By Daniel Im
It seems like everyone is working a gig or side hustle.
Okay, maybe not everyone, but close to half of the people I’ve met were part of the “gig economy.” And for the majority of them, these gigs weren’t their main source of income.
A lot of them were hustling, gigging, contracting, and moonlighting on the side to earn some extra cash, pay down debt, or save up for a vacation.
This global trend is growing rapidly and not only affects everyday life, but also the church.
In 2019, 35% of the American workforce was a part of the gig economy—up from five years prior.
That means 57 million Americans were self-employed in a part-time or full-time capacity getting paid for their time, skills, possessions, or expertise.
To give you some perspective, that’s more people than the entire populations of Canada, Liberia, Greece, and Puerto Rico combined!
And what’s so surprising about it all is just how rapidly the gig economy has grown. Can you believe that 68% of all gig workers surveyed joined the gig economy in the last five years?
You don’t even need to be working in it for it to affect you.
Just think about the last time you bought something off of Facebook Marketplace, rode in an Uber, ordered food using DoorDash, slept at an Airbnb, or got your IKEA furniture assembled by a Tasker from TaskRabbit.
That was all possible thanks to the gig economy and someone else’s side hustle.
The same is true even without an app because every time you get a haircut, hire a contractor, have your lawn mowed, or hire a babysitter, you are also funding the gig economy.
In other words, the gig economy is not just happening around you, it’s happening to you.
7 Gig Economy Lies
While I was researching the implications of the gig economy on everyday life, I noticed a loose thread.
And the glitz and glamor of the gig economy came undone the more I pulled. Stitch after stitch loosened and fell apart until I was eventually left with this mangled heap of lies:
You are what you do.
You are what you experience.
You are who you know.
You are what you know.
You are what you own.
You are who you raise.
You are your past.
These are the seven lies that have risen to the surface because of the gig economy.
And if they haven’t already done so, they will subtly and subversively change the way you approach pastoral ministry, and also, how those in your church will approach work, life, and love.
The Challenge for Pastoral Ministry
This presents quite the challenge, doesn’t it? Especially when the gig economy is saying things like this:
“You have unlimited earning potential, so if you want to go on a trip, just gig for a few hours.”
“Want that new outfit? Sell a few things.”
“Want the latest phone? Hustle for it. After all, everyone has free time that they waste, so just use that time and earn some extra cash. Be productive! You’re in control, so make it happen—rise and grind and get it done.”
A life of freedom and flexibility—or a life of control—is what the gig economy tries to promise. And each of these seven lies feeds right into this so-called “promised” life.
No wonder these lies have become the new way to view ourselves! They are the means to an end, since believing in them, and living our lives according to them, is apparently the “promised” path to freedom and flexibility.
Here’s the reason it’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing these lies—it’s because they are half-truths! Not the kind that are outright harmful, evil, or unjust.
They mingle truth and falsehood with the subtle and deliberate intent to deceive. And in our day and age of fake news where half-truths are everywhere, these don’t actually seem too bad—which is precisely why they are so deceptive.
The Opportunity for Pastoral Ministry
With every challenge, there’s also an opportunity.
And while these seven lies of the gig economy have definitely changed the way we must lead in the church, they also present a unique opportunity to share how the way of Jesus is better than the ways of the world.
Living according to the lies of the gig economy is like living in chains. It’s tiring. It’s a grind and a hustle just to try and keep up. And it’s actually a fool’s game because you will never feel caught up.
However, following Jesus leads to freedom because following Him is a decision to follow the truth. It’s a decision to walk out of the darkness and into the light.
He said it Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), and “anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light” (John 3:21).
Freedom cannot be found in anyone else or through anything else—including and especially through these lies—because it’s only through Jesus that anyone can experience true freedom.
And here’s the truth about freedom: “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free” (John 8:34–36).
The rise of the gig economy presents an incredible opportunity for you to teach those in your church what the seven lies are, how to lay them down, and what it looks like to follow the ways of Jesus instead.
For when they do this, their status will change from slave to child. From enslaved to free. From no inheritance to full inheritance. From worker to heir.
From being defined by what they do, what they experience, who they know, what they know, what they own, who they raise, and their past, to being defined by what Jesus has done for them.
Essentially, from ashes to beauty.
What an opportunity to present the truth of the gospel.
DANIEL IM (@danielsangi) is a speaker, leader, and author of three books, including his most recent “You Are What You Do.“ Daniel lives in Canada with his wife Christina and their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com. This is an adapted excerpt used with permission by B&H Publishing.