Free Range Priest

It's time to create the future of church

Fr. Cathie Caimano

Yes, I go by 'Father' - but you can call me Cathie or just your Free Range Priest.I've been an Episcopal priest for over two decades, and since 2016 I've been reimagining ministry with more Gospel and fewer meetings!Seriously, it's time to stop doing the same things over and over and believing we'll stop the decline of the institutional church.I know there are ways to serve God and our neighbor and not get bogged down in all the stuff of church that is not working the way it once did (in the mid-20th century).I know there are ways to thrive in ministry - financially, spiritually, and organizationally - and build the future of church today.I know there are ways to get more ministry JOY.I know because I live them and serve them.Come serve with me.

You don't have to be a 'tech person'

...just be a 'church person'!

The digital revolution changed everything -
including ministry.
But many of us feel unequipped to face the rapid changes in technology, and how to best use today's tools and platforms for sharing Good News.There are SO many new tools and platforms that can make our ministry easier and more efficient......like making the bulletin easier to produce and distribute... like being able to communicate more efficiently and affordably with our members.... like knowing if someone has a crisis in the middle of the night, they will know how to connect with a caring voice .

If you want to expand your digital skills and make ministry easier and more effective...

Subscribe to 'Notes from the Future of Church' - it's a monthly coaching session, delivered right to your inbox.
and it's just $5/month

Full-time work for part-time pay?

...not with Sustainable Part-time!

There has to be a better way to serve - and be compensated for - part-time ministry service.There has to be a better way for congregations to get the ministry they need and can afford, and clergy to be able to serve in multiple places and ways without being overwhelmed.There is a better way!Sustainable part-time makes lay and ordained leaders partners in ministry. Instead of the clergy being 'in charge', they serve in a consultant role to support the ministry of the congregation.Clergy serve task-based contracts rather than doing 'everything' and 'always' being at the church (and making all the decisions).It takes reaimagination. It takes boundaries. But Sustainable part-time supports small (and larger) congregations and clergy ministry in the digital age.

If you want to learn how to thrive in part-time ministry ...

Subscribe to 'Notes from the Future of Church' - it's a monthly coaching session, delivered right to your inbox.
and it's just $5/month

The Institution outside the box

Institutions don't change. People do.

For people who work for institutions, it can be hard to serve in a rapidly changing landscape.Trying new ways of supporting congregations and clergy may feel impossible on top of everything else that needs to be done.The Good News: maybe everything doesn't have to get done!The priorities of the digital age and the rapid decline of the church offer opportunities to put lots of things down for the moment (maybe longer).This also opens up many new ways of supporting creative ministry as it emerges, even from unlikely places.

If you're ready to think outside the box - and find exciting new possibilities there...

Be in touch

Free Range Priest offers short-term consulting, virtual clergy events, and sustainable part-time ministry training. Let's talk about how we can reimagine church together...

Let's call it 'Creative Ministry'

We live in the era of startups, small businesses, and side gigs.We're called to ministry in a world where we can meet with therapists on our phones and order a self-driving taxi.What does this mean for ministry?It means that evangelism might look like joining the creative explosion of service-based businesses, often as solopreneurs.It's not just about money (although we definitely need to talk about sustainability). It's about harnessing the tools and concepts of the time we live in now to reach more people with the love of God.It's about serving alongside the institutional model - sometimes literally, serving part-time in a congregation and part-time in a creative ministry.It's about how God is calling us into the future of church.

If you're ready for a hand figuring out this new path to ministry ...

Subscribe to 'Notes from the Future of Church' - it's a monthly coaching session, delivered right to your inbox.
and it's just $5/month

We're all small churches now

The average Sunday attendance in mainline Christian churches is around 50.75% of people attend 15% of congregations. That means that most people attend big churches, but most churches are small.And even if, numerically, we have twice or three times 50 people in our pews on Sunday, we're still dealing with the effects of institutional decline and the rapidly changing religious landscape.The great thing about being small church is being cutting edge. Most people laugh when I say this!But it's true.Small churches have been learning creative ways to share the Gospel and support religious community for decades!They're resilient, adaptable, and open to change (yes, really!). They're bastions of mature lay leadership and ministry. They're serving God and their neighbors in inspiring ways.The future of church means taking what we've learned from small churches and applying it in new ways:... how we reimagine clergy and congregations serving together
... how we reimagine sustainability
... how we reimagine digital ministry in a very traditional context
and more!

If you're ready to learn the secrets of thriving small church ministry...

Subscribe to 'Notes from the Future of Church' - it's a monthly coaching session, delivered right to your inbox.
and it's just $5/month

Hearts on Fire Spiritual Practices

We need to talk about money

The church is struggling financially.Most clergy serve part-time because most congregations cannot afford a full-time salary with benefits.Lots of congregations worry about their budget and stewardship.Lots of ministers work in the secular world in order to support their ministry (and their families).Many ministers have brilliant plans and ideas for creative ministry, but can't figure out how they will pay their bills and grow their communities at the same time.Plenty of people think ministers shouldn't be paid at all!And many of us struggle with the whole concept of spirituality and money.No wonder Jesus talked about money so much!But we can't get to a thriving future of church without the courage to look clearly at new ways of making ministry sustainable.P.S. Sustainability is also talking about clergy burnout and healthy boundaries (working all the time is not getting us ahead, in any way)!

If you're ready to learn how to thrive spiritually and financially...

Subscribe to 'Notes from the Future of Church' - it's a monthly coaching session, delivered right to your inbox.
and it's just $5/month

Live into the Future of Church

Live into the Future of Church

Find ministry joy and sustainability in a time of uncertainty

A 12-month email course for reimagining how we do church: the 'stuff' that comes with mid-20th century institutional and administrative mindset.So you can get to more of the why: sharing the love of God and the Christian faith; bringing others to the light, and light to the world.You'll learn:

  • Why it's time to stop waiting for the institutional church for help

  • How to own your ministry - literally, or as a mindset change

  • What you're really doing in your ministry, and who you're serving

  • How to serve sustainably and let go of guilt and fear around money and ministry

Whether you're lay or ordained, congregational or entrepreneurial , just starting in ministry or well-established, this self-paced course will help you reimagine bringing Good News to others in creative and sustainable ways.

Live into the Future of Church opens January 15, but you can sign up anytime and get a new lesson every 30 days for one year.The email course is just $5/month, with opportunities to add 1-1 coaching time when you need it
and to apply to the Ministry Innovator Program to grow and develop your entrepreneurial ministry.

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Thoughts on church, reimagining ministry, and life as a Free Range Priest.
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Say hi!

I'd love to be in touch! Please send me a message and let me know about your ministry and how I can help you.

The Road to church change goes by the parish administrator's desk

The role of the parish administrator is changing - maybe not in the ways we think.

There's one person who is always in the middle of church change: the parish administrator.She used to be called the 'church secretary'. She's definitely not always a 'she' today. She may not always be paid (though she should be). If she is, it's probably quarter or half-time in today's church.Whatever the situation, the parish administrator is the heart of the congregation. They know where everything is, have been there longer than the pastor (and maybe longer than the pastor has been alive), and are generally trusted and beloved by all.And when it comes to church change - especially change that involves technology - this may be very hard on the parish administrator. It may cause fear, stress, and pushback.What often holds congregations back from upgrading their systems and being more present online is 'who is going to do this work?'.

Clergy often don't want to take on digital ministry, and parish administrators often feel unprepared.

There's a lot of fear around this topic. Will the congregation be held back from making necessary administrative, organizational, and communications changes? Will the parish administrator lose their job because they cannot or will not take on systematic changes to how ministry is done? Will this kind of change cause conflict or hurt feelings?Mostly, this keeps us stuck with 'the way we've always done it'. This may mean we're not using tools and platforms that make ministry easier and more affordable. It definitely means we're not maximizing online tools that help us connect with members, and with those who have not met us yet.This issue is not just about technology. It's about how we understand church itself, and how we've organized ourselves and gotten the business of church done for decades.And it's about people - beloved people who serve in ministry in a changing context.What to do?

Consider the parish administrator's role

Just like clergy are reimagining ministry, it may be time to think about what church staff are really called to do - including the parish administrator.In today's world, do we need someone who's job it is to answer the phone, set schedules, or mail the newsletter? Using new tools and platforms - especially those designed for small businesses - a lot of administrative tasks can either be automated or done by each staff person as needed (making/answering calls and emails, scheduling meetings, etc.).This doesn't mean the parish administrator's job is unnecessary!Quite the contrary. The administrator - along with the head priest/pastor - is often the central person around which the community forms. They may get news of births, deaths, emergencies, and big events before anyone else, so they have a pastoral role, as well as communication. They keep information flowing to the right places, and keep confidences. All of these things can (do!) happen outside of tech tools.

Father Cathie

Make tech changes with and for the administrator

Even if the main church computer is 20 years old and you're still using a dot matrix printer, once upon a time that technology was new, and required a learning curve. Email is thirty years old, and somehow most members of the staff and congregation learned to master it. So the tools may be new, but the idea that it's time to upgrade definitely isn't. The question is - what and how?Figuring out what systems need to be upgraded is one issue - one that the parish administrator surely knows! They're probably struggling with at least one system that doesn't work like it used to (formatting and printing the bulletin?), and would probably love to wave a magic wand and make it easier.The harder part is making the change without the wand!Here's where the onus doesn't need to be put on the administrator. Often it seems like they are the natural person to implement these changes - even help others with them. But that may not be their role, and that may be the source of tension.How can changes be made in collaboration with the admin but also in support? How will this make their job easier in the long run, while minimizing the difficulty of the change in the short run?

Consider contract help

One great thing about the rise of new platforms for small businesses - they work for small churches, too! Another great thing about them - they often come with excellent customer service and onboarding.Beyond this, there are people who can help. Often it is someone in the congregation with more tech or business skills, who can help implement change and work with staff until everyone is comfortable with it.And - part of the reimagination of ministry is there are those in the church world who will do this work with you! Free Range Priest offers 'Digital Ministry Rehab', to help you decide what tools you need to make your congregation's - and your parish administrator's - life easier, and sit beside you as you figure out how to implement them. Other ministers offer church website and social media help, or freelancers for specific short-term jobs. It's never been easier to get contract help for organizational change instead of hiring someone for a new position (which may not be affordable).The parish administrator is key to making this change happen, and it can (should!) support their role rather than challenging it.

©frcathiecaimano