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  • I'm a creator, entrepreneur, author of DREAM YEAR, and aspiring novelist. My wife Ainsley and I live in Virginia Beach with our five kids Wyatt, Dylan, Cody, Annie & Millie

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Right on! Love it.

does this mean that you're going (back) into the pastorate?

;)

ha...

I've always wanted to be a writer and serve people in the church. So glad someone is mentioning that we have permission. Thanks!

Bootstrapping pastors, I like it. I particularly love the idea of helping pastors start businesses. I've said to friends that church planters are entrepreneurs, because they take risk to launch a product to a market. I do take issue with your statement below.

"There is a business model (a marketable book idea). There is an investor (a publisher). And there is hopefully ROI (a vacation cruise with the family courtesy of the royalties).

So Mark Driscoll is an entreprenuer. Tim Keller is an entrepreneur. John Piper is an entrepreneur. Andy Stanley is an entrepreneur. James MacDonald is an entrepreneur"

I'd agree that they are entrepreneurs for the organizations they started and grew but not because of their writings. The investment into their books not only comes from publishers but from their supporters who give to pay for the time to think, write and publicize. I certainly do not mean to say that writing a book I easy, I'm sure it's quite the opposite actually. But to say they are entrepreneurs because of their books, seems to overlook the organizations they've strarted, grown and provided leadership for.

Good stuff, Ben. Actually wrote a similar piece in Relevant last month called "Providing for Our Pipe Dreams: http://ow.ly/6N3Eg. I think we've reaching an era where the bi-vocational minister is not only beneficial but necessary. Thanks for posting!


Create Culture.

I don't disagree with the overall point that I think you're trying to make (pastors can support themselves with jobs outside of the ministry), but I take some issue with the sheen you've put on it. Your big example of being an entrepreneur is "writing a book." Super-duper. The reality of bi-vocational ministers is usually quite different. Usually it's people ministering to a poor congregation who can't afford to support a pastors salary so the pastor works another job (or two) to make ends meet for his family. As incredible as it is that there are pastors who do this, I doubt they'd like what they do being glamorized in the way you have done here. It's a hard life and requires hard (physical) work. Caring for a church while working a 9-5 is a bit different than pastoring a mega-church with a ton of staff and writing a book with your research interns. All the guys you mentioned? That's what they're doing. I agree that it's an honorable thing for a pastor to work outside of his ministry, but I don't think you've done a good job of highlighting that here.

As my friend Jim says, you're plowing in my back field.

Jonny: I think the idea is that pastors will give up on their dreams because they don't know anything other than pastoring.

It's ok for a pastor to pursue a dream while pastoring a church. You have permission for it. Don't get hung up on the book analogy. That just seems to be a common dream.

jonny, what mitch said.

and the ice cream parlor and real estate business are real examples. i have others. but i try to write as concisely as i can here.

also, i'm not content to let hard-working bivocational pastors --not be offended-- by this idea.

i grew up in the home of a bivocational pastor. i was a bivocational pastor for one year.

the point of learning to be a better farmer... of learning to be a better entrepreneur... is that it CAN and does get easier.

Gavin i'm not sure that launching a business out of strong platform makes one less of an entrepreneur. I've had the privilege of sitting in quite a few meetings with some of these people, and I can tell you they are as every much entrepreneur as they are pastor. And that's okay. That's allowed...

Healthies church I've ever been a part of was lead by the most contagious pastor I've ever been around.

Oh, and he started a bookstore/coffee shop. Now it's a chain. Now he's making 6 figures from his work.

Takes no paycheck from the church. Empowers lay-people (because he is one) to lead ministries. He's training local college students to pastor. He's a dang good husband and father.

And you won't find a blog or book or conference session lead by him. His story isn't highlighted.

I'm taking the missionary route to church planting and that's meant that I work. I've done the Wal-Mart thing, and now I'm a personal trainer.

I always intend on having a side business--we'll start our first businesses within two years--and that's meant that we have to structure our ministry in certain ways because of the time and energy required for my other job.

I think starting a business is a great idea, but you may not be able to do ministry the same way and have a business too. Do the people you know of have to structure their ministries differently?

Great points! I could not agree more. As I explore what it means to plant an organic church, house church, call it what you will church, I also find myself being a partner in 2 start-up branding and marketing agencies and an e-commerce business that looks like it's going to explode in my face in a good way. My concepts of what it means to be a pastor, leader and disciple maker have all radically shifted in the last year. I find myself even questioning if the vocation of "pastor" is even an appropriate biblical model. Again, great points.

@Ben, thanks for the response. I'm not sure what I intended to convey came across, I'm sorry for the confusion. I'm by no means advocating that the pastors you mentioned are not entrepreneurs. Actually, we completely agree on that they are. Where we diverge is that I believe they are entrepreneurs not because of their books but because of their ability to sell a people on a vision, receive funding for that vision, and successfully grow that product and ensuing organization.

A book is one example of entrepreneurship, as is a coffee shop or any variety of other revenue producing activities. I'm saying that pastors not only can be entrepreneurs, but that they already are.
_______

"I'd agree that they are entrepreneurs for the organizations they started and grew but not because of their writings. I certainly do not mean to say that writing a book I easy, I'm sure it's quite the opposite actually. But to say they are entrepreneurs because of their books, seems to overlook the organizations they've started, grown and provided leadership for."

I confess I was using books to point out that these leaders were making money on the side, which is an ok thing to do. I fear that many pastors need permission from leaders like these to think such ventures are acceptable. For better examples of pastoral entrepreneurialism, I'd point to the ice cream parlor and real estate co. Or in my case, the Whiteboard Sessions.

Adam, Who is it that you're mentioning? I'd like to connect with them.

Great stuff. I'm a youth pastor with a dream to be financially independent apart from a ministry salary. I also have a dream of opening my own restaurant or bakery.

Now I have the ammunition to go for it. Thanks for writing this!

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