Toolbox #6: The Challenges of Tentmaking

Your weekly dose of inspiration, resources, and insights designed for bivocational pastors and church leaders.

Hey Tentmakers!

I must begin by raising my hand and admitting that I've kept you waiting for our newsletter a tad longer than usual. The past couple of weeks have been a blend of challenges and learning experiences, but here we are, back on track!

In our last conversation, we explored some of the benefits of tentmaking. Today, we're diving deeper into a topic that resonates with many of us: the challenges that come with being a bivocational pastor.

While tentmaking presents its fair share of advantages, it's equally essential to shed light on the hurdles and how to navigate them.

Without further ado, let's jump in.


⛺️ The 3 Big Challenges of Tentmaking

1 - Limited Time

For most bivo/covo pastors, this is THE struggle.

While I own my business and have some flexibility in my schedule, many bivocational pastors tethered to more traditional 9-5 jobs are stretched thin and simply do not have enough time to balance everything.

I’ve been there. And it’s no fun.

And here’s the thing: bivocational pastors often have the same responsibilities as full-time pastors. Sermon prep, counseling sessions, admin, leadership meetings, small groups, etc.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Parkinson’s Law: work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.

In other words, if you allow 8 hours per week for a specific task, say sermon prep, it will probably take you that long (or longer).

But what if you could accomplish

I’m certainly not speaking for all pastors or churches here, but I do think there’s a lot wasted time and “busy work” in many ministry roles to justify a full-time salary.

2 - Unhealthy Church Culture

My journey of planting a church provided a fresh start, where most of our staff, like me, are bivocational.

But I've had conversations with many pastors over the last few years who grapple with reluctant leaders in more traditional settings.

And honestly it baffles me how so many churches expect their pastors to lead full-time without providing a livable wage. Many of these churches do not allow side-hustles or part-time work.

Asking those in ministry to choose between serving their congregations or providing for thier families is unfair, and is causing

Paul highlights the importance of this to Timothy:

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:8

I heard of a pastor recently who had a 5-10 hour per week side-hustle that allowed his wife to stay home and be more present with their 3 kids.

But the church board felt it was “distracting” to his ministry role. So they fired him.

I guess they would have fired Paul too.

Here’s my encouragement: If you’re on staff at a church that is causing you to choose between supporting your family or serving in ministry, and they are unwilling to adjust their expectations or your compensation, you should strongly consider leaving.

3 - The Emotional Toll

This might be the most understated challenge, yet it weighs heavily. The emotional strain of balancing pastoral duties with another job is real.

Beyond the physical fatigue, there's a mental and emotional exhaustion that accumulates.

Feelings of being stretched thin, the constant gear-switching, and the desire to excel in both roles—it's a silent burden.

It's not just about managing time but managing emotions and energy, ensuring neither role drains the passion and vigor needed for the other.


So What’s the Solution?

Schedule Downtime & Rest: Prioritizing self-care isn’t selfish—it’s necessary and it’s how God has wired us.

Just as I block off time for sermon prep or meetings, I've learned to carve out moments to work on myself mentally, physically, and spiritually.

These could be short daily periods or longer breaks, but they're crucial to recharge and rejuvenate.

Support Systems: I can't stress enough the importance of having a trusted circle—be it family, close friends, or fellow pastors—who understand the unique pressures of a bivocational role.

Their encouragement, understanding, and just a listening ear have been invaluable in my own life.

Boundaries: Lastly, setting boundaries is essential. This means being clear with both my church and my clients about my availability, ensuring that I'm not overextending myself.

It's also about transparently communicating my bivocational role to the church, helping them understand that while my commitment to them is unwavering, there are times when I need to prioritize my well-being to serve them better in the long run.

💻 Links & Resources

Holy Hustle Podcast: I was recently interviewed on Alejandro Reyes’ podcast. You can check out that interview here.

🚀 How I Can Help?

Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways for us to work together:

  1. Join our Free FB Group: You don't have to go it alone. Tap into the wisdom of our community with over 2700 like-minded individuals navigating the same journey.

  2. Check out my free training: “The Digital Tentmaking Blueprint That's Helping Pastors Earn Extra & Give Back Their Salaries”

  3. Promote your business to 9500+ pastors and church leaders by sponsoring this newsletter. Contact me here.

What did you think about today's newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.