Churches experiencing numerical and financial decline may dread the day when they can no longer afford a full-time pastor. Freeing up funds that would go to a full-time salary sure would help the budget—maybe even enough to turn things around—but is it even possible to run effective ministries with just a half- or quarter-time professional?
Journalist and part-time pastor Jeffrey MacDonald says yes—churches can grow more vibrant than ever, tapping into latent energy and undiscovered gifts, revitalizing worship, and engaging in more effective ministry with the community.
Readers of Part-Time Is Plenty get a much-needed playbook for helping congregations thrive with a part-time ministry model. They learn to see the model in a new light: to stop viewing part-time as a problem to be eradicated and to instead embrace it as a divine gift that facilitates a higher level of lay engagement, responsibility, playfulness, and creativity.
“Perhaps ecclesial institutions, churches, and clergy will now begin to imagine a new way forward where part-time really is plenty for all parties, rather than face death. I hope so, because this is the first book I’ve read in a long time that’s made me excited about the possibilities ministry has to offer me, the church, and the world.”
—The Christian Century
“I read this book with great interest as a judicatory leader but also as someone who had a season of part-time ministry myself. Helpful and informative, with ideas to spark the imagination and stretch the soul of any reader from the person in the pew to the pastor to the judicatory or seminary, this book is one to highly recommend as we encounter, lead, and engage ministry in this fast-changing landscape for congregations and communities. This is a conversation that needs to continue beyond the pages of this book. There are more avenues to explore and more opportunities in our future than we presently imagine to get on board with what the Spirit is doing with the church.”
—Shannan Vance-Ocampo, general presbyter, Presbytery of Southern New England
“Part-Time Is Plenty can help the church today reclaim a truth our ancestors knew well: the church is not defined by whether or not it has a full-time pastor. Jeffrey MacDonald’s conviction that a renewal of lay leadership in the church can energize congregations takes us back to our roots and forward into the new thing that God is doing among us today. I believe this book will help many in the church to dream new dreams and see new visions.”
—Joan Gray, Presbyterian pastor and author of Sailboat Church
“Jeffrey MacDonald has written a parable in this book: taking assumptions about the church—and full-time clergy serving in it—and inviting the reader to reconsider what we think we know. MacDonald challenges the idea that part-time clergy service is bad news for congregations and the ordained ministers who serve them and offers examples and insights that clearly show the opposite. Part-time ministry is an opportunity for creativity and focusing on what matters most: sharing the love of God with the world. This is a very timely and extremely important look at how we are reimagining ministry across the church, and it is good news for those of us looking for signs of church renewal and revitalization.”
—Catherine Caimano, Free Range Priest
“Increasing numbers of mainline Protestant clergy are becoming part-time pastors. Jeffrey McDonald reframes this phenomenon as more than a financial necessity; it’s a God-given opportunity. Whereas many congregations think of a part-time pastor as a sign of scarcity, McDonald reminds us that the American church’s time of greatest vitality was led by part-time pastors. He gives practical advice for how pastors can move from being the sole source of pastoral care and leadership into the role of the pastoral team leader, uncovering and developing the God-given talents of the laity and leading their churches in a way that doesn’t rob the laity of their baptismal responsibility to be Christ’s church in this time and place. This is a hopeful, helpful book for such a time as this.”
—Will Willimon, United Methodist bishop; Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School; and author of Leading with the Sermon: Preaching as Leadership
“If you are depressed about the state of the church and you want to stay that way, do not read this book. You will find no commiserating or complaining here. And if you want to turn back the clock and protect the church’s past from the future, these words are not for you. But if you are ready to change your mind and be constructively challenged, read on. This book is filled with true stories of excellence and creativity that will inspire you. What I love most about this book is that the author is unapologetically excited about the new thing God is doing in the church right now. A part-time pastor himself, and a respected journalist, Jeffrey MacDonald was clearly called to write this book for just such a time as this.”
—Lillian Daniel, preacher, teacher, and author of Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To