A New Way to Connect Freelancers with Ministry Needs
Have you ever had a special project you needed someone to dive in and handle? Has your team ever been way overbooked, and you needed some temporary support? Maybe you’re on staff at a church but could use some extra side income. The gig economy is alive and well…and there’s a new company coming onto the scene with serving churches as its central mission. I recently spoke with the Founder of Shaar, Matt Lombardi, about his new venture and how he’s using technology to serve churches and freelancers alike.
VMM: How did you get started in ministry? What were some of your early church leadership experiences?
Matt: I got started in ministry when I was 18 years old. I was serving at a church plant in 2008 as the video/graphics/production guy. In a series of three months, the church lost 3/4 of their leadership team all for different reasons, and I quickly got promoted to the role of “elder.” As one of the last people left on the leadership team of this 200-person church plant, I got a quick baptism by fire into ministry. Through this process, I felt (and had confirmed by several mentors) a strong call to serve the church. Since that time, I’ve gone on to work at two other church plants, a few mega-churches, as a revitalization pastor at a 200-year-old church, and in para-church ministry. I’ve done everything from preaching to leading youth ministries at prestigious New England boarding schools. I’m a ministry jack of all trades (definitely master of none.)
VMM: What is Shaar and how did the idea for connecting freelancers and church leaders come about?
Matt: Shaar is an online marketplace where churches can find freelance talent to supplement their church staff. All of the freelancers on Shaar are faith-based, and most serve at churches currently. Think of it like Upwork or Fiverr for churches. My goal was to figure out, “How can I leverage technology and the gig economy to help the churches better accomplish their mission?”
The idea came to me while I was working as a freelancer for five different ministries. I realized that there were so many churches that needed help with everything from their digital content to their bookkeeping. Yet, most of the churches couldn’t afford to hire someone to do it full time. I saw how inefficient the system was to find freelance talent like this. I found myself asking people for recommendations in Facebook groups, searching countless agency websites, and asking for recommendations from friends. That made me wonder, wouldn’t it be easier if this were all in one place? What if when I needed additional talent to help my church, I had one place where I could find, hire, and start working on the project with someone within 24 hours. So Shaar was just me scratching my own itch!
VMM: How can Shaar help church leaders thrive through this pandemic?
Matt: That’s a question I’m getting a ton recently! Two huge ways I think Shaar can help.
#1 – Help freelancers find work
It breaks my heart to hear the stories of churches having to lay off or furlough their staff. While it’s a terrible situation, our goal is that Shaar can be a place where some of these folks could find flexible, supplemental income in this challenging season. We’re actively looking for virtual assistants, digital content specialists, and social media managers.
#2 – Help church leaders fill in gaps
For leaders trying to adjust to a digital-first church, the amount to learn and to do is overwhelming. Many churches now realize they simply don’t have the talent capacity they wish they did “in-house.” Every day, I talk to church staff members who are burning out because of the sheer volume of content they now are expected to deliver online. Shaar is a huge opportunity for them to find talent to help their church with everything from video editing to creating amazing social media content. Best of all, it’s flexible. None of us know what ministry will look like in even six months. With Shaar, you can hire talent for specific projects or by the hour without being locked into a long-term commitment. You get to work with real people who also love serving churches. It sounds corny, but it’s a true win-win for both sides.
As you can tell, Matt is passionate about serving the church and helping talented ministry professionals find freelance opportunities. If you’re on either side of that equation, visit Shaar.work to learn more.