Episode 018 – Rich Avery shepherds pastors toward enhanced purpose

Welcome to Episode 18 of the Passionate Purpose podcast where we interview people over 50 who are pursuing new direction for their lives. It’s an opportunity for men and women to tell their stories, their way, in their own words. I’m Greg Gerber, the founder of Forward From 50 and your host for today’s show.

Forward From 50 has featured some incredible stories of men and women whose lives have gone in completely different directions after passing their 50th birthdays. Rich Avery is different.

He knew early in his life what his purpose was and he hasn’t deviated much from that. For many years, Rich served as a pastor. Now he helps other pastors prepare for the future by pursing business ideas that create income or expand their sense of purpose.

He entered the ministry when he was 26 years old after working to raise money for a non-profit organization. He loved the job and the people he worked with. Still, Rich had a gnawing feeling he was made to do something else.

Instead of attending a seminary, Rich jumped into full-time ministerial training by doing crisis intervention with local homeless people. He spent half his time working at church caring for families in need, and the rest of his time on the street caring for people who had given up on life.

In 2019, Rich’s church offered him a sabbatical to rest, reflect and contemplate what his life would look like the following year after he turned 50. The church gave him a stipend to invest in personal development and to enjoy some time with his family.

So, Rich booked a cruise organized by Dan Miller, who authored the book “48 Days to the Work You Love.” The cruise combined time off in the Caribbean with teaching and personal growth counseling.

One thing Rich and his wife, Candace, talked about was whether he should wait until he was 65 and retired before jumping into some new ideas, or start now to begin living out the next chapter in their lives while they still had energy to pursue it.

When his sabbatical concluded, Rich was inspired to pursue a new direction related to his lifelong calling, but different enough to challenge him in new ways. He felt drawn to help pastors prepare for what will be a new way of doing church.

There were already a number of social, cultural and economic trends influencing the American church before COVID arrived; however, that situation simply magnified problems churches had been ignoring for years. Rich felt pastors needed to brace for a fundamental shift in the way churches would operate and, especially, how ministry staff would be paid in the future.

For much of the post-World War II era, pastoring a church was a full-time job for many men who were paid directly from church coffers. As a result, pastors were expected to devote their full attention to leading a church and guiding members.

Yet, church attendance has fallen dramatically in the past 20 years, especially during the COVID years. In smaller congregations, tithes and offerings to support the church started to shrink. Many churches began employing dual-vocation pastors, meaning they worked part-time at the church, but also held outside jobs to help cover expenses.

Rich started a coaching business called More Than a Pastor, to help ministers prepare for the change. He launched a blog as well as a podcast and assembled resources to help pastors looking for ways to create income outside the church. He also works with people who don’t necessarily feel called to be a pastor, but still want to serve God. Many times, those people think their only option is to serve as a full-time pastor.

During the first step, people brainstorm with Rich to uncover their sweet spot which combines the right ratio of time and money. To do that, Rich employs a GPS – a plan to identify their:

  • Goals or dreams for life and what they want to accomplish.
  • Passions or experiences that get them excited and motivates them to make a bigger difference.
  • Skills and talents.

Rich explained there is a sweet spot in everyone’s life where their goals, passions and skills intersect. Then he helps them to create an opportunity around that sweet spot in order to take their lives to the next level.

For seasoned citizens, their older years are the best years to apply their skills, talent and experiences to live in their sweet spot of purpose. It doesn’t have to be huge step, such as creating an organization or even quitting a job.

A lot of times people don’t get started because their idea is too big, and that can be overwhelming. So Rich says to start small. He said there are thousands of businesses you can launch with little or no money. You don’t need to get a building and hire five employees to get it off the ground. If there has been an idea burning within you for a while, then talk to people you trust about it. Take baby steps to get it going.

To connect with Rich, visit www.morethanapastor.com.

That’s all I have for this week’s show. If you’d like help in identifying a purpose for your life or to get help planning your next steps, I’m offering a complimentary brainstorming session to members of the Forward From 50 Facebook community. For details, connect with me on Facebook or visit www.forwardfrom50.com.

Next week, I will be talking to a man who walked away from a 9-to-5 job to start a business of his own working with companies to improve their corporate culture. I’ll have that interview on the next episode of the Passionate Purpose podcast. Thanks for listening. If you like this show, please consider leaving a review wherever you download the episodes.