Encouragement For New “Working Priests” | The Practical (Part 2)

The goal of Part 1 of this article is to encourage Vineyard pastors who may now find themselves holding or seeking a second job outside of their church. We refer to these pastors as Vineyard Working Priests. Here in Part 2, I offer some practical advice to give you hope.


Aaron Peterson

Pastor, The Hub Vineyard Church



Click here to read Part 1.

Embrace Your Story

No matter why, if you have found yourself in a new role as a Vineyard Working Priest, own it! There is no reason to hide.

This is 2021 and there is no guilt or shame in earning an income outside of the church you pastor. The research shows that there are four main reasons why Vineyard pastors derive an income beyond their local ministry.

First, as more pastors approach retirement age they are realizing they will need to work a job after they stop pastoring their church. Consequently, many “pre-retirees” secure part time jobs as a strategy to prepare for their post-pastoring future.

The second group of Vineyard Working Priests are leaders who moved to a town and planted a church while working another job. These working priests discovered that over the years it was just better for them and the church to remain a working priest.

The third and largest group of Vineyard Working Priests are families who’s planting theology and missional strategy inspire them to pastor and work another job with no desire to ever quit their second job.

Fourthly, due to global Covid Pandemic and the subsequent economic effects, many pastors are now Vineyard Working Priests. This is okay. You are okay!

Tell your story. The old mid-century-modern business model of planting a church and growing it large enough so a pastor could be its CEO has been found to be no longer helpful. Then obviously 2020 created another huge pivot. You have your journey of following Jesus into your current situation. It is God’s story and yours.  Have confidence in your friendship with Jesus. Accept and embrace it, and like all good news, share it others.

Over Communicate

Once you welcome your current narrative, it will be easier to communicate with those around you. Regardless of the reason, working a second job will require you to make some adjustments to your schedule. These changes need to be communicated to your family, your church, and your Vineyard Area and Regional Leaders.

If you are married, it is essential that you and your spouse talk about what is happening. Most likely your partner has a job as well and will understand the situation; but now is the time for renewed discussions regarding boundaries, date nights, and other family matters. If you have children, explain to them in age-appropriate ways what is happening. Remember, your children are resilient and look up to you as their hero (because you are!), so no need to feel like a failure.

Churches do better when leadership over-communicates what is happening. Becoming a Vineyard Working Priest means a huge change in your time and energy. This needs to be shared with the church because everyone’s expectations will have to be re-negotiated. It is important to be direct and explain what you can and can no longer be and do because you work another job. This is fair and the people in your church will respect you. It’s also time to learn some new delegation skills and do a deep dive into our great Vineyardism: “Everybody gets to play!”

It’s important to communicate with your Area and Regional Leaders as their job is to pray for you and care for you. Remember, of course, their roles are mainly volunteer which places them on the working priest spectrum too. This also means that they are most likely feeling a huge time and energy crunch lately too. However, there are things Vineyard leadership can do to help you. For example, something as simple as changing the monthly area meeting time to accommodate Vineyard Working Priests can have giant positive repercussions for working priests’ relationships and area camaraderie.

Seek Help

Even though for many in our Movement, the concept of being a Vineyard Working Priest is still new, we have made significant progress with making room for those of us who are called to serve Jesus full time inside and outside the local church. Here are three specific things you can pursue today.

1. Join the Vineyard Working Priest Facebook Group (Private).

This newly created group is designed as a space for you to tell your story and be encouraged by the stories of other Vineyard Working Priests.  The next step is for us to start developing resources specifically for Vineyard Working Priests.

2. This summer (2021), apply for Vineyard Pastor Care/The Well-being of Pastors Initiative.

These 2-year long cohorts are designed to increase the wellbeing of Vineyard Working Priests. Cohort members receive a spiritual director, coach, and mentor.

3. Consider joining Flourishing Leaders.

As a strategic ministry partner with Vineyard USA, Flourishing Leaders is quickly morphing into both a natural next step for those who have gone through the Bi-vocational Well-being of Pastors Initiative cohort and an alternative for those who desire to be in a well-being cohort but were unable to previously participate.

As you can see, we have come a long way as a Movement regarding our bi-vocational pastors. It’s also clear we still have a long way to go. You can help. We have a saying in Uganda, “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

I want to invite you to join in the journey of Vineyard Working Priests and help take our Movement further down the road. Let’s connect.

Click here to read Part 1.

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Aaron Peterson servers as the pastor of the Hub Vineyard Church and the mentor for the Bi-vocational Affinity Group of VUSA’s Well-being of Pastors Initiative, while also teaching Social Science at the local high school.  He has researched and studied bi-vocational pastors in the Vineyard and other denominations. His dissertation written for the Portland Seminary explores ways the Vineyard can better care for her working priests.