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10 Guidelines for Doing "Outside" Ministry Work

One of the subjects I get asked about fairly often relates to the extra ministry projects I take on outside of my full-time job as the Lead Pastor of Connexus Church.

Sometimes, the plate is full: I’m heading to Australia and New Zealand to work with some great church leaders there. In addition, I just finished the final edits on a new book earlier this month. In the midst of it all, we are searching for a permanent facility for Connexus and launching a capital campaign, in addition to doing our best every weekend to creating a church unchurched people love to attend.

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I’m writing about it because:

1. The question does come up, and it’s a great question.

2. I’ve never seen another blog post on it (maybe I should read more…)

3. Lots of leaders I know in ministry and in the marketplace have more than one project on the go at a time.

I wanted to share some working guidelines I have developed with our team, and I want to learn from yours. So here are a few principles that have guided me. It’s the first time we’ve written them down, but these reflect a dialogue we’ve had going for about five years now:

1. Don’t cheat your full-time job.

My full-time calling is as a lead pastor. That is my primary calling, and it requires my full attention a minimum of 40 hours per week. As you know, it’s often a bit more than that. If you are starting to do less than a full-time job at your full-time job, you’re not doing your job. Plain and simple.

2. Do it on your own time.

All my outside work fits into my vacation time and study time as set by our board of elders, as well as evenings and weekends. Naturally, I need to balance that with family time. There is no way I could have done this level of activity ten years ago when my kids were younger. But as a dad with sons who are now 20 and 16, I have a bit of extra time on my hands while still having time for my wife and sons — it’s just a different stage of life. Your family still needs to come before outside projects though, regardless of your work.

3. Practice full disclosure with your leaders.

While this might look different in every organization, in our church, our elders know the details of all my work, including what I make doing it (not all of it pays, but as it does, they know about it). I also have regular dialogue with them and our senior leadership team at the church about the level of ministry I can take on and fulfill my responsibilities as best I can. I’ve chosen to go this route because I believe I am accountable and because I believe in their oversight of my leadership.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.