2 Reasons Why Pastor Jobs and Income Won't be the Same After the Coronavirus Pandemic

covocational pastors grow your income Mar 31, 2020
covocational pastors

In a post entitled, YOUR CHURCH IS NOW A BLANK SLATE, church leadership expert Thom Rainer says "The world will never be the same" after the coronavirus pandemic, "And neither will your church."

What if your income as a pastor will never be the same either?

Rainer rightly points out that many churches will struggle to stay afloat after one, two, or three months of government-mandated shut-down. And that means some congregations will not be able to recover from the loss of income.

For those churches that do survive, Rainer says they will have an unprecedented opportunity to rethink how they do ministry, and discover new and fresh ways to thrive and grow.

He shares 10 points to consider as pastors rethink how to "do church." Most deal with how churches can adapt to new technology and cultural trends to survive, and also how to better engage their communities.

Rainer's final two points, however, have direct bearing on the future of pastoral positions and income models in the post-coronavirus church:

  1. Read the book of Acts. Read the letters to the early churches. What changes do your church need to make to become a New Testament church?
  2. What does church staffing look like with a blank slate? Is it time to shift models?



The 21st Century Church Will Look Like the 1st Century Church

I've felt for some time that the 21st century church will look a lot more like the 1st century church, because our multiethnic and pluralistic culture today is so similar to what it was like in the 1st century Roman Empire.

But what I didn't grasp until recently is how this cultural shift may mean the end of "full-time" pastors earning their income solely from their church work. And it may mark the beginning of a new co-vocational ministry revolution, where pastors primarily earn their income from the marketplace.


The 21st Century Church Won't Be Sustained by Tithes and Offerings

Because churches will no longer be able to sustain full-time pastoral positions, as their income from tithes and offerings will be greatly diminished.

I believe this will be true for two primary reasons:

  1. A growing majority of people in our communities find no value in "organized" religion or traditional church. And no matter how great our preaching, music, or programs are, they will NEVER set foot inside our church building.
  2. Millennial and Gen Z Christians are giving tithes and offerings to churches at rates that pale in comparison to their parents and grandparents. This means that churches will not be able to sustain themselves by tithes and offerings alone.

So what does this mean for pastors in a post-coronavirus church?


21st Century Pastors Will Work Co-Vocationally in the Marketplace

I think it's time for full-time pastors to adapt and become like the 1st century "tentmaker" who developed streams of income from sources outside their church. 

A generation or two ago, it was practically considered a "sin" in some theological circles for pastors to consider working a job or side hustle alongside their pastoral ministry.

I heard these words expressed several times by pastors and professors: "If you can see yourself doing anything else besides preaching God's Word, then you should go do that instead of being a pastor."

The next generation will think nothing of co-vocational pastors who work full-time or part-time in a job AND pastor a church. Or of pastors who fully-fund their pastoral ministry through their own business enterprise.


How Will You Survive the Transition to Co-Vocational Pastoral Ministry?

But what will happen to pastors like you and I who are caught somewhere in between? I think it's time for us to flip our lives before they get flipped on us.

  1. Take stock of all your skills and abilities that are transferrable to the marketplace
  2. Have a conversation with your supervisor or board chair regarding the possibility necessity of developing a tandem career in the marketplace
  3. Explore part-time job options or take steps to launch your own business or side hustle

Personally, I'm launching a coaching business to help pastors find the clarity, tools, and courage they need to take action and thrive when everything changes, so they can create more income, take control of their time, and change their family's future.

What's your next move?

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