By Sharon Mager
Kurt Wesolowski, the pastor of Parkville Baptist Church (PBC), headed south to Maryland from New York nearly five years ago, following God’s calling. He and his wife Patty were leaving a successful bi-vocational ministry, that was a blessing, but sometimes, he admits, resulted in him and Patty feeling like ships passing in the night.
At PBC, they were able to minister full time until, like many churches, PBC’s funds began to dip. The couple knew what they had to do. Kurt would once more need to supplement his income.
Now, in addition to his pastoral duties, Kurt is a service coordinator with Service Coordination, Inc., connecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to needed resources.
Wesolowski admits it’s not easy to juggle responsibilities, but he says there are benefits. For the church, Wesolowski’s outside employment helps stabilize the church’s finances. On the job, God has been opening opportunities for him to encourage other Christian co-workers, and to share the Gospel.
He is also helping his church make the adjustment after having a full-time pastor for over 30 years.
“They’ve been gracious, encouraging, and supportive across the board,” he says. He’s using the experience as part of his doctoral ministry project.
“What better practical idea than to develop a strategy to help a church transition from one model to another? I’m living it now,” he chuckles.
Paul Bachman has been working in the warehouse at Toyota for 36 years, long before he moved into his role as senior pastor of North Glen Community Church.
He averages at least 45 hours a week in the warehouse, in addition to his pastoral duties and helping his wife, Pam, take care of a house of eight (that includes four grandchildren and an infant). He’ll be the first to say, while smiling, that he can be pretty beaten down at times, but the joy of the Lord shines through.
“Sometimes I worry that Toyota gets my best time,” he says. It bothers him that he can’t do more Bible studies, prayer meetings, and visitation. And he admits that sermon preparation is always a challenge with so many demands.
Yet, God is using Bachman at Toyota in a tremendous way. When there was some conflict between management and the union, he suggested a leadership study and the senior manager surprisingly agreed and even attended along with other company management.
Bachman used John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership and shared from his own leadership experience—as a pastor!
“It was an awesome opportunity,” he exclaimed.
Later he began a prayer group/Bible study during lunch. For 15 years, Bachman has led a diverse group of Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics, and even a Mormon in prayer and Bible reading. Though the group has changed through normal attrition, it’s averaged a dozen participants. He’s become a sort of “work pastor,” he said, and he’s had the honor of praying with others over their problems, preaching funerals for their families, and even officiated at a wedding.
Josean Nater, known to most as “J.D.,” pastors Iglesia Bautista Camino de Esperanza, Easton, and Iglesia Bautista Camino de Esperanza, Cambridge, and he’s starting a new church in Wilmington, Del.
Nater started his own remodeling business, Color2day LLC, as a way to supplement his family’s income while fulfilling the demands of pastoring both congregations. Accepting jobs by contract allows him to control his time.
The flexibility is great but the variability of income as a contractor is difficult.
“I really can’t count on the business because, one month I might have three jobs and make a couple thousand, and the next month I might make nothing at all.”
God is using Nater’s position though to open many ministry doors.
“There are many Hispanics working in this line of business. Some now come to church, but others have rejected many invites and attempts I’ve made to get closer.”
He has used his flexible schedule for leadership development, and he now has two couples taking charge of some of the responsibilities within the congregation as well as be equipped to help other churches.
“This has been a test of faith. A big one,” he says.
Previously, Nater worked as a representative at a painting company where he was the boss, had a schedule and plan, made good money and bonuses.
Now, Nater and his wife, Caroline, are completely dependent on God’s faithfulness.
“Now, I have absolutely no…clue as to what I’m going to make, how I am going to pay the bills to continue living and working in ministry. My church is barely able to manage expenses… But God has never failed.”
Howard Brown is pastor of Community of Grace Fellowship, a church plant in Claymont, Del., and the owner of a sign shop called, “Shekinah Glory.” He ran the shop when he and his wife, Deborah, lived in Alabama and then he reopened it in Delaware.
He developed a passion for art while very young, earned a bachelor of arts degree in graphic design from the University of Alabama, and through the years had various art-related careers, from designer in a Sears Roebuck store to an assistant art director for Channel 6 news. Then God called him to Gospel ministry.
He and Deborah have two grown children, Kelvin and Darius, and two younger children, Ryan, now 13 and Annette, 10. The Browns fostered all of the children and then eventually adopted them.
As a bi-vocational pastor, time is always an issue, he shares, but he works hard to manage his days.
“I have to etch out time, step by step,” Brown says. He does that by allowing more than adequate time for each art project.
Since Brown is working full-time with the sign shop, church members provide additional leadership.
Brown said they also have to be creative sometimes in outreach. For example, instead of having a summer Vacation Bible School for a week, they’ll spread it out for several weekends through the summer.
Brown said he’s had many Gospel-centered conversations with both clients and employees with many responding and accepting Christ.
Kenny Heath, the Western Baptist Association’s Director of Missions, supplements his salary working 20 hours a
week at WFWM, Frostburg State University’s Public Radio station, as the assistant to the station director, hosting radio programs, overseeing public service announcements, making public appearances for the station, and even providing some administrative support.
He had to cut back on local ministries, including serving on the local National Day of Prayer planning committee, prayer walking at the local Wal-Mart and shopping mall, and hosting singalongs. He also had to reduce church visitation and eliminate traveling for state and national conferences.
“Time is the biggest issue,” Heath says. “But, the lack of it is both a challenge and a blessing… Not being on the road so much has resulted in me putting a little more time into family.
“The plus factors far outweigh the minus ones! Every day, I have at least one conversation with a staffer or student, from the President of the University on down, that leads to something positive in connecting them to Jesus and His Word. There are places and persons I might never have met in a church context, that I have an audience with, because
I’m also a ‘radio guy.’”
The salary from his radio job also helps take the pressure off of the associational salary, he says. “Together, along with (my wife) Deborah’s work and other sources of income, the Lord is taking care of us well… and enabling us to help others.”