So You Want to Leave Full-Time Ministry…


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If I had to guess, it’s about once every couple of weeks. That’s how often I get contacted by someone who wants to leave full-time ministry to do what I do. I’m honored. Really, I am.

What I do is very rewarding. Our team has also been very blessed. Over the next two months, we’ll be on the ground working with about 40 different churches in communities all across the country. If we can help those churches experience sustained health, the lives of thousands of people could be impacted for eternity. That’s a great calling.

That said, I’m going to try to talk you out of doing what I do. Here’s why.

You probably won’t be able to pay your bills.

If my experience is normal, it takes years to develop a client base to produce enough income to support a family. Because of that, Emily and I had to pinch pennies for decades to have money to fund our start up. In other words, we had cash in the bank to put food on the table when churches weren’t calling me. I had to work another part-time job for several years before I could take the leap to full-time consulting. I also don’t believe in going into debt to launch a business or ministry. That’s a recipe for disaster since the odds are stacked against you that the business will even make it past the first five years.

You don’t have a marketing platform to generate new business.

I built my practice on top of an existing content platform (blog, social media, coaching, teaching, books, etc.). That existed for about ten years before I launched The Unstuck Group. Most of our engagements come from that foundation. I don’t know how to become get into this without a platform. I’m guessing others have done that, but I don’t have any experience with that route.

You don’t know how to run a business.

But I do, because I have two business and administration degrees and a decade of marketplace experience that preceded my time in ministry. I probably spend less than a third of my time consulting. The rest of my time is spent building and leading a team, operating a business, generating content, selling our services, etc. Running a business is very complex. As an example, we have to register in every state where we engage business and then file annual reports and tax returns in every one of those states. I’m one of my tax accountant’s favorite customers. Doing this isn’t as easy as picking a name and launching a website.

You won’t be able to find enough paying customers.

I’ve had people contact me thinking they have a business model because they’ve been able to convince two or three of their friends to let them come consult at their church. Eventually you’ll run out of friends. At that point, you’ll need something that offers value to potential customers. You’ll need a cost-effective marketing strategy to generate leads. Out of those leads, you’ll be lucky if a quarter of them buy what you’re selling. Then you’ll have to charge them enough so that you can turn a profit. By the way, you’ll be working for churches. Churches don’t generally have money just sitting around waiting to jump in your pocket for your services.

You’re not willing to make the sacrifice needed to build a team.

Because you’ll eventually need a team to sustain your business. I need Tiffany, Mark, Amy, Jacinta, Sara, and others to do the things I can’t do. I need Michael, Paul, Sarah, Tammy, and the rest of the team to be in the churches I can’t be in. I need Paula, Chase, Viviana and other strategic partners to help provide specialized knowledge and experience in areas we can’t afford to add to the team. Every one of those people needs to be recruited, hired, on-boarded, trained, coached, and cared for. And that’s all on top of the laws and regulations that are in place in every state for every employee and contractor that you add to the team. Our government doesn’t make it easy to add jobs. Trust me.

You won’t create systems that can be consistently repeated.

We want every church we serve to have the same high-quality experience. As an example, we don’t wait for a church to tell us what they need to get healthy. Instead, we have a four-phase process that we use with every church that addresses these basic questions: How are we doing? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? To support that strategy, we use the same systems involving over 100 actions steps for every church client we serve. That’s the only way we can deliver the same quality experience to the 40 different churches we’ll be in over the next two months.

By the way, you may be thinking this, “Tony is just trying to talk me out of being a church consultant because he doesn’t want any more competition.” If so, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?! Competition? First of all, there are about 300,000 churches in the United States. We’re only going to be in 40 of them in the next two months. 40. That’s it.

Secondly, what I do is ministry. The government treats it like a business for taxes. (Lots of taxes in case you were wondering.) I have to make money like a business to pay the 20 people on my team. But what I do is help churches get healthy so that they can help reach more people for Jesus. Because of that, we need more groups that help churches get healthy. In fact, if your church is stuck and you don’t want to work with us, consider this team or this team or this team or this team. I don’t have competitors. I have friends in ministry who are also trying to help churches experience health and reach more people for Jesus.

I only have two reasons that I’m trying to convince you not to become a church consultant.

The first I’ve already addressed. I don’t think you’ll succeed as a church consultant. The odds are against you.

Look at it this way. You can’t deny the way God has wired you up. If you are like me, spending any length of time operating outside of your natural wiring will either lead to stress or boredom. It’s important that you figure out what God wired you up to do. But…and this is a really important “but”…you also need to find someone who will pay you money to do what you’re wired to do. You need both.

Money without a role that fits your strengths is just a job. Jobs don’t provide fulfillment. A role that fuels how God has wired you up without the money that will support your family is just a hobby. Hobbies don’t pay the bills.

The second reason I’m trying to convince you not to become a church consultant is that there are people in your life who are without hope. They don’t have purpose. Their marriages are falling apart. They’re struggling raising their kids. They’re wrestling with addictions. They don’t like their jobs. They’re isolated without any real friendships. They need Jesus.

Because of that, they need YOU to be on mission for Jesus. They need YOU to pastor and lead a healthy church that will make a difference in their lives. They need YOU to live out the calling that God put in YOU. Oh yeah, I know. That’s hard work, too. But God has prepared you for that journey just like he prepared me for my journey.

Let’s make a deal. You be you. I’ll be me. And when you contact me because you want to leave full-time church ministry to start helping other churches, I can promise you this—I’m going to try to talk you out of it.

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