Why I left Youth Ministry (and became a Digital Tentmaker)
So as you might know already, I spent just over 17 years in full-time youth ministry.
And I have a bit of an “unusual” path to how I even got there…
Because I did it without having a college degree or any sort of formal training.
You see, I had to drop out of college and head back to Big Spring to help my parents with the family business when things got tough (this was back in 1985)…
And it was actually when I came back home that I met my wife Michelle.
Now, she was adopted – so this is where our shared passion for youth ministry came from.
We wanted to go out and help children who were left all alone like she was…
And we realized that giving lost kiddos a home to grow up in was the mission we were being called to.
So from there that’s exactly what we did!
At the start, it was difficult to find work because I didn’t have a college degree…
But eventually I landed my first full-time job at a children’s home, where we became house parents for 7 boys aged 7 and up.
They would show up at our doorstep with all their possessions in a single brown paper bag and it was up to us to provide for them.
Now, it was tough work for sure.
But knowing this was our calling and understanding that this was the best use of the gifts God had given me…
We continued on for 17 straight years, moving around to a few different homes in Texas and Arizona.
So, why did we decide to step out of youth ministry after all those years?
Well, two reasons:
First is it was during those final few years that my wife was diagnosed with MS.
She started having days where she’d wake up numb from the chest down..
Days where she was unable to get out of bed and walk around…
So trying to run a children’s home when you don’t even have the ability to take care of yourself just isn’t possible.
Plus, if you’re familiar with MS you’ll know that the weather has a huge impact on that person’s day-to-day health…
And the scorching heat of west Texas was making things way worse than they needed to be.
Now the second reason is that it started to take a toll on me too.
I believe that God gifted me strength and leadership specifically so I could do this kind of work…
But I am still just a man, and hearing all the stories of evil these children endured always left me feeling heartbroken.
And as much as I loved helping and providing for these lost kiddos who’d show up on our doorstep…
My own health started taking a turn for the worst too.
I started having stress headaches every morning when I woke up…
My blood pressure was through the roof and I started getting stomach ulcers…
And every day I wondered how much longer I could really continue like this.
So not only were we pushing ourselves past our limits…
But you have to remember that we had our own growing daughter to think of on top of all of this too!
And that was what I think pushed us to finally making the tough decision to step aside from youth ministry, at least for a little while.
This way we could take a rest and try to regain our own health as much as we could…
But more importantly to finally take some time to focus on our own family and make sure our daughter was provided with everything she needs.
Now obviously I didn’t want to abandon ministry altogether, I just needed a new way to do it.
…and this pretty much brings us to where we are now!
In fact, I like to make a joke that I became a digital tentmaker so that I could work for free!
Because I wanted to give me and my wife the ability to travel and serve where the weather was best for her health..
And the only way to do that is if I wasn’t tied down to one place or having to depend on a paycheck in return for my work.
So I think that more or less covers it!
If you’ve ever wondered what my “story” was, now you know 🙂
Why Become a Digital Tentmaker: 3 Reasons You Should
For Paul, making tents was not just about paying his personal expenses.
It was about funding the missions he was called to. It was about not feeling like a burden on his church. It was about providing a needed skill in the communities he set up shop in.
Have you ever wanted to mimic Paul? To secure your and your family’s own needs — thus giving you the freedom to serve without relying on the church?
If you’ve already determined that Digital Tentmaking is for you…
Then, here are 3 reasons why become a digital tentmaker yourself!
It allows our church to put that money towards greater causes than us
This is what I always struggled with most when I was a full-time youth minister. I felt guilty that the money was going into my pockets and not to someone who needed it more…
Yet at the same time, I needed that income to provide for my family.
Especially as a full-time house runner, every time I cashed my paycheck I thought about the food, clothes, and school supplies that could’ve been bought for those kiddos instead. It felt wrong accepting that money.
But what’s a man to do? Let his own family suffer? Stop putting food on his own table?
Becoming a digital tentmaker (by starting an online business) is what finally let me provide for my family AND tell my church that I want to serve for free.
My salary as a minister was just under $50k a year. That’s a big chunk of change my church now gets to use for so many other good causes, including to help support the missionaries and ministers that truly have no choice but to rely on the church.
And the best part is that I still get to serve more than ever before! It’s just that as a (digital) tentmaker, we get to relieve the church of any financial obligations towards us.
We get to mimic God’s independence and show our strength to the rest of the world
I saw something on Facebook a few months back that broke my heart. It was a post from an old friend of mine who has since strayed from the church and God’s path.
What he said was…
“Shouldn’t missionaries stop begging for money and freeloading off the church, and support themselves like everyone else in the world?”
First of all, this young man clearly didn’t have too great an idea of the amount of work us missionaries actually do. I’ve read somewhere before that what a typical minister does on Sunday is equal to a 40 hour work week for a construction worker.
Couldn’t agree more!
However, I do agree with my old friend’s misaligned view to some extent. NOT because we shouldn’t “beg” or “freeload” (as if that’s actually how it works!)
But because through meeting our own needs, we have the ability to imitate God’s independence and expand our stewardship over the resources He gives to us!
Plus, when we’re using our own finances to support the church (rather than having the church support us) we get to set a positive example of sovereignty that the rest of the world can look up to.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
Not relying on the church for an income provides endless opportunities to go and serve!
When your finances are taken care of, and when you’re not relying on an income from the church… you have the freedom to go serve anywhere you want.
Whatever mission He calls you to, you can simply get up and go. No second thoughts, no questioning things, no hesitations. Just walking the path He wants you to follow.
This is what my wife and I have been blessed to be able to do for the past couple years too. We travel the country in an RV, serving where we can — plus we get to chase the weather that best suits my wife’s health.
Whenever we’re called to take on a new mission, we go. We don’t have to worry about any consequences because there are none! Everything is taken care of.
And this lets us focus completely on what matters most: serving those in need and bringing others under the grace of His kingdom.
There! I’ve give you reasons why become a digital tentmaker…
Next question on your mind might be: what tentmaking business can you start that is aligned with your values as a Christian.
Now, here is where it gets better…
Digital Tentmaking: A Christian business opportunity that is so much better
Some you might’ve heard of — things like MLMs, Affiliate Marketing, etc.
But the thing is…
And here’s what makes it a unique Christian business opportunity:
1. You get to provide real value to others.
Let me give you an example…
He’s a great guy and I LOVE working with him.
However during the worst months of the pandemic…
It was hard for him to find customers and his business almost closed it’s doors for good.
His entire family’s way of living was at risk because of lockdowns and the pandemic.
But luckily thanks to DSF we were able to keep a slow — yet steady — stream of customers into his business…
He says it’s thanks to my help with his online marketing that we made it out of 2020 with his business still afloat.
Could I have ever made a real difference like this if I was recruiting people for an MLM?
Or if I was trying to promote a bunch of junk products with Affiliate Marketing?
And this is why DSF has become the go-to business for so many Christians all over America.
Not only can it be incredibly lucrative (more on this in a second)…
But it’s the only place where marketing and good values come together…
Letting you make a real positive impact on the lives of others.
2. It leverages VALUE, not time.
For a lot of people who jump in DSF, they’re in an okay spot financially…
But it’s simply the TIME it took to earn their income that was leaving them feeling frustrated.
This is where DSF has a huge advantage over even the most high-paying corporate jobs…
Because the fees you charge are based on value provided.
NOT number of hours worked!
Let me explain…
If you charged a client $2k a month for your marketing services — and in return he was seeing an extra $25k a month in new business…
Wouldn’t that be a pretty fair deal?
The business owner doesn’t care how many hours you sat in front of the computer…
He just cares that you helped him get $25,000 worth of new customers!
And this is exactly how so many of our students are able to land HUGE deals even at the very beginning of their DSF journeys.
Take Zach, for example…
Who landed a $4k/month deal only a couple months into his business!
Now, I want you to really think about the power of this.
Because while sure, $4k might not seem like life-changing money — especially if you already have a great job that pays the bills…
What would it feel like to have 1 client paying you $4,000 a month…
…where it only requires 3-4 hours a week of work to earn it?
How much more time freedom would you have?
Plus from there all it takes is “stacking” a few more high-paying clients like this one…
And before long you can make even more than you do now — but without ever getting near the classic 40 hours a week of a 9-5!
There you go! I believe I’ve given you enough reasons why become a Digital Tentmaker now…
Plus I believe that we need more Christians in business right now than ever before…
So my hope is that we can get more people like you in the program — giving you the tools to completely transform your life and make an even greater impact.
Interested to hear more about this Christian business opportunity that will let you serve more? I’m giving away a Free Training to get you started.
Cory Long is the owner and CEO of Yroc Consulting, a local digital marketing company based in San Angelo, TX that specializes in online marketing, SEO, web design, and social media. He has worked full time in ministry for 17 years. Bought several products teaching how to make money online but never found success until he found this model. Five years later, he has a 7-figure Digital Storefront business and has taught hundreds of people how to do this successfully for themselves.