Pastors lead busy professional lives, and their responsibilities are as pressing and varied as those of a company CEO. Pastors set the direction for the church and oversee staff activities. They minister to attendees, prepare sermons, conduct weddings and funerals, and participate in many community activities. Most do it with little or no dedicated administrative resources. But, like a company executive, a pastor can be even more effective with the right support. A virtual assistant can be the ideal solution.

Virtual assistants are an increasingly popular alternative to onsite administrative support for pastors. The world of work is changing, thanks to technology and shifting employee and employer expectations. A Gallup poll last year found that 43 percent of employees in the U.S. worked from home at least part of the time. A remote working relationship can be incredibly beneficial for employees and employers alike – churches included.

Functioning as the executive of an organization, pastors can also benefit from the support of a virtual assistant. And in many ways, church leaders are uniquely positioned to gain an advantage from this type of working relationship.

Here are five reasons your pastor needs a virtual assistant:

#1 – Productivity

Time management is a challenge for most pastors since the demands of the job are so great. The workday doesn’t end at five o’clock. A virtual assistant can add hours to the day by taking on administrative tasks like managing calendars and correspondence, making travel arrangements, creating presentations and much more. This frees the pastor to focus on ministerial work.

#2 – Affordability

Maintaining space and providing technology assets for onsite employees is expensive, as is providing benefits like health insurance. Executives who work with offsite employees on a contract basis don’t have to deal with the overhead expenses associated with on-site employees. Offsite support can be a great option for pastors contending with tight church budgets.

# 3 – Dedicated Support

Many pastors understand that they need help, and they get administrative support when they can through family or church volunteers. But volunteer arrangements aren’t as reliable as dedicated support. Volunteers lead busy lives of their own, and since they’re providing help at no cost, they won’t necessarily be available when the pastor needs them the most.

#4 – Up-to-Date Skills

Technology has changed the practice of modern ministries. Most churches have a web presence, and many engage in active social media outreach. A virtual employee can provide the up-to-date skills pastors need for a 21st century ministry without requiring that the church provide the technological assets.

#5 – Larger Pool of Candidates

When hiring an onsite employee, churches are limited to local candidates. For pastors in rural areas, this may pose a problem since the skills and competencies they’re seeking may not be available — or may come at too high a premium. Virtual assistants can telecommute from anywhere, using technology to handle support needs in real time.

In many ways, being a pastor is like the role of a startup entrepreneur or business owner. There’s a lot of pressure, and it takes uncommon dedication and leadership to perform successfully. But in another important sense, leading a church is unique. Pastoral duties are a calling, not a vocation, and pastors are responsible for ministering to congregants’ spiritual needs in times of crisis, day or night.

Because they’ve taken on such an awesome responsibility and are dedicated to their ministries, it can be hard for pastors to say no, so they’re chronically overextended. Many have difficulty asking for help, even while they experience the stress of a job that never ends. But it’s important to realize that with the right support, pastors can be even more effective in the truly critical components of their ministry.

The workplace is changing dramatically as technology like telepresence tools and mobile devices make it possible for people to collaborate from virtually anywhere. The evidence is growing that offsite employees can be even more productive than those located in the same office space.  Now is the time for busy pastors to join their executive peers and put virtual assistants to work so they can focus on their primary mission: tending to the spiritual needs of their church and the community.