I understand what a challenge it can be to focus on ministry when finances are tight. Over the years I have received several questions on the topic of supplemental income. Some of you have asked about precautions when working on supplemental income projects. I have heard from quite a few pastors who are worried their church will not find favor with them doing more than “just pastoring.” So here are eight precautions you need to take when working on supplemental income:
1. Don’t neglect your family. It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends and neglect your family. Remember they are your first line of ministry.
2. Don’t neglect your church. Supplemental income should not take priority over your ministry in the local church. It can complement it, but should not supplant it. If it does, then it needs to become your primary vocation.
3. Don’t think it’s a method to get rich quick. If you’re in the ministry for money, get out. Some pastors and church staff eventually do quite well with supplemental income, but don’t expect to be swimming in cash right away.
4. Don’t neglect the needed foundation. Preparation and groundwork is almost always required before you will have a steady stream of supplemental income. Do the work needed at the beginning to have a foundation from which to build your supplemental income.
5. Don’t get discouraged. Again, it takes time. Don’t let a few slow months (or even years) at the beginning discourage you. Be patient.
6. Don’t miss the opportunities for ministry. More often than not, your supplemental income will come from a source tied to your current ministry. Don’t miss the connections that become available. Use your supplemental work to benefit your vocational ministry.
7. Don’t try too hard. You know this pastor—the one who won’t stop talking about his speaking gigs or book sales or outside income. Don’t be that pastor.
8. Don’t fail to understand the supplemental income world. Do your homework on how to improve, what avenues are available, and how to connect your supplemental income streams together. The new book Entrepreneurial You is a great overview of what it takes and how successful platforms can be built.
These aren’t the only mistakes, but they certainly are the ones pastors make most frequently. Finally, I want to encourage you as you consider supplemental income streams. Most ministers have the capacity and the desire to expand their current ministry. If that’s you, go for it—just avoid these mistakes.
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Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and ten grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found at ThomRainer.com, on Twitter @ThomRainer, and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.
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