Career Crossover: Leaving the Marketplace for MinistryCareer Crossover: Leaving the Marketplace for Ministry
Tom Harper
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Could God really be calling you to step away from your 9-to-5 work? Noting that many believers in long-term careers are considering leaving their jobs for more focused ministry, noted church consultant, Tom R. Harper offers helpful insights for those investigating pastoral or mission fields---and provides hope for those seeking a new future in full-time Christian service. This book will walk you through the steps necessary to make the transition from a secular career to full time ministry. Helpful appendices included.

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Tom Harper 

Tom R. Harper is founding publisher of, president of NetWorld Alliance, and cofounder of Church Central Associates, focusing on church consultant training and church health resources, He lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve had the entrepreneurial disease since elementary school, when I published the “Fun Book & Newspaper,” which was actually just a four-page Xeroxed hand-written collection of riddles, jokes and the War of the Week, which was usually a knight fighting some kind of dragon-looking thing (I loved to draw liked I loved to read). I think only a couple issues hit the stands and sold for a nickel apiece.

But I had the bug and kept writing throughout school and into college and beyond. I started writing fantasy novels and then spy thrillers, but when I became a Christian I read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and I immediately launched into a Christian spiritual thriller, which I worked on for seven years before putting it aside in discouragement. It didn’t catch the eye of any publishers. It wasn’t until Career Crossover that God chose to grant my heart’s desire of publishing a book. How did you become interested in writing?

My earliest desire to be published started around fifth or sixth grade. I wrote about 20 pages of a fantasy novel and handed it to my editor, who happened to be my dad. He patiently marked it up and encouraged me to keep going. See above for the rest of the story! What compelled you to write a book on this subject?

For a time I thought God might have been calling me to the ministry, but he turned that desire into a book to help pastors make their own journeys. At the same time, he confirmed I needed to stay in business and support pastors, missionaries and other vocational ministry workers in other ways.

At a church consultant training conference I talked to numerous pastors and denominational leaders who came from the business world. When I surveyed a larger group I found this trend was widespread and the idea for the book instantly became clear. What is the main theme or point that you want readers to understand from reading your book? Are there any other themes present in the book?

The main point is this: If you’re interested in leaving your job for full-time ministry work, do your research first and make sure you’ve confirmed your call from God. Don’t jump into it without listening to the advice of those that have gone before you! What makes your book different than any other books similar to yours that are in circulation today?

I haven’t found any other book like this that’s been published in the past 10 years or so. Most of the “marketplace ministry” books on the shelves say the same thing: turn your job into a ministry rather than leave it. Well, the only question I have is what am I supposed to do if I’ve been called to leave the marketplace and go into full-time ministry? That’s what happened to Paul and the disciples. It’s hard to coach all business people to stay where they are, and our research shows that almost 400,000 of today’s church and ministry leaders came from the marketplace. So the business world is a great source of good leaders, and it provides wonderful training you can’t get from any seminary! Are there any authors that either influenced you personally or influenced your style of writing? Who are they and how did they influence you?

Bob Buford’s Half Time was a major influence on me. I read it just after my dad died a few years ago. It inspired me to seek out opportunities to make a mark on this world that will be remembered in heaven long after I’ve faded from earthly memory.


Posted 10/31/2009