November 7, 2006

Church Planters Working From Home

The face of the church office is changing. One pastor I worked for told me, "Even if you live next door to the church, drive your car over and park it in the parking lot." I understand where he is coming from, people need to see your car there to know someone is there, but I also know the leash this places on the pastor.

Many church planters and pastor work from home while their staff handles the office matters. I think this is a good thing, but there must still be a level of accountability and professionalism offered to those we serve and those we meet.

Matthew Stibbe has a great post about setting up a home office for work-at-home businesses. This post is a reminder that even though many church planters work out of their homes by necessity, there is still a level of professionalism and accountability required.

I worked out of my home for many years while planting my last church. Here are some things I learned:

1. Get out of the house on a regular basis. I made the mistake of spending too much time at the house. Being a people-person, I about went stir-crazy. Find ways to get out and involved in the community. I got out, but not as often as I could have.

2. Hold to a strict schedule. If we are not vigilant about our time things just slip away. If we do not force ourselves to hold sometime in a home office, have meetings at lunch and in the afternoon, and discipline our time--then really nothing gets done. Whatever your schedule, be consistent and disciplined in its implementation.

3. Have a separate area. Matthew Stibe notes this in his post, but it is worth reiterating. Have a separate area apart from the rest of your home-life. If possible have a separate room for your office or a place in the attic or something. A desk in the corner of the family room is not good for two reasons: you never really leave the office and there are way too many distractions in an area not separated from the rest of the house.

I think working from home is a strong test of a person's self-discipline and self-leadership. It took me quite some time before I could work at home efficiently. I still struggle to work from home (now more than ever because there is no separate area for my office) because of the distractions and because I like to be around people. Essentially you have to take the principles offered, integrate what you can, and do what works for you to get things done.

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