Reality CheckA number of years ago I went from being a full time pastor/church planter to bi-vocational breakfast cook at a popular local diner and have learned so much about community and how people depend on that place as a vital connection point outside of their home and workplace. Five years later and I'm seen as more than the guy who cooks their eggs and pancakes, but have become a part of the scenery. Chatting daily with the customers, who are mostly regulars, has been a tremendous way for me to develop my own spiritual gifts in a real, every day place. This opportunity has also allowed me to utilize 25+ years of cooking experience in an effort to support my family.
I had reached a crisis point in my life and call to ministry and had been convicted of the reality of having to support my family, along with knowing at the core of my being that we (my family and me) are where God has called us to be. A second reality was the lack of support I had managed to attract to my own church planting/church restart venture. My wife and I had been called to restart a dying (dead but didn't know it) independent Baptist church and it was what appeared to be (to us and everyone else) a grim situation. But I believed back in 2005 and still believe today that God does not make mistakes. He calls and we follow. We go and he provides...simple as that, right? Well it's not always visibly clear, but if we remain faithful and obedient, and dig in deep, especially when it seems like there is no other way, the visible signs that will validate our call to ministry will become clearer. What will become even more obvious is the fact that God has not set us up for failure and in the end it is Him that will be glorified, and it is the people we are ministering to on a daily basis that will be the marks of our success. What better way to meet your neighbors than to work along side of some of them and serve them daily.
I say this not only to defend my own need to work outside of the church to support myself and my family, but to testify to those who are where I've been; it's okay, even to your advantage and for the success of your ministry, marriage and family life, to work outside of the church. Paul often worked as a tentmaker. Along with working in the community, might I suggest enrolling your children in the local public school? This gives you access to 90% of the families who live in the community, and serving on school committees, PTA and other activities gets you involved in that community and says to your neighbors that you are there to serve with them. Involve your kids in local community activities; sports, scouting, 4H, etc. This has been such a boost to our success in ministry.