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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