How You Can Afford to Work in the Local Church
After my year of volunteering, I needed a job that could pay the bills and keep me from moving back home. That’s when I found a position as a middle school youth minister. My initial thought was, “I can do this for two years while I figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
Over a decade later, I wouldn’t change what I do. I love youth ministry and I love working for the local church. Often I get asked, “How did you afford it considering you have a family?” The truth is that it wasn’t always easy, but it is possible.
EMBRACE THE BALANCE AND SACRIFICE
To work in any industry takes sacrifice. If you want to balance your professional and personal life, you need to communicate and know your limitations.
Do not assume that your spouse or your pastor understands what it takes to maintain balance. Some of the difficult conversations circled around:
- Working on Sundays and holidays.
- Having my spouse work full-time.
- Taking time off and changing my schedule for life change (i.e., children).
If you do not communicate about life changes, limitations, needs and expectations, it’s going to be a strain on those important relationships. In the end you won’t please anyone and you could risk losing everything.
To help you with the balance, talk to youth ministers that have traveled the path before you. Ask them to pray with you and to help you have the important conversations.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PROFESSIONAL WORTH
A big mistake I made early on in ministry was assuming that I was owed a salary based on life choices like marriage, home ownership and children. While God was calling me to pursue those paths, it didn’t mean the church had to fund them.
Your worth as a youth minister is based off of the work you do. To understand your professional worth you should:
- Look at the average income of a youth minister in your area.
- Evaluate what you bring to the organization and overall performance.
- Know the financial limitations of your parish.
Most churches want to pay their employees fairly. When you go to them to talk about salary, keep the emotion out and focus on what’s fair. When you assume that you are owed a certain salary based on season of life, you’ll only find frustration.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE INTANGIBLE BENEFITS
Working in a local church isn’t all about sacrifice. There are people who care about you and want you to succeed. You just need to know how to tap into those benefits.
Invest in your volunteers like they are family. Pour into them and they will pour into you. The more time you spend relationally investing in those around you, the more you will find opportunities to be blessed by the local church.
TRUST GOD WITH THE JOURNEY
If you feel called to be married and serving in the local church then you have to trust God. He will provide you with a plan and with what you need. To build that trust it means spending time with Him and surrounding yourself with people who will remind you that He is on your side.
Making youth ministry (or any ministry position) a viable career is possible. It takes work, commitment and sacrifice. Again, if God is calling you down this path, He will provide you with what you need.
What has helped you endure the long haul of ministry?