7 Ways Pastors Can Work Location Independent

more than a pastor show Dec 09, 2020
7 pastor jobs that are location independent

Location independence is a growing trend for people - especially millennials - who want to live and work from anywhere. But it's not for every job, employer, or employee. Is it possible for pastors to work location independent? 

On today's show we'll talk about location independence - what it is - and I'll share 7 ways that pastors can work location independent.

I’ll also share a quotation for the day, a free resource to help you find the clarity and confidence you need to go after your greatest calling, and some Q&A. That’s all coming up on today’s episode of the More than a Pastor show.

Before we dive in... 

Finally Find the Clarity You're Looking For

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Q&A with Rich Avery - My Dream of Location Independence

Here on the More Than a Pastor Show, I’d love to answer questions submitted by you, the listener, but since the podcast is still new, I’m taking the time to introduce myself so you can get to know me a little more with each episode.

At the beginning of the show, Mr. Announcer said that I’ve Always dreamed of living near the ocean in San Diego or Miami Beach…

Today I’ll share why that is...and how it has to do with our topic today on 7 ways that pastors can be location independent.

I've lived in Michigan all my life, and I enjoy the winter season and snow on the ground until Christmas...maybe New Year's. But then I'm done with winter. I'm growing tired of the cold, snow, the bone-chilling polar vortexes, and the lack of sunshine that our winters bring.

Thankfully I travel 8-10 weeks a year to lead missions trips or to provide coaching and care for our church's missionary family spread all over the world. And I really do enjoy the fact that I get to enjoy sun and warmth on those trips during the winter. In fact, I joke that if I plan my trips just right, I can keep my tan going year round.

But I'd really love to live somewhere where I can enjoy the sun and warmth all the time without having to travel for it.

And I enjoy being close to Lake Michigan - it's a 30-minute drive from where I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I really enjoy connecting with God near the water - whether I'm just sitting on the beach or maybe hiking in the dunes.

But there's something that draws me to the ocean. As immense as Lake Michigan is, the ocean is so much more.

I've traveled to San Diego and LA many times for conferences and events, and I really love how the ocean and the mountains are right there to be enjoyed any time. And I've often dreamed of living in San Diego within walking distance of the ocean one day.

But I also enjoy Florida and have been to Miami Beach many times - for cruises with my family and other vacations - and I feel a draw there too. I love the Art Deco architecture, the Latin Culture, the food, music, everything. I also appreciate the international feel of Miami Beach - you have the Jewish people from Brooklyn, French speaking Canadians from Quebec, Russians, and of course Cubans, Brazilians, and more.

In 2019 my church blessed me and my family with a sabbatical. I'm so glad it was planned for 2019 and not 2020! My wife and I took a cruise out of Miami, and we enjoyed a day in Miami Beach before we departed. Then I stayed in Miami Beach an extra week following the cruise, and just enjoyed reading and relaxing on the beach, and soaking up the local culture.

I've often dreamed of retiring in San Diego or Miami one day, but after my Sabbatical I began to ask myself, “Rich, why wait until I’m retired to live where I’d love to live?  What if I could find a way to do pastoral ministry from wherever I wanted to live now?"

You're probably thinking, "Well that’s easy enough, right? Just do a little online research for pastor jobs in Florida or San Diego or wherever you want to live. Plenty of pastors do that."

And that's true. But that’s more like relocation than being location independent. And location independence is really what I’m after.

So what is location independence? And is it really possible for a pastor to work location-independent?  More on that in just a moment...

Quotation of the Day: Dan Miller

Our quotation of the day is from my friend Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, who asks a question that changes everything:

“What does this now make possible?”

I’ve shared before that I’m in Dan’s 48 Days Eagles community. It’s an incredible resource where we get coaching from Dan and tons of other great experts on all sorts of topics to help people create the work and life they’ll love.

In fact, that cruise my wife and I took in 2019 for my sabbatical...we were with Dan and Joanne Miller and several other members of the 48 Days community. I'll share more about that amazing experience some time.

But I just love this quote from Dan, because it helps us to get on the solution side of any problem or challenge. Because when bad things happen, our world gets turned upside down, people are told not to come to church, people are afraid to leave their homes, workplaces have to close, etc. etc. we can become fearful and worried about what we are losing when those things happen.

And sometimes we don’t realize that with every loss, there’s a gain.

And we can now ask ourselves...what does this now make possible? People can’t come to church in our building...what does this now make possible? People can’t come to work in the our building...what does this now make possible? The giving of tithes and offerings are on the decline, what does this now make possible? I’m not sure if our church can continue to afford to pay me or some other staff...what does this now make possible?

Just asking this simple question can open ourselves up to creative thinking which can yield amazing possibilities.

And location independence is one of those possibilities which is becoming a reality for many people right now. 

So today I want to talk about what location independence is, and explore 7 ways that pastors could have ministries that are location independent

What is Location Independence? 

On today’s show we’re talking about Location Independence. It’s a growing trend for people - especially millennials - working in the corporate world.

And thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020, and the fact that so many offices and workplaces have been shut down and more people are working from home, they’re realizing that they can work from home from anywhere. 

So, what is location independence?

Location independence is a lifestyle of not being tied to a particular geographical location. It’s having the freedom to live and work wherever you want. 

Most people in the US - pastors included - find ourselves tied to a certain geographical location, wouldn’t you agree?

I think there are basically two reasons for that:

  1. The biggest reason people are tied to a certain geographical area is their job. That’s traditionally been true of most pastors who minister in a particular community context. But the church does have a history of circuit riding preachers like John Wesley, and missionaries like the Apostle Paul, who regularly ministered outside of their geographical community context.
  2. Second reason is family. We often want to stay close to our kids, parents, and extended family relationships. That’s a value my wife certainly expresses whenever I dream of living somewhere else. But I say they can come and see us whenever they want...or maybe they’ll relocate too.

But what if your work wasn’t tied to where you lived? And your family situation doesn’t factor into where you live? Then maybe location independence is possible for you.

It’s definitely becoming more of a thing these days. And certain jobs or industries are more conducive to it than others. 

For example, if you work in IT as a web designer or coder, like one of my sons does, it may not matter at all where you work. You can do it from virtually anywhere. Or is it that you can do it virtually...from anywhere?

But be a location independent pastor? What does that even look like?

The Location Independent Pastor

Let me describe a Location Independent Pastor in two ways:

  1. First and most obvious, a Location Independent Pastor is someone whose ministry does not depend on a particular location. Such a person can serve almost anywhere they like. 
  2. Second, a Location Independent Pastor can be someone who may have a fixed location for their ministry but the ministry can operate successfully without the person’s physical presence in the office. 

Either way, the location independent pastor does not need to be physically tied to a particular location to work and earn a living. He or she is free to move from one place to another.

So do you think it’s possible for a pastor to be location independent? Or do we need to minister in the community where we’re located?

Well I think it is possible for pastors to become location independent. And I’ve come up with 7 location independent jobs for pastors.

7 Pastor Ministry Jobs that are Location Independent

  1. Itinerant Ministry - Lots of pastors travel and speak (or sing, if you’re a musician) at conferences, revivals, etc. Some pastors can make a good living doing this, especially when they have a signature keynote talk that they give, and then have resources/books/videos that people will want to buy, etc. So, do you have a keynote talk or message within you? If you need help with that, check out my friend Jonathan Milligan’s new book Your Message Matters. For a limited time during the launch of the book, he's giving away FREE copies - you just have to pay for shipping.
  2. Interim pastor - Have you ever considered being an interim pastor? Often I think of retired pastors in this role. And sometimes they’re just filling the pulpit. But there’s another opportunity to lead and prepare the church for the transition, resolving recurring issues so the church can be healthier and ready for the new pastor. Often I think of older, retired pastors serving as interim pastors, but I don't think it necessarily needs to be that way. This could be a great opportunity for younger pastors who have had executive pastor or lead pastor experience.
  3. Online pastor - COVID 19 has opened up a whole new world of online church community. Our church has been online for years, live streaming on Facebook, but we knew when the pandemic started that we should find a way to create a better online experience for our church...to re-orient what we do to be for those who can join us onsite and also online. I had the opportunity of doing some initial research, looking for churches who were doing that well, and coming up with a proposal of what we could do. Could there be an opportunity to have a totally online church? I think so. I think it’s possible for a pastor to build an online community that does not have a physical location in any particular community.
  4. International missions leader - Work for a missions organization or denomination as a coach and mentor to missionaries and national leaders.
  5. Online Educator - Teach college or seminary level classes online to train and equip other pastors for ministry.
  6. Coach/Consultant - Provide coaching to pastors and consulting to churches to help them navigate transitions, HR, fundraising/capital campaigns, personal growth, etc. to grow and take new ground, etc. 
  7. Self-Fund Your Ministry - What if you had your own profitable online business that could self-fund the ministry you wanted to do and give you the freedom to live and work from anywhere?  

Some of these would have seemed pretty far-fetched a couple of years ago. But so many opportunities have opened up now thanks to Covid-19. And things that weren’t possible, suddenly come within the realm of possibility.

That's why I love the quote I shared earlier from Dan Miller:

“What does this now make possible?”

Look at how many millions of people in the US are now able to do their work from home instead of the office? What does this now make possible for churches to outsource much of their office admin functions, graphic design, social media, etc.?

I heard it said that a year ago, 10% of churches were streaming online and 90% weren’t. But now 90% are streaming, and only 10% are not. What does this now make possible for pastors who are preaching online - does it really matter where they preach from?

For example, if your church is going to be meeting online only for an extended season, now’s a great time to work from Florida or somewhere warm. Why not take a month or three and enjoy a different season and change of pace.

For me, numbers 4, 6 and 7 are really interesting possibilities to me:

#4 because I already have the opportunity to do that with pastors around the world through my work as a global outreach pastor, and now through More Than a Pastor.

And #6 & 7 are coming together for me as I seek to self-fund my ministry through being a coach to help other pastors create the life, impact and income they were made for.

It just takes a little time to reimagine our callings and be intentional about creating the kind of life we feel called to. It doesn’t just happen on its own.

So what do you think? Would you like to be location independent? What would you like or not like about that?

I’d love to get your feedback on this, and hear your thoughts over in our private More Than a Pastor Facebook Group.

And if you have dreams of being location independent and you’d like help in figuring out how to do that. Or you’ve had other dreams and you’re just not sure if they’re still possible, or how you’d even get started?

I’d like to give you a free resource to help you create clarity about your most important values, dreams, and passions, and help you reimagine your calling so you can serve God in a more fulfilling way and create the life, impact, and income you were made for.

>>Click to Download Your Personal Clarity GPS