Pastors are often, by nature, networkers.
We seek out people to connect with and build up, it’s what we are born to do. So I don’t know why it never occurred to me to be in a “networking group”. When I moved to NWA to take over a dying church I had a very successful networker suggest I try going to some groups to build community awareness for our congregation. I found myself at Creative Referral Network Fayetteville in hopes of building a platform to get a church that had been in the community for 50 years more recognition, to make us available to the community as a resource, and to maybe even get some people to visit. I won’t lie, one of the main things that drew me to CRN in particular was that it was free. For someone who was just getting his feet wet and didn’t have a large bankroll, it has been helpful to be able to participate without dropping hundreds of dollars a month.
However, a year and a half in, I found myself in a difficult place. The church had closed and I had to figure out what I was going to do next. While I am still searching for an opportunity to serve a church, I decided to make my long-time “hobby job” a transition job. Since 2003, I’ve been a musician in search of deals. I often find things at prices below market value or can swap and trade my way into better deals than I started with. So I found myself trying to keep my network aware that I am looking for a “real job” while at the same time broadening my outreach for my “side hustle”.
I printed up some new business cards, put together a basic website, and added all the links to the places where I sell/show my musical gear. For a basic investment of less than $100, I was up and running.
I’m not doing anything new, just doing my normal thing bigger.
It’s not easy being known for one thing and making a hard shift. While I had made the networking group aware that the church I was pastoring was closing, I didn’t really give any indication as to future plans. I had a lot of people get in touch with me about opportunities to join their network based businesses, but those were never my thing.
So one day I showed up with new cards and began my new pitch. “I want to help get the stuff you or your contacts don’t want/use anymore into the hands of people who are looking for their musical paintbrush.” I made it clear that I paid better than pawn shops or local guitar stores and just let things begin to take their course.
Most people in networking understand you have to make changes on the fly and everyone has been very supportive of the new direction. They still keep their ears to the ground for new ministry opportunities for me. I’m very grateful for my network and the people who make it up. I’m sure I would have figured things out without the network, but why? Even if you’re not from a traditional networking trade, there is value in building bridges. You never know where they might lead, could be another job, could be another career. You never know until you try.
Nathan Wainwright grew up in Illinois and met his wife in college at Western Illinois University where he got his undergrad degree. He graduated from Lincoln Christian Seminary with a MA in Church Leadership and has been a musician for 18 years. Nathan has worked as a Worship Leader, Church Planter, and Senior Pastor at churches across the country.