Many churches have part-time ministers, and it would be silly of us to think there aren’t some real challenges in doing ministry part time. You might have another job you love and be bi-vocational, or maybe your church simply can’t afford to hire you full time, or any number of reasons you might be part time. So this month we are looking at that aspect of youth ministry. Today we will begin with….
“What do you wish church members understood about being a part time minister?”
Rev. Sarah Boberg is the Minister of Youth and Children at First Baptist Church in Red Springs where she serves with husband and Pastor, Rev. Bradley Boberg. She is the mother of a 3 year old daughter, Scarlet, who is red-headed and full of personality! Sarah is a graduate of Campbell University with a B.A. in Religion and Christian Ministries and a graduate of Campbell University Divinity School with a M.Div. She is currently working on her Ph.D in Educational Studies at UNCG. She is working hard to complete her dissertation focused on the call experiences of Baptist women in ministry. In her free time – let’s get real as a minister, preacher’s wife, mother, and student she has very little of that – but she does enjoy reading, writing, and dancing when she gets a chance!
I am technically a “part-time” minister. This means I get paid for the 25 hours I am required to work as written in my job description. What I would like church members to understand is that there may be part-time positions but there is no such thing as part-time ministry.
Ministry is not a 9am to 5pm kind of career. Ministry is an on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week career. Part-time ministers do not stop working when the required number of hours are completed for a particular week. Part-time ministers do not get to (or even want to) miss a ball-game on Friday night because they have worked their time that week. Part-time ministers do not get to (or want to) not show up to the hospital or to the home of someone in need because it is Saturday and that is one of their days off. Ministry is a lifestyle. It is not just another job. Ministry is a part of everything ministers do, think, and feel. Ministry is not something I put on and take off during the appropriate times. Ministry is how I live and interact with others, the world, and God.
Ministry is not just a job, it is a calling. We ministers do not just “do” this work because we need to pay our bills. We minister because we are compelled to do so. We minister because God has asked us to. We minister because we feel led by God to lead a certain ministry in a certain time and in a certain place. We minister because we have to. We minister because our souls and hearts are invested in the lives and places God has called us. Ministry is a calling. Ministry is part of who we are and what we were created to be. We did not chose this path, it was chosen for us.
Because ministry is not a “normal” job, part-time ministers often struggle with finding and committing to other part-time jobs. As a part-time minister I have had other part-time jobs to help supplement my income. This has been extremely difficult, because my first priority is my calling to ministry. When a crisis comes up it can be hard or even impossible to leave another job to fulfill to duties of ministry. Because of this part-time ministers are more often than not, broke. We like others who work part-time struggle with finances. We struggle with living up to the lifestyles of our congregants because our incomes do not live-up to most of theirs. But most of us would rather struggle and make it in ministry than image a life without our particular service to God.
Part-time ministry, like all ministry is one of the most challenging and most rewarding careers. Ministry is hard. All ministers need encouragement from those around them. Church members, please do not assume we know we are doing a good job, tell us. Never assume we can do it alone, help us! Ministry is difficult. Ministers walk through tragedy and crisis with so many. All ministers need kind words and encouragement. One the other side of the difficulties embodied by ministry are the triumphs. Ministry is exciting because ministers get to share in some of the highlights of people’s lives: births, baptisms, graduations, awards days, victories, weddings, milestones, birthdays, and the list goes on. Ministry is challenging, but rewarding. All of the struggle is worth it to see one person come to Christ or grow closer to God.
Church members need to know part-time ministers are people. We have limits. We have feelings. We have lives. Church members need to understand the complexities of doing ministry as a career. Church members need to understand there is no such thing as part-time ministry, ministry is a calling from God, ministry is often a risk when it comes to finances, and ministers need encouragement. I encourage all church members to go talk to their ministers (part-time or full-time). Ask your ministers what they want you to know. Our doors are almost always open. Come, our hearts and minds are open to sharing our lives with you. Get to know us as people, children of God, not just as paid employees. At the end of the day we are no different than any who sit in the pews, we are all believers in Christ who strive to follow God’s will for our lives. We all struggle. We all fail. We all are doing the best we can to become better disciples of Christ. We are all broken, forgiven, loved, and called.