Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church

Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church logo showing person and church on a balancing scale

Program Explanation

The Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program is a new, grant funded initiative of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry providing support to multivocational, part-time pastors in their own context.

In the Church of the Brethren, 77% of congregational pastors serve in less-than full-time pastoral roles.
Respondents' position with Church of the Brethren. 23% half-time with pro-rated compensation, 21% between half- and full-time with pro-rated compensation, 20% less than half-time with pro-rated compensation, 20% other, 9% plural non-salaried leadership, 7% volunteer pastoral leadership

One of the challenges of these multivocational workers is that their multiple vocational commitments make scheduling, meeting, and travel especially hard. Part-time pastors are often unable to take advantage of district or denominational gatherings or resources because they cannot take vacation time from their second job, can’t afford the travel, or are simply don’t have time to add one more event into a week’s schedule. The Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program plans to make support and resources to strengthen skills and practices available in ways that address this particular challenge.

When a pastor joins the program, a “circuit rider” will work with them to schedule an in-person visit. Circuit Riders will be regionally based, traveling to visit pastors in their own context. During a visit, a Circuit Rider will get to know the pastor, their congregation, and the local context. Pastors will share more of their personal joys and challenges, and together the pastor and Circuit Rider will identify particular resources that might be helpful and valuable for both the pastor and their congregation.

The Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program will offer a host of educational and formational resources on the topics that multivocational pastors name as valuable. Experts on congregational leadership development, community outreach, congregational care and creative worship planning will share education and professional development through online platforms, offered during time frames that are accessible to part-time pastors.

The third piece of the Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program will be online affinity groups – places for multivocational pastors to connect to one another for mutual sharing and support, offering a safe place for pastoral fellowship and understanding. These groups might be organized around a shared topic of interest, or they may simply be groups of pastors looking for general support.

The advisory committee plans to invite multivocational pastors to begin participating in the Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program by the beginning of 2020.

Survey Results

The first step in unrolling this new program was to commission a large-scale, qualitative and quantitative survey of all the denomination’s part-time, multivocational pastors. CRANE Metamarketing, Inc. created and interpreted the survey process. Invitations were issued to 600 pastors, and approximately half participated. Here’s some of what we learned:
graph of information below

  • 65% of multivocational pastors in the Church of the Brethren serve as solo pastors. 20% are part of a ministry team, 9% share a pastoral position with their spouse, and 7% serve in “second staff” roles.
  • 73% of multivocational pastors are over age 55.
  • 23% of multivocational pastors have another part-time job. 22% hav a full-time job in addition to their congregational work, and 11% have more than one job in addition to ministry.
  • 39% of multivocational pastors in the Church of the Brethren supplement their ministry salary with retirement income of some kind.
  • Most multivocational pastors (56%) serve congregations that are made up of mostly middle-aged and/or elderly members with very few teens or children.

The most mentioned needs of multivocational pastors included financial support, opportunities to connect with other bi-vocational ministers, training opportunities for specific kinds of pastoral counseling, and resources to help educate congregations about part-time ministry and its implications.

Advisory Committee

Mayra Calix, multivocational pastor from the Atlantic Northeast District
Dana Cassell, Thriving in Ministry Program Manager
Ken Frantz, representative of the Church of the Brethren Ministers Association and multivocational pastor from the Western Plains District
Nancy Heishman, Director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry
Mark Kell, multivocational pastor from the Northern Ohio District
Scott Kinnick, District Executive for the Southeastern District
Janet Ober Lambert, Director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership
Russ Matteson, District Executive for the Pacific Southwest District
Steve Schweitzer, Academic Dean at Bethany Theological Seminary