Free Range Priest is about Making Ministry Sustainable - for today's clergy, congregations, and beyond.
These are the 10 Key Concepts for reimagining church in the 21st century.
In an era when anyone can become 'ordained' by filling out a form on the Internet, it is crucial to define our vocation as Christian clergy. In a time when congregational clergy do 'everything', it is important to set boundaries around what is and is not our work.
When clergy serve without being paid, it devalues our work and makes it even more difficult for those who need to support ourselves and our families to do so. The spiritual work of clergy is priceless, which is precisely why we need compensation. If some serve without payment, eventually all will, and this could lead to the demise of ordained clergy service.
We often use the term 'bi-vocational' to mean 'you are not getting paid for your ministry.' Some are truly called to bi-vocational work - serving two callings simultaneously. Clergy should not be forced into this situation because they must work a secular job to support their ordained ministry.
Most people are in church on Sundays only. Serving every Sunday supports the idea that clergy are always available. Part-time clergy should serve no more than 2 Sundays a month. This encourages lay ministry, sets reasonable work expectations and boundaries, and allows clergy to serve more than one part-time call without exhaustion.
Hourly pay supports clergy work for specific tasks, and properly values what ordained ministry brings to the church and the world. It also allows congregations (and others) to pay for only the ministry they need. This is especially important for congregations unable to afford even very part-time professional salaries, and the clergy who serve them, and it avoids trying to figure out what '1/8th time' means!
It is crucial that we recognize how the church is functioning at this moment. So often we are looking back at what we once were, or ahead to what we could be. Adjusting our vision to our current strengths and challenges supports our mission - as clergy, congregations, and all Christian ministers.
77% of Americans are online for at least 30 minutes every day, and a quarter of us say we are 'constantly' online! It is no longer possible to effectively serve as ordained clergy without at least some of our ministry being online. Investing in simple technology skills, equipment, and infrastructure is just as essential as basic theology and Scripture study. Be not afraid!
Clergy can serve one vocation as multiple jobs: part-time in more than one congregation; congregational and digital ministry, etc. Claiming our ministry as a unified whole made up of parts allows us to clarify the gifts we bring and the people we serve. It can also allow us full-time status in terms of pension, healthcare, and other benefits.
75% of Americans in their 20s do not attend church of any kind. Only 40% of any age attends 'regularly' - 1 Sunday a month (according to Pew research). A significant portion of our ministry - clergy, congregation, any disciple - must be focused on evangelism, in a world that needs it in so many ways.
When we spend most of our time, energy, and resources on keeping the institutional church structure in 'maintenance mode' (barely), we are taking away from our imperative to reach out to those who have not yet heard GOOD NEWS. It's time to change the process!
We are all on the same team! Yes, denominations and traditions have different worship styles, oversight rules, and theological viewpoints. Organizationally and evangelically, though, we are exactly alike - facing the same challenges in terms of sustaining congregations, and sharing the faith more broadly.
We can - and should! - actively support each other in this, across denominational boundaries, learning new ways to serve others in ministry, and new ways to share God's love with our neighbors. Denominations and congregations are not in competition with each other for members - we are working side-by-side in the mission field.
Free Range Priest offers individual coaching and consulting for the challenges YOU face in the 21st century church and world. Find out how to Make Ministry Sustainable. The initial call is FREE.
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I was ordained in the Episcopal Church almost 20 years ago, after attending seminary in New York City. I was raised Roman Catholic, but changed denominations when I found Episcopal faith practices to be so much like those I learned from the Jesuits in my undergraduate days.
I loved it! And I loved the people with whom I served. After that, I had the privilege of serving for 5 years on the staff of the then-Bishop of North Carolina (you might have heard of him!), doing congregational development and clergy support. I started to see how the issues are the same everywhere, for everyone - how lots of clergy and congregations are struggling.
Every day, I learn new ways to help others bring Good News to the world in the most effective, sustainable ways.
About sharing the Good News of the love of God with MORE people, in MORE places! Send me a message with your comment or question, or to request some time for a FREE intial call.
Click HERE to schedule.
The church is changing.
Membership is declining. Resources are not as plentiful. Many clergy and congregations struggle with issues of how to keep everything thriving in the institutional church model.
But we ARE in the resurrection business!
You know that there are new ways to think about how to bear the Scripture, sacraments, and traditions of the Christian faith into the world, and into the church.
You know there are ways to support small congregations as they are and still serve in ministry in ways that pay the bills.
You just don't know what that looks like ... YET!
The world is changing.
Digital Ministry is a viable way to reach new people with the Gospel, and to enhance the in-person ministry you do with congregations and other communities.
But there are few resources!
There is LOTS of new technology and social media, and platforms and skills change rapidly.
It can be hard to get a handle on what we need for ministry, and how to utilize the entrepreneurial and digital opportunities available today for the sake of the church.
You just don't have a roadmap ... YET!
I spent a decade serving in congregational ministry, and another 5 years as an 'in-house' church consultant and clergy coach.
I have worked with hundreds of ministers - lay and ordained - and I understand the pressures of the changing institutional church structure, AND the challenges of finding our way in the digital world.
You need a friend and a guide!
In 2016 I quit my full-time position on a regional denominational staff because I saw SO many clergy and congregations struggle to keep doing things the way we have always done them, only to find it keeps getting harder to do that.
And because it seemed like no one was writing the roadmap of how to find new ways of serving in modern ministry.
I was wrong about that - LOTS of creative ministers are out there every day, connecting others with the love of God in faithful, life-changing ways, but I didn't know that then.
NOW I know that we CAN reimagine our own ministry in sustainable, engaging, enlivening ways, supporting both traditional congregations and brand new ways of being faith community.
With a Free Range Priest Creative Ministry Roadmap, you will get the framework you need to envision YOUR next steps for sharing GOOD NEWS.
"Last year I made the leap to leave a full-time parish position after years of feeling called to birth a holistic wellness ministry.
Cathie was such an inspiration in my discernment ... She gave me both practical and soulful advice. She never said the journey would be easy or secure, but it was evident by her passion that it would be worth it ...
After 12 months of developing my ministry, I am excited to be starting a new call as the Residential Host and Chaplain at the Bishop's Ranch Retreat and Conference Center. In my new role, I will get to pastor the chapel community while also hosting retreats and nurturing the wider retreat community.
Working with Cathie has helped me realize there are so many ways that priests can structure and sustain their ministry. I am excited for my next chapter, and I am so grateful for Cathie's coaching and support."
"A year ago, I sat across from Cathie at a coffee shop in rural North Carolina.
I was at a crossroads, having left a full-time parish position and trying to figure out what it would look like to live into my dream call of creative and collaborative ministry.
I am grateful to Cathie for seeing my call, for helping me claim it, and for gathering a group of strong and creative priests to walk this way together.
In that year, I created and released a film for evangelism and formation, developed and led a series of retreats and online courses, and laid the groundwork to build a missional space for other creatives based out of Philadelphia.
I proudly wear the badge of Free Range Priest."
There has never been a better time to be in creative ministry.
Most people are NOT in church!
Most congregations cannot afford full-time salaried clergy.
You can step out into digital ministry and expand what brings you - and others - joy!
Many people are waiting to hear GOOD NEWS.
YOU are called to share God's love, and the Christian faith inside - and beyond - the walls of the church.
NOW is the time to find out how.
Free Range Priest is helping clergy and congregations navigate the 21st century church and world.
Bring your ministry into the digital age, and get paid in ways that are sustainable for ordained clergy and the small congregations they serve.
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Free Range Priest is a call for the church to embrace new structures without losing the heart of our ministry - to explore creative ways of connecting clergy with congregations that can bring life and energy to the Jesus Movement."
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