing it.

However, knowing that the leadership at the helm has a purpose and wants to involve you in the plan makes ministry work easier to invest in. Tell your team where you want to go. Show them that they are a part of your vision and give them somewhere to plant themselves. We are far less likely to lose focus when we are motivated by the road ahead.

3. Appreciate and reward your team.
Most Churches have a hard-working staff. Everyone, from the Pastor to the grounds keeper, is working at full capacity. And, let’s face it, most members of Church leadership are not in ministry for the money.

Biblically speaking, we are not to serve the Church in search of praise or accolades from men. However, there is no law against showing gratitude or honor to those around us. There’s nothing like a heartfelt "thank you" to revitalize your team, from the volunteers in the children’s ministry to the usher with the silly ties. Find creative ways in your ministry to show your congregation how much you value them.

4. Lead by example.
This is true in every aspect of Pastoral leadership. The Pastor creates, defines and embodies the culture of his Church, whether he wants to or not. He is the public figurehead of the local body of Christ. It is a burden and a blessing.

The basic tenets of each Church are handed down directly from the Scriptures. The way it feels to be a staff member or congregant in the Church is a direct reflection of the Pastor and those he sets in charge of his flock. Different Churches have different atmospheres. Just as Christ is the head of the Church and man is the head of his household, so Pastors are the heads of their communities. They set the tone. Use your influence to model the conduct and character you wish to see in your team.

5. Talk to your team.
Whether this is done individually or in a group setting, it is crucial that a Pastor know his flock. If the worship leader is writing songs to record her own album in the next year, you should know about that. If the bookkeeper is concerned about making ends meet after the birth of his second child, you should know about that. Communicate to your team that you care about their lives and are open to helping them work through their struggles. Keep your door open to conversation. Check in often. When they come to you with a problem, do your best to help them solve it.

Billy Graham said, “Churchgoers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out.” This is the call of Churches and leadership. Together we stand; divided we fall. When we support each other to do the work of the Kingdom, the body of Christ is advanced.

It is our hope that Share will not create division between Church leadership and ministry workers, but that it will knit congregations together across cities, countries and continents. We want Churches to develop deeper, more extensive roots together. As a whole, we want the Church to move boldly forward more united than ever before. That is the future we are investing in. We want to see the vibrant, unified, dynamic Bride of Christ preparing the Kingdom for His coming.