Posted on 5 Comments

25 Alternative Income Sources for Youth Workers

Most of us in youth ministry pour 100% of our passion into a job that pays about 75% of our family’s needs.

There’s a lot of factors that make this true:

  • There’s more supply of highly qualified, experienced youth workers than there is demand for those skills. This holds salaries back.
  • Without agreed upon professional standards there’s little way to move up in salary over time.
  • Speaking of education, I’m meeting more and more youth workers buried in education debt. A sluggish salary while being dogged by debt forcing me to always look for ways on how to make $5000 fast?
  • Youth ministry employment remains fluid. While the old adage that a youth worker moves every 18 months has never really been true, youth workers do frequently move compared to their peers in other professions. Moving is expensive, making it harder and hard to build equity in a home or long-term savings in an IRA/401k.

I meet a lot of youth workers who will quietly confess that they are close, but not quite, comfortable in their salary. An additional $500 per month would be the difference for their family.

Here’s my suggestion: Join the 13.2 million Americans who moonlight a little on top of their full-time job.

Benefit #1: There’s a lot of opportunities out there for the skills most youth workers have. Lots.

Benefit #2: While you might first wince at the idea because you’re ministry job keeps you busy as it is, moonlighting is going to actually help you work better at your full-time job.

You just might learn a dirty little secret: Making yourself less available actually increases your value in an organization.

25 Alternative Income Sources for Youth Workers

The sharing economy is perfect for youth ministry folks… we have so many marketable skills!

Here’s 25 freelance gigs that a lot of youth workers could do to earn the pay gap between what their family needs and what their church salary pays.

  1. Substitute teaching (Credential required in many locations)
  2. Academic tutoring
  3. Sports coaching
  4. Personal trainer / fitness coach / weight loss buddy
  5. Uber, Lyft driver
  6. Graphic design
  7. Event planning, production (small business events, local organizations, charitable events, etc)
  8. Small business project management, bookkeeping, other limited role (credentials may be needed)
  9. Catering (either as a provider or server)
  10. Fill-in bartender, barista, etc. (a shift or two a week)
  11. Small business marketing (create flyers, brochures, graphics, manage social media, etc)
  12. Manage websites (add content, edit content, update plugins, etc)
  13. Create an Etsy shop
  14. Do small creative tasks on Fiver
  15. List your guest room on Airbnb
  16. Manage other people’s Airbnb or VRBO properties (create listings, manage payments/contracts, greet guests, arrange cleaning services, repairs, etc)
  17. Do small projects on Upwork (formerly Elance)
  18. Petsitting, boarding in your home, dog walking
  19. Sell stuff on Ebay (convert a hobby, passion into a specialty niche)
  20. Collect and sell used books on Amazon. (people will give you used books, trust me)
  21. Handyman services (small projects, repairs, landscaping, painting, etc)
  22. Adventure travel (take a group canoeing, backpacking, kayaking)
  23. Wedding planner, coordinator
  24. Minister for hire (weddings, funerals, etc.)
  25. Become a notary public

Consider this a starter list. The reality is that there are hundreds of opportunities for you to make that little bridge amount of money to stay in youth ministry for the long haul. Share your ideas in the comments!

Want help working on this? Contact me and buy an hour of my time. (See, that’s #26 right there.)

Posted on 5 Comments

5 thoughts on “25 Alternative Income Sources for Youth Workers

  1. Big fan of this. I am a full time youth pastor, and my salary is not bad, however as I get older, and the benefit of having kids becomes more of a reality – I needed to do something to gain that little bit extra. I started a landscape / snow removal company that I run with my wife, as a side business. I have learned a couple things.
    1. Youth Pastors can spend energy on living frugally. This is a gift and takes some significant amount of effort. Learning how to coupon, shop for deals, garage sales and thrift shops, cheap family swim nights, air miles, etc. which all help. I took a different approach – put your energy into making more – its less work.
    2. My business has forced me to be a better youth pastor. I value my time and others time more. I understand what it takes to make money, spend money and budget accordingly. My fundraising capacity has gone through the roof.
    3. I end up doing more ministry in my “secular” business than in my “church” work – at times. I am becoming more intentional about this.
    4. There is potential to mentor kids through a work program – teaching them in numerous areas of how faith and life collide.

    Last year I cleared as much as my salary at the church, while not robbing time from them. I work hard and smart. I think it is worth the effort.


  2. Awesome list! Just a note on notary public: it’s difficult to make much consistent money off of this. Most states (I’m a NP in Florida) have a cap on how much you can charge per notorization/document (FL for instance is $20). So there is potential there (most notorizations are maybe 20-30 minute processes at most, so great money:time ratio) but building a client base can be slightly difficult. Still, it doesn’t require a lot of work, other than cost and time testing for certification, so it’s still a great idea!

    1. Yeah, with that one I was thinking… particularly in a smaller church… people in the church could know you were a notary and bring docs to you at the office. But you are correct that the ROI per item is a lot lower than some of the others.

  3. I judged at speech and debate tournaments when I was doing youth ministry. It gave me a chance to spend time with teenagers and a chance to make a little money at tournaments. (I bet there are referee opportunities some sports tournaments, too, but that didn’t fit my skill set.)

  4. Great blog. Great list. I recently turned my hobby and other passion into a small business to supplement my salary. I’m a coffee micro-roaster. I started out selling it to friends and even had a small local farmer’s market carrying my coffee, and launched a shopify site this fall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *