Let’s imagine that you are the super volunteer at your church. You respond with an enthusiastic “Sign me up!” every time you read in the bulletin the church needs help. You are thrilled to be invited to the table where ministry designs are developed, plans for retreats are made, and you attend every training that is offered at church so you can be the best at whatever you do. You are living out the scriptural challenge of “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” with joy and energy.

Then, a staff position opens up. Part time, but a paid position nonetheless. You can’t even sleep for the excitement that you have been “tapped” to do the work of the Lord in the local church you love.

OR…you were already “on staff” in a successful fee-based ministry working with paid staff building community relationships inside and outside the church.  The church comes to you and offers you an opportunity to be on “real” church staff in a related area.  It appears to be a natural fit for the church and for you, so you now have a seat at the table where vision is cast, calendars are negotiated, and relationships with church staff move to a whole new level as you work with paid staff some of the time and with volunteer/unpaid staff the other part of the time.

Six months in the position, you have your office somewhat in order, you find yourself working with 3 separate calendars, and trying to balance living your life with living out your calling to professional ministry.

This is the story of so many called into professional ministry, but not seminary.

We eagerly bring our gifts and graces to the altar of the local church with enthusiasm and excitement.  But once we can no longer be the super volunteer, our skills-set may be missing a few key components that are necessary to make for a healthy ministry.  But where do you go?  Who do you ask?  How do we effectively transition from doing it all to empowering others, leading by example, and growing a great forgiveness tank for ourselves and others?  How do we become a part of the professional team of servants God has called to lead the local church we love?

This is just a small list of areas I wish I had known more about in the beginning of my call into healthy and effective professional ministry:

  • leading a successful meeting
  • recruiting volunteers
  • conflict management
  • how to negotiate to a YES! with trustees
  • making a ministry budget
  • how to interview
  • how to fire/redirect a volunteer
  • how to say “no”
  • how to maintain healthy boundaries
  • how to begin the Safe Sanctuary process when it makes all the sense in the world to me yet not to others
  • how to market ministry inside and outside the church other than the bulletin
  • how to write a magnificent newsletter article or a press release
  • how to set calendaring priorities
  • how to set up a networking group of folks outside my own house/church and making it a priority to build those relationships (did this anyway, but not sure I did it right)
  • how to train volunteers, find volunteers, stop being the only volunteer
  • how to soothe and heal the wounds made by stained glass
  • how to make balloon animals
  • how to talk about God that is in line with my denomination
  • how to study the Bible on my own (because being on church staff means that worship is different now)
  • how to build a team
  • how to make the committee system work efficiently
  • self-care (and I’m not talking about a facial)
  • the structure of a healthy church
  • how to interview for a church job
  • how to prepare a resume’ for a professional ministry position
  • how to interview a church
  • how to strengthen the ideas and creative energies of others
  • how not to be a horse’s patoot to my family when there is so much going on

What if… there was training offered, close-by (really, really, really close-by), inexpensively (really, really, really inexpensively), in bite-sized pieces, over a one or two year period of time, giving you access to people who are the best at what they do (which is what you do)?  Where your natural gifts and graces are influenced by people who have gone before you professionally and are spiritually healthy?  Where you don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to building the best practices of professional ministry in YOU to bring back to your own church?  When you can take everything you learn over a couple of days and implement it on Monday morning? When this event is ongoing, meaning a Friday/Saturday in the fall and a Friday/Saturday in the spring, because we are in this over the long haul?

Would you go?  Would you send someone?  What else would you want to learn?  Or maybe better to ask, “What do you need to know RIGHT NOW?”