Empathy Week: How Can We Come Back Together in a Divided Nation?

‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Jesus in Matthew 10:34-39

There is no rejection more painful than family rejection. Brene Brown

The country I love is more divided than I’ve ever remembered.  Not only does it bring All The Feelings (shame, grief, sadness, resentment, and a crushed heart) it also reminds me of what Jesus said about how we will be rejected when we try to follow Jesus.  I’m not talking about the platitudes.  I’m not talking about the upbeat Bible verses.  I’m talking about disagreeing on who God is and who God calls us to be.

When we Christians deeply disagree to the point that we cannot talk with each other anymore, it makes me profoundly sad.  The upcoming election is bringing this up for me like no other time.

Is Jesus divisive?  Sadly, yes.

As a lifelong long Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches that:

  • Jesus died to show us the depths that God would go to show us how much we are loved.  Can we even get our minds around this – that God would die for us?  I can barely comprehend it.  This cosmically defeated sin and evil, and yet sin and evil are still real.
  • What happens on this earth matters.  It’s not about “getting into heaven.”  It’s not about telling the poor, the enslaved, the desperate that they will get their justice in heaven.  No. No. No. Jesus prayed “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  If we ignore the poor, the sick, the outcast, the people we assume are not like us while we are alive, we are in utter disobedience to the God who made us all.
  • There are at least two forms of justice in the world today just as there were at least two forms of justice when Jesus walked in Palestine: one for the dominant culture and one for the people who are not in the dominant culture.  And this is a sin. If you are a young white man who is caught high on weed in a public place, you will most likely be sent home.  If you are a young black man who is caught high on weed in a public place, you will be arrested and possibly shot.  Please connect with me in the comment section if you’d like me to share evidence of this from the public record.
  • Jesus has called us not to be sympathetic (“I feel so sorry for you.“) and not to be empathetic (more about that tomorrow) but to be compassionate.  Jesus was “filled with compassion” more than once in the Greek Bible and this involves walking alongside those in pain.  Not feeling for them.  Not imagining how they feel.  But being with them in their suffering.  Emmanuel = God with us.  And we are supposed to do what Jesus did.

So here’s where the division comes in – especially for Christians.  When the basic tenets of my faith (see above) are at odds with the basic tenets of your faith, our politics are informed accordingly and we are at odds.  We see the world differently, even though we both identify as followers of Jesus.

As a follower of Jesus:

  • I will vote for candidates who show a semblance of love towards the people God died for.
  • I will vote for candidates who understand that there is no peace in the world without justice, especially for the poor, the sick, and the outcast.
  • I will vote for candidates who show compassion.

And because of this, I find myself profoundly sad because this divides me from family and friends.  And yet, Jesus told us this would happen.

And this is the labor many of us carry today.

Image from a window in a Geneva, Switzerland church sanctuary  Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash.

Isabel Wilkerson Explains It All

America is an old house.

If you’ve ever lived in an old house, you know that there is always work to do to keep that house structurally sound. Ancient roots have messed with the foundation. There are four layers of shingles covering up a damaged roof. Old destruction caused by critters can’t be ignored any longer.

Nine years after The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson has blessed us with Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent.  It’s such a good book and if you are a preacher, prepare to be drenched in sermon illustrations. Ms. Wilkinson brilliantly describes the United States as an old house that needs to address the cracks in our foundation.

The Institutional Church is also an old house.

There is always work to do in terms of learning about God and the history of God’s people and our history as God’s people.  There are repairs to make (and I’m not talking about the church roof or the lighting in the sanctuary) and sometimes it feels easier to ignore them . . . until we cannot ignore them any longer.

As my own corner of Church World grapples with systemic racism, as we try to become an anti-racist Church, the subsequent issues involves fear. Hot topics always invite what could be difficult conversations.

I believe that congregations willing to have difficult conversations are dynamic and theologically faithful.  They are confident that God’s truth will be lifted up and they don’t fear that “people will leave” when there are differences.

I love my brother’s response to differences in theology when debating certain issues:  “I’m just not there yet.”  It’s a generous thing to say, making the assumption that he might one day shift in his views.

There are churches with Black Lives Matter banners in their front lawns.  There are churches offering Bible studies about racism.  There are churches delving deeply into the history of White Supremacy in the Church.  And there are churches ignoring that there is a problem.

Just like an old house, The Church of Jesus Christ – especially in the United States – needs work.  Ancient biases have messed with the foundation. There are layers of mythology covering up a damaged structure. Destructive assumptions can no longer be ignored.  (Except many congregations are indeed ignoring them.)

Not doing the work to tear down and rebuild and repair will eventually cause the whole thing to crash.  And so, we need to face the truth about what lies behind the walls, underneath the foundation, and above our heads.

Do. Not. Be. Afraid. That. People. Will. Leave. Your. Congregation. If. You. Talk. About. Hard. Things.  Yes, they will leave.  And others will join you.

Please read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.  She will explain it all.

Don’t Be Afraid

It was the admonition of angels and prophets and even Jesus in Holy Scripture and most of us fail at living it:

Don’t be afraid.

As I talk with church people about everything from the pandemic to calling a new pastor, it’s clear that many are afraid.  Their biggest fears seem to be these:

  • If we don’t get back into the sanctuary soon, people will become so used to not “going to church” that they will never come back.
  • If we discuss difficult topics (like Black Lives Matter) people will leave the church.
  • If we can’t have traditional Sunday School we won’t even be a church anymore.
  • If we don’t have a new pastor by Christmas, people will find new churches.

We’ve all heard about the importance of faith over fear.  It’s in Scripture, hymns, and those fun “encouragements” you can buy at Homegoods to hang on the wall.

When I hear lifelong church people express their fears, I (perhaps unfairly) think: “This church is dying and they don’t know it.”  Their identity is about surviving, not being A Light to the World.

I’m not saying “let go and let God.”  Yuck. No.  (It’s true but we’ve turned it into a wall plaque.)  I’m saying that when we live out our calling in faith, God makes it abundantly clear when things need to change.

Our identity as The Church is not in our building, our programs, our ability to hire a pastor, or the number of people on our rolls.  Our identity is in Jesus Christ.

  • How are we making a life-giving impact in our community in the name of Jesus?
  • What positive things have we learned about God and ourselves as God’s people during this pandemic?
  • What’s keeping us from being the people God created us to be?

These are exciting times to be the Church.  I say this boldly and – to be honest – with trepidation considering that the world is a hot mess.  (And how can Chadwick Boseman be dead?)

But praying about the future of The Church is no joke.  It’s not a platitude to nail to the livingroom wall.  It’s serious business.  Every week as I serve Charlotte Presbytery – and I mean every week – I see God moving.  God is especially moving in shake-it-up kinds of ways:

The person who “is not yet ready” for leadership becomes the one called to step up now.  The impossible task of clearing the decks in terms of tired leadership is miraculously achieved. The funding needed for a desperately needed ministry is found.

God is doing amazing things during 2020.  The year is a monster, to be sure.  It’s been ugly and devastating and violent and often evil.  And yet, we are not afraid.  In fact, we expect resurrection.

Image is a quote from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Augustus’ parents were all about “encouragements.” (I like pillow sayings as much as anyone but true faith is not a platitude.)

Evaluating Pastors During a Pandemic

Be honest: was your pastor officially evaluated last year? 

I’ve found three things about evaluating clergy serving churches:

  1. Many churches never evaluate their pastors.
  2. When churches do evaluate their pastors, it’s often unsatisfying.
  3. Most parishioners truly have no idea what pastors do all week.

Jill Hudson continues to be the go-to person for clergy evaluation and she looks for these themes when evaluating clergy:

  1. How effective is the pastor in personal, professional, and spiritual balance?
  2. How effective is the pastor in guiding a transformational faith experience?
  3. How effective is the pastor in motivating and developing a congregation to be a “mission outpost” (help churches reclaim their role in reaching new believers)?
  4. How effective is the pastor in developing and communicating a vision?
  5. How effective is the pastor in interpreting and leading change?
  6. How effective is the pastor in promoting and leading spiritual formation for church members?
  7. How effective is the pastor in providing leadership for high-quality, relevant worship experiences?
  8. How effective is the pastor in identifying, developing, and supporting congregational leaders?
  9. How effective is the pastor in building, inspiring, and leading a team of both staff and volunteers.
  10. How effective is the pastor at managing conflict?
  11. How effective is the pastor in navigating technology?
  12. How effective is the pastor at being a lifelong learner?

Even these questions can fall short but they are better than questions about “the pastor’s plan for growing the church” or the “the pastor’s plan for raising money for the roof.

If clergy evaluations have been tricky pre-pandemic, they are more so now that we’ve been social distancing since mid-March.  There are so many new ways parishioners can transfer their frustrations and anxieties on pastors during COVID-19:

  • Why won’t the pastor let us back in the sanctuary?
  • Why didn’t the pastor visit me in the hospital when I had surgery?
  • Why aren’t we doing Zoom Bible Studies like the Lutherans?

I’ve had church leaders contact me to ask if they could pay their pastors for PT work now since “obviously they aren’t working full time these days.”  Congregants have no idea.

I like Jill Hudson’s themes because what we want in a church community is indeed healthy balance, transformation, inspiration, vision, leadership, and authentic relationships.  We can live with the occasional dull sermon or off-key anthem or peeling paint if we are growing closer to God, closer to each other, and closer to our God-given purpose as individuals and community.

We are moving into staff review season as congregations consider their 2021 budgets.  A healthy congregation has a healthy and satisfying review process. Read Jill’s book.  Remember that staff evaluations are about the whole congregation.  A happy, healthy, thriving church staff makes for a happy, healthy, thriving church even during a global pandemic.

Image source.

The Parable of the Farmers’ Market

Parables are the shocking stories Jesus told to teach us about God.  And this is the Parable of the Farmers’ Market.

There was a Farmers’ Market in Charlotte, NC and the vegetables and flowers were almost too beautiful to bear. The smells were intoxicating.  And the world seemed as it should be. God did this.

Baby bok choy in deep greens.  Eggplants in royal purples. Sweet peppers in colors never before seen in the average garden. Jalapenos to delight the soul. Flowers too gorgeous to choose just one bouquet.

Catfish and fresh rainbow trout. Breads for the gluttons and gluten free. Olive oils and honey as far as you can see. Coffee beans and fruit juices. Peaches and blackberries large enough to make a person weep.

And the people. On one particular Saturday the people were from Korea and India and Syria and Ghana and Honduras.  There were women donning bindis and chadors. There were men in Lily Pulitzer shorts and in blue jeans. Their skins were golden and brown and black and white.

It was a happy place, a God-given place.

And then three middle-aged white men were overheard talking about how “those four police officers taught that crook a lesson.” “They shot the hell out of him” the one in the turquoise shirt said, laughing.

And there was a guy wearing this T-shirt.

And the LORD said,  “I have given you blessings of every color and shape,  from every nation and creed.  And you curse my blessings.  And while you are rich in worldly power and contempt, you who do not treasure the colors and textures I have created in this life will be condemned in the next. To those who love, love will drench them even in times of brokenness.  And to those who hate, there will be deep sorrow.”

Have a hope-filled Monday.

Images from the Charlotte Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 29.

Conversations with an Unexpected Twist

I try to take somebody’s mother out to dinner on August 28th every year because it’s my mother’s birthday and I can’t take her out to dinner.  Last year I took her sister out for dinner and I called at the last minute to get a reservation:

Me:  Hi.  I’d like a reservation for two outside.  Someplace with a nice view.

Hostess:  Is this a special occasion?

Me:  Yes, it’s my mother’s birthday and her sister and I are meeting for dinner.

Hostess: Will you mother be coming with her sister?

Me: Unfortunately no.  My mother is dead.  But please wish a Happy Birthday to her sister if she gets there before I do.

I love eating out. When we arrived, the hostess mentioned how nice it was that V & I were getting together for Mom’s birthday. And then the hostess told me about her own mother who had died recently of breast cancer.  Yep.

Yesterday, I had a doctor’s appointment and as I was leaving, the conversation went like this:

Me: (to my doctor who has a LeBron poster on his wall) Did you see LeBron talking about the NBA boycott last night?

*Doc: Why do people have to be so emotional?

Me: ?

Doc: I mean, I don’t see race.  But clearly this black man was a bad guy.  He had a knife.

Me: I think the knife was in his car.  He didn’t have a weapon on him at the time he was shot.

Doc: But the police know what they are doing.  They were just defending themselves.

Me: Do they? He was shot in the back seven times.  I don’t think he would have been shot if he was a white guy.

Doc: People are so emotional. 

*Maybe I don’t need to say this, but this doc is a young straight white guy.

I like doctors – especially those who like basketball.  We were talking about my shoulder and then the conversation made a twist and I found myself talking about racism with with this guy who is a specialist I don’t need to see after next week.

We never know when simple conversations turn into more complicated conversations.  But it’s important that we see people and talk with them – even if the simple becomes more complicated.  There could be a pastoral twist.  Or a political one.

But we need to keep talking to each other.

Happy birthday Mom.

Image of the dessert I always ate for Mom’s birthday when we lived in Northern Virginia: The Flourless Chocolate Waffle at The Carlyle.

Protesting As a Faith Practice

Cutting straight to the chase here:  Peaceful protest is protected by the U.S. Constitution.  PROTESTING IS NOT THE SAME AS RIOTING. Protesting is also a spiritual practice.

I was asked in a church interview in 1988, “Can you think of any reason why you might protest something in a public gathering?”  It was an interesting question to ask a pastoral candidate.  I thought for a moment and responded, “Any reason?  There are many reasons why I might protest something for the sake of the Gospel.  Wouldn’t you?

I sounded so confidently evangelical and social justice-y, didn’t I?  At that point in my life, I don’t know that I had ever protested anything in public.  I voted.  I wrote letters to my representatives.  But I was a rule follower who was taught to be ladylike and marching with signs seemed a little radical.  It never occurred to me that protesting is a spiritual practice.

Consider what Jesus did for the sake of the Gospel.  (And he was actually a little destructive in this story.)

Today, protesters are confused with looters and definitions have become political.  One side is all about Black Lives Matter and the peaceful protests asking for justice for George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, and now Jacob Blake. The other side equates protesting with breaking windows and setting buildings on fire.

Senator Mitt Romney joined evangelical Christians to peacefully protest the death of George Floyd on June 7th. People of many different faiths have joined protests here in Charlotte, NC where I live.  Why do we do this?

  • Because we want to express our support for mistreated people.
  • Because we want to draw attention to injustice. (Still – nobody has been arrested for the March 13th murder of Breonna Taylor in her own bed in a case of mistaken identity. Wouldn’t you be enraged if that were your daughter or sister?  Wouldn’t you ask for justice for her?)
  • Because we want to gather in unity to support each other.
  • Because peaceful actions often change policy. (In Charlotte, the police will no longer be buying chemical weapons after protests in June.)

Can you think of any reason why you might protest something in a public gathering?  I hope we all would, for the sake of the Gospel.

We pray.  We read Holy Scripture. We gather for worship. We serve our neighbors.  And we stand up for what’s right because that’s what God commands.  These are just some of the ways we practice our faith.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
   and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Top image from Senator Romney’s Twitter feed.  Bottom image from the 2017 Women’s March in Chicago.

Blurry Lines

My brain is blurrier these days for several reasons ranging from pandemic fog to Zoom overload. Yesterday I couldn’t remember the word “liturgy.”

Professional and personal boundaries are also blurred during this pandemic time in small and not-so-small ways:

  1. We get to see inside people’s private homes and offices on Zoom calls. This Global Health expert has an electric guitar on her wall. Anthony Fauci collects baseballs. (Not surprisingly) Martha Stewart has a really nice espresso machine and (surprisingly) a dog that sheds like crazy. Would someone please interview Phoebe Waller Bridge from her London flat? Or Cynthia Erivo? Fun game you can play at home: who has a Bible on their bookshelf?  In a world in which it is not okay to peep through somebody’s windows, it is okay to check out their private space online.
  2. Work/Home lines are definitely blurred during this time of home quarantine, if we are fortunate enough to have jobs and be able to work from home.  I can turn off my Zoom video and eat a sandwich while the rest of the committee talks.  I can bake a quiche during a staff meeting.  And I can answer emails after 10 pm if I want. (Actually that was always true.) My therapist recommends that I shut down work at 5 and not look at it again until the next morning, and I wasn’t even good at that pre-COVID.  In a world where it’s not okay to wear pjs to the office, now it’s perfectly fine to wear them all day with an appropriate shirt.
  3. After beloved pastors leave our church to go to another church, we can still see them in worship every Sunday via YouTube and Facebook Live.  It’s like they never left!  In a world in which former pastors sign separation agreements to refrain from offering pastoral care after they leave us, it’s now okay to watch them preach every Sunday.

Clear boundaries are essential in any organization and yet those boundaries might be forever altered post-pandemic.  Many people plan to continue meeting via Zoom.  Many congregations plan to offer online worship long after a vaccine is available.  And it’s increasingly difficult to fully separate from the relationships we enjoyed in previous workplaces.

We face the adventure of figuring all this out in the coming years.  I see the creation of new boundaries that maintain appropriate roles and norms AND allow for more permission-giving and fluidity.

This is a good thing if we take on the attitude that this is a time of creativity and courage.  As a person who wears eyeglasses, it’s a little scary when the world looks blurry.  But if we help each other and ask for holy guidance, we’ll continue to move in the right direction.

Image source.

A Vote That Hurts My Family

As a pastor who serves people of differing political opinions, I often say that the Bible is an equal opportunity offender.  There are verses that offend most Democrats and there are verses that offend most Republicans.  God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican.

Although they might make me sad, frustrated and even angry, political differences about issues like bank deregulation or clean water or the defense budget or the next Supreme Court justice are not enough to make me want to break up with you as a friend or colleague or family member.

But – and I write this with trepidation – there is a vote coming up ten weeks from today and the results could physically threaten my family.

[NOTE: It always frustrates me when politicians speak up because it personally impacts their own families.  Example: The senator who is quiet about protecting LGBTQ citizens until his son comes out as gay. And yet, here I am.]

I am white. And there are three brown people in my immediate family: two by marriage and one by unofficial adoption.  And I fear for their safety in these politically divided days.  It’s one thing when you vote for someone whose policies are against what I believe as an American Christian.  It’s another thing when you vote for someone whose incendiary words could get my kids killed.

The heartbreaking part is that people who know and love my kids are the very people who are considering a vote for the one who’s put their lives at risk in a way they’ve never been at risk before in this country.

Isabel Wilkerson spells out what I’m talking about in her excellent book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents:

  • (Before the 2016 election) – A police commander in southern New Jersey talked about mowing down African-Americans and complained that the woman candidate, the Democrat, would ‘give in to all the minorities.’ That September, he beat a handcuffed black teenager who had been arrested for swimming in a pool without authorization.  The commmander grabbed the teenager’s head and, witnesses said, rammed it ‘like a basketball’ into a metal doorjamb.  As the election drew near, the commander told his officers that the reality television star ‘is the last hope for white people.’
  • (After the 2016 election) – A man on a golf course in Georgia could feel freer to express himself.  He was a son of the Confederacy, which had gone to war against the United States for the right to enslave other humans. The election was a victory for him and for the social order he had been born to. He said to those around him, ‘I remember a time when everybody knew their place. Time we got back to that.’
  • (After Inauguration Day) – A white man in Kansas shot and killed an Indian engineer, telling the immigrant and his Indian co-worker to ‘get out of my country’ as he fired upon them.
  • (In February 2017) – A clean-cut white army veteran caught a bus from Baltimore to New York on a mission to kill black people. He stalked a sixty-six year old black man in Times Square and stabbed him to death with a sword.
  • (In May 2017) – On a packed commuter train in Portland, Oregon, a white man hurling racial and anti-Muslim epithets, attacked two teenaged girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. ‘Get the ___ out,’ he ranted. ‘We need Americans here.’
  • (In August 2017) – A white supremacist drove into a crowd of anti-hate protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a young white woman, Heather Heyer, in a standoff over monuments to the Confederacy . . . 

I could go on and on with more examples from Caste and from myriad news reports. And my brown kids could also share what has been said to them, yelled at them, and done to them over the past four years, but those stories are theirs to tell. It’s never been easy to live in their skin.  But the past four years have been increasingly dangerous.

Maybe you don’t take me seriously. But I share this with humility and not a little fear:

A vote for one candidate on the ballot again this year is a vote against the safety of my own family.

Yes, I care about your families too.  Yes, I care about my neighbors.  But when it’s possible that my own kids are at risk of physical harm, my heart pounds like the mothers of brown and black children throughout our nation’s history. My fears are minimal compared to theirs.  My worries shrink in comparison.

You might say that this candidate for President did not hold the sword or the knife or the gun that committed those crimes. You might say that his hands were not on the wheel of that car in Charlottesville. But the truth is that extremists have been given permission to dehumanize people because this candidate publically dehumanizes people. It’s on tape. He says dehumanizing things about God’s children out loud with a microphone on a regular basis.

You might say that all the haters I’ve mentioned are the exceptions, the bad apples, all mentally ill individuals.  But they’ve been emboldened.

I would hope that we vote based on what’s healthy for our nation as a sovereign country and as a global leader.  I would hope that any candidate who professes belief in Jesus Christ would look to Jesus to inform decision-making and personal behavior.

But if those hopes fall flat, maybe you will vote for the protection of my family and all families whose children are not white and for our daughters who are objectified. We can work out political differences together.  But we can’t stop the hate until we vote against hate.

Thanks for listening.  I’m kind of desperate.

Image of the White Supremacist who killed two men on a commuter train who were defending two young women.  In one of the videos, he yells “f*** all you n*****s”

Side Hustles

I once knew a pastor who had a side job as a public school bus driver – unbeknownst to the congregation he served.  One of the elders from his church was sitting at an intersection waiting for the red light to change, when she glanced at the bus to her left and saw that the driver was her pastor.  That’s why he was never available for early morning or afternoon meetings.  That’s why he complained about having to work Holy Week or around Christmastime.  We also learned later that he’d been renting out his own study at the church building to another pastor and keeping the rent money.

This is not what I’m talking about when I refer to pastors with side hustles.

A financial mentor HH and I are reading believes that every person needs three streams of income.  Whether you are a teacher or a barber or a pastor, she suggests three streams of income for all.

For pastors, this is called Tentmaking and it usually refers to pastors whose churches do not or cannot pay the pastor a living wage.  The Apostle Paul was literally a tentmaker on the side, and I’ve known part-time preachers who also work as web designers, therapists, jewelry makers, and bakers.  Usually these additional jobs are known to the congregations served by those pastors (unlike the bus driver-pastor.)

I once made a comment about getting a second job when I was serving as a pastor, paid the minimum salary and having a hard time covering our family expenses.  The parishioner was clearly horrified:

Why would you do that?  It would bring embarrassment to our church because people would think we don’t pay you enough.  And besides you already work for us 24-7.

Seriously, that’s what she said.

So, what about “appropriate” side hustles?  Having three streams of income could mean that two adults both have salaries and you also have investments.  Or you could have a single income but on the side you sell stuff on eBay and do calligraphy for weddings.  Or maybe you get paid well but you rent out your guest room via AirBNB and you make face masks at home to sell on Etsy for “vacation money.”

Pastors do a lot of things for free:

  • Weddings and funerals for friends and even strangers (even though people should offer an honorarium.)
  • Preach for churches that can’t afford a pastor (although – again – they should be paid for their services plus mileage.)
  • Write articles for journals.
  • Speak at conferences.
  • Lead workshops.

My new financial mentor friend says that we should never offer our expertise for free, even for church leaders.  Pastors tend to be generous with our time and we often perceive that faith organizations cannot afford to pay us.  We didn’t choose professional ministry for the money.

And yet . . .

Everyone reading this post has something valuable to offer.  Intellectual property. Time. Creative ideas. Tangible artistry.

We’ve been saying this for a long time in Church World, but side hustles are going to become more and more essential as fewer and fewer congregations can afford full time pastoral leadership.  I like thinking of side hustles as a creative outlet rather than a burdensome requirement for supporting ourselves and our families.

So, I ask you faithful readers:

  • If you have a full-time pastor, how would you feel about your pastor earning extra income on the side?
  • If you are a professional pastor, have you ever picked up extra work either because you wanted to or you had to?

Please share.

Image of retired Presbyterian pastor Grant Gillard who – even while serving congregations – raised bees.  He continues to sell honey in his retirement.