In many church and clergy circles, part-time is considered the "kiss of death," the dreaded sign that the church has thrown in the towel and is circling the drain, trying to squeeze out a few more months or years before inevitably closing its doors. It need not be so, says Jeffrey MacDonald. In this conversation, we talk about how utilizing part-time clergy can actually be a move toward vitality and growth for struggling churches, what denominations can do better to support PT clergy, and what churches and denominations owe to pastors who took on student load debt but can't find decent jobs to pay the bills.
The Rev. G. Jeffrey MacDonald helps mainline Protestant congregations develop fresh vitality without full-time clergy. He does this through service journalism, authoring books, consulting with church leaders and serving as a part-time interim pastor. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Jeff has won national awards for his religion coverage in The Christian Science Monitor, Religion News Service, Faith & Leadership and other outlets. He’s the author of Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soul and Part-Time is Plenty: Thriving without Full-Time Clergy. He lives in Swampscott, Mass.