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The Vital Connection: Full-time ministry with part-time pastors

By: Sheri Meister, executive director; Kelsey Morgan, office assistant, Dakotas UM Foundation; Jeff Pospisil, executive director, Finance and Admin.; Rev. Rebecca Trefz, executive director, Ministries, Dakotas Conference UMC,; Adam Ragels, Audio Editor

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The traditional style of worship is becoming less common as many churches have been experimenting with different techniques and practices for doing worship. Fusion Church in Mitchell, SD is one of the churches here in the Dakotas that is currently doing a unique ministry. If meeting on Dakotas Wesleyan University’s campus isn’t unique enough, Pastor Steve Trefz is serving a 180-member-plus church as only a quarter-time pastor. Jeff Pospisil, director of finance and administration, talks to Pastor Steve and Taryn Ragels, director of ministries at Fusion Church, about how this model of ministry has worked for them. 

During the transition between pastors, Fusion Church was figuring out what the vision for their ministry. Trefz, who hadn’t served in the local church for ten years, brought forward the idea of serving the church at part-time status. One of the biggest hesitations the leaders of Fusion had with going with this model was the mindset that they were more significant than this. As a church nearing 200 weekly attendees, having a pastor serving only ten hours a week didn’t seem logical. It took a while for the leadership to mull over and discern the idea, but they finally decided to give it a chance and see where it goes. 


Rev. Steve Trefz. Dakotas Conference file photo.

With a pastor serving only ten hours a week, they decided to hire Taryn to serve as the director of ministries and pick up some of the duties that a pastor would traditionally do. Although she had served in a previous church, Taryn was worried about being young and not having the experience of working mainly on her own. A big part of Taryn’s role is administrative, as well as developing and equipping leaders in the church with what they need to carry out their ministry of making disciples. 

Tweet this: “Skills can be learned, strategies can be understood, but to carry a vision with character is the most important piece.” – Pastor Steve Trefz

A hard part of this role for Pastor Steve has been limiting himself to only working ten hours a week. “In the infinite sea of possibilities for what a pastor can do, how do I make my time what it needs to be for the mission of the congregation, I am entrusted to serve?” Taryn credits the trust between the two as being a crucial part of doing ministry this way, “It doesn’t work if you don’t trust the other person, because you end up spending a lot of time attempting to make sure what they are doing is what you want.”


Taryn Ragels. Photo courtesy of Fusion UMC>

For churches who want to try doing this or a similar model of ministry, it is essential to stick to the plan they created. Adjustments can be made along the way, but don’t lose the vision of what the church is trying to do. Create an environment for open, effective communication and trust amongst the staff, church leaders, and the congregation. Empower and equip as many people as possible to step up into leadership roles so that responsibilities can be delegated.  

It took a few months of working out the kinks and figuring out what works best, but Fusion Church feels they are headed in the right direction for the ministry God is calling them to. “We are trying to be the church where we are,” says Trefz. 


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