The Journey to Full-Time Deputation: Side Hustles for Missionaries

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Side hustles can be a solid way for missionaries to fund some expenses while on deputation. You see, it takes time to raise support. But a full-time job makes it difficult to contact churches.

It’s like a loop that you can’t seem to gain any traction in. You need more time to make more calls to get into more churches, but you have low levels of support and need the money to pay the bills. And eat.

You know you can’t risk not having any income, because you’re commanded to take care of your family. But you also know you need to trust that if God called you into missions, He will take care of you financially.

So how do you find the balance between caring for your family’s needs and stepping out in faith?

For our family, a side hustle has helped us to find that line. And as God continues to grow our side hustle, we can continue to pour more time into deputation.

In fact, May of 2019 marks a big step for us! Bryan was able to step-down from full-time employment to part-time. He now works four-days each week instead of five.

One day a week may not seem like much to you. But, to us it is huge! Instead of trying to make a connection with a Pastor during his short lunch break, Bryan now has a full day to get into the groove of making phone calls.

Last week was his first Monday off, and he was able to schedule two meetings as a result of his efforts that day. Two meetings! That’s more progress than we’ve made for a while.

We are praying that the next step would be for him to step down completely. Then we could plan longer trips and really focus our efforts on getting to Missionary Acres.

But for now, we are so thankful for this baby step. We know that the rest will happen in God’s timing.

If you’re a missionary family on deputation, we hope that this post can help you get your own side hustle going.

If you’re in a different demographic, we pray that this post would help you to see some new ways you can pray for missionaries on deputation.

Trying to keep the bills paid while getting started is a definite challenge. We also hope to share some ideas of how you can support your missionaries (even if you can’t take them on for monthly support.)

This information is down towards the end of the post.

Side hustles for missionaries on deputation.

Side Hustles for Deputation

There are tons of options for side hustles. But, not all of them work well for a missionary family on deputation.

That’s because you really need flexibility. You’re going to be traveling a lot. And you may not always have great internet available.

While tasks like teaching English to kids online may generate some regular income, the video-based component requires reliable internet speed. If you’re traveling and using a Verizon Mi-Fi hot-spot (or whatever sort of mobile connection you have), you aren’t going to be able to successfully do that gig.

If you’re walking dogs for extra income, your clients want you around to walk the dogs. This can be difficult once you start traveling.

Not every side hustle will work on deputation. You must find one that:

  • Builds on your skills
  • Can be done remotely
  • Is flexible and allows you to pick your own hours
  • Doesn’t require high-speed internet
  • Pays well enough to cover your expenses
  • Can be stepped up or down as needed

So what exactly can you do?

Keep reading to see what our family is doing, and what other side hustles we think would be a good fit for deputation.

Freelance Writing

This is where our family’s side hustle started. Way back in 2015, before we even knew how God would work in our lives and direct us into missions, He inspired Lisa to start a freelance writing Business. She took a course and dove in.

That business has been building ever since. Now it’s helping to fill the gap created by Bryan stepping down to part-time employment.

Since it’s worked so well for our family, we highly recommend freelance writing as a side hustle for missionaries on deputation. Here’s why:

  • You can start it with very little investment
  • So many companies need content – there’s a great need for writers
  • You can find paying gigs in just about any niche area
  • You can work on your writing assignments offline, and connect long enough to email them to your editor
  • You can write from anywhere
  • It’s great practice for writing your newsletters and updating your own website
  • You can take on extra gigs if you need more money
  • You can cut back on work as you gain support

If you’re going to start a freelance writing business, here are a few pointers to help.

Study the Form

Writing blog posts or articles for a website is much different from writing an academic paper. Take time to study the format of the type of posts you want to write. Look at how the writers make it easy for people to read from a computer. Or their phone.

When you write for the internet, keep things scannable. Use subheadings. And bullet points.

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.

Create Some Samples

Once you know the type of writing clients are looking for, try your hand at crafting some. You will need some samples to send potential clients.

They want to make sure you can create content that provides value for their audience.

Once you create some samples, you need to get them online. You can send them to sites that accept guest posts, or publish them on a website of your own.

Find Clients

When you have a sample or two, look for your first paying client. Don’t overthink this part.

Believe in the skills God has given you. You can do this!

Here’s a few of our favorite places to look for writing jobs:

You can also do a Google search. Type in “[your niche] + write for us +paid.” You may be surprised at how many sites pay.

Just make sure you look over the details carefully. Know what is expected of you and how the pay structure works. Keep your eyes peeled for red flags that this is a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Virtual Assistant

Another branch of Lisa’s business falls under the Virtual Assistant (or VA) niche. She aids other small business owners, taking some tasks off their plate. As a Virtual Assistant, you can:

  • Format blog posts
  • Do data entry
  • Provide email management
  • Create graphics
  • Transcribe podcasts and create show notes
  • Do video editing

Here’s a list of 150 VA services you can offer.

As a VA, you decide what services you want to provide. Then you find business owners who need you. You can look for clients:

  • In your personal network – you never know where a connection or referral will come from
  • In Facebook Groups – go to where your ideal clients are and get your name out there
  • On social media – use the hashtags #VAneeded and #virtualassistant to see what you can find
  • By looking for needs of the business owners you interact with and pitching them your services

One good thing about VA work is that it’s typically recurring. Once you find good clients and prove you can do great work, you can often keep working for them month after month. It can be a very steady side-hustle.


Blogging is not a way to quickly generate income. But, it is another way to bring in some money. As a bonus, the skills you learn creating your own blog can be used for others as a VA or freelance writer. Your blog can also serve as a spot for your “Hire Me” page.

Since your blog will take time (typically around six months) to begin generating income, we recommend starting it sooner rather than later.

To start a money-making blog, you must do a couple of things:

  1. Create your blog on a self-hosted WordPress site (we recommend FastComet for hosting. Their middle plan allows for multiple sites, and it’s what all of our websites are on)
  2. Niche down – know who you are writing for and what they want to know
  3. Create great content – consistently publish new posts and make sure they provide valuable information
  4. Find ways to monetize – affiliate income is a good place to start
  5. Market your blog – don’t have a “create it and they will come” attitude

Interested in starting a money making blog? You can purchase the book Lisa co-authored on Amazon.

Other Side Hustles

Those three are the side businesses the Lord has led us to grow. But they are not the only options. Here are others to consider:

Remember to Save for Taxes

A quick reminder that income you generate from a side hustle is not going to have taxes withheld like money from a job. Remember to set money aside to pay taxes.

How to Help Your Missionaries with Their Side Hustles

Side hustles are a good way for missionaries on deputation to fill the gap between their full-time income and the support they need to raise. If you know a missionary with a side hustle, here are some practical ways you can support them without spending any money.

  • Recognize the why – they aren’t starting a side hustle because it’s what they want to do forever. They are using this income to help them get to the field sooner. Be supportive with your words, and don’t assume that they don’t have enough faith. Remember that side hustles are one way that God can provide.
  • Share their content (and engage with it socially so others see it)
  • Refer others to them (know someone looking for a VA? Throw your missionary’s name out there)
  • Pray for their business (and for good clients!)
  • Like and follow their pages on social media

Trust God

God has a plan for those on deputation (and everyone else too!)

When we attended Candidate Seminar, one of the topics was on moving to full-time deputation. Everyone kept saying that you would know when it was the right time to make this move.

It wasn’t an answer that we appreciated at the time. We both wanted to have more of a game plan.

But, it turns out they were right. There isn’t a “right” way to move to full-time deputation.

Our path is taking a series of baby steps. Other missionaries are able to sell a house or something and jump straight in. Others are in a different life stage, without kids, and can travel more inexpensively.

Missionaries are all called to the field, but they will not all arrive the same way.

It’s amazing how God leads us when we trust Him.

For us, we just knew it was the right time for Bryan to move to four-days a week.

And the same week that he got permission to do so, one of Lisa’s clients asked her to do additional work. That new task almost exactly replaced the money we were losing from Bryan’s income. It’s incredible!

You can trust God to carry you through deputation. He will supply all your needs.


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