After doing engineering and selling software all over the world, God led me into full-time ministry. I became a College Pastor then an Executive Pastor and then took another leap into full-time mission ministry. So I have been in “full-time ministry” for 15 years.
A part of my ministry right now is coaching other people as they consider full-time ministry.
So naturally, many people ask me how it works to go from a “regular” job to full-time ministry. I get this question a lot. Here are some conversations I have had recently:
A business man with a family felt led into ministry, but wonders how it works. He said,
“It seems like a big risk to just quit my job and go into ministry. Is that what you did? What if it does not work? I need to provide for my family.”
A young husband and software sales guy has seen God use him powerfully when he teaches the Bible. His community around him affirms his gift in this. He has a vision for ministry of him teaching big crowds. He has a heart for students. He asked,
“Where do I start? I have an idea of what I want to do, but I have not seen a job description or organization that fits this exactly.”
A former police officer has seen the brokenness in his community. He has a heart for the community and is currently serving his community with a nonprofit. I had coffee with him and the people in the picture above this week. He said,
“I have always been insterested in ministry. I feel like God has prepared me for this. Do you have any advice in pursuing ministry?”
Maybe you have wondered about these topics yourself.
Or if you know people thinking about full-time ministry, please share this blog post with them.
Here are some steps on how to start small and then step into full-time ministry.
1. Start doing the ministry now.
If you are not already doing some version of the ministry you are dreaming of, then now is the time to start. You don’t need a position. You don’t need an organization. You don’t need authorization.
You already have authorization. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples… baptize them… teach them… and I will be with you.”
So just start doing what you have a heart to do.
Often people share with me a big vision for what they will do in ministry. I love big vision. I love big dreams. If you have a big vision like speaking to a huge room of students, what is the smaller version of that? Maybe teaching 6 students in your living room.
Even if your vision is to impact hundreds or thousands of people or a whole nation, let’s start with four people and see what happens.
2. Sharpen your ministry.
Once you start doing the grassroots face to face ministry, several things will happen. You will start to sharpen your skills in ministry. You will likely change and improve what you are doing. Things will get better.
This is also a great test of whether this ministry is actually a good fit for you or not. I have seen people plan a certain career in ministry and then do it for year and find out they don’t really like it. This is a huge win to discover this.
Discovering what is not a fit is an important step in understanding what ministry is a fit for you! God has given you unique gifts and personality and experiences. You have a unique gift to give the world. Now you get to find out what that is. I wrote a blog post on how to find your unique work in this world.
When you find the ministry that is a good fit for you and start doing it, next you will want to…
3. Find a mentor.
Find a mentor in the area of ministry that you are pursuing. This could be a local mentor, but often the person is further away. So look broad if needed.
This person is a few steps further down the road you are interested in. Learn where the potholes are so you can go around them.
4. Maximize your free time.
After you start doing your ministry, sharpen your skills, and have a mentor coaching you in your ministry, things will likely be having a positive impact on people’s lives! Yay! This is why you have a heart for this ministry.
As people’s lives are being transformed, you will likely get more opportunity for ministry. You will get busier in the work.
You are now spending much of your free time doing this ministry and it is working. It is bearing fruit, and you are out of spare time to devote to it.
This is the time to consider stepping into full-time ministry!
Seek God’s guidance. Get your mentor and the wise ones in your community involved in this decision.
Are they affirming your step into the ministry?
5. Start a nonprofit or join a nonprofit.
Starting a nonprofit is far easier than you think it is. I can show you how.
There are also many stellar nonprofits you can join.
6. Raise the funds to do the work full-time.
All nonprofits (and churches) raise the funds for the work they are doing. This is normal in our culture, and we have some wonder direction from the Bible on how this work. So don’t let this be a barrier to you.
At this point in the process, you have a track record of success. You have transformed lives to talk about. You have a mentor and community that are affirming your direction. You are connected to a nonprofit.
Now you are ready to cast vision to people and build a team of partners in the work. I can help you with this step too.
As you see partners joining and the work being funded, then it is time…
You transition smoothly into full-time ministry!
This is not a big scary leap into the unknown. You have done the work. It is bearing fruit. People believe in it. They want to see you do it with the peak hours of your day instead of just nights and weekends.
Stepping into ministry is not about quitting your job or school and then trying to figure out what is next. You don’t have to bet the farm on this.
You can try the ministry, improve at it, validate the idea, and then step in smoothly. You will be thankful for a smooth process. The people you serve will be thankful too.
Let me know how I can help.