Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guest Post - The Bivocational Life

This is a guest post from Christine Pechstein. Christine is a motivational speaker and life coach who helps business leaders as well as Christians keep balance in their lives. You can learn more about Christine's ministry at: http://christinepechstein.wordpress.com/

When I was first out of college life seemed so easy. There were two things I had to do: Work and Play. Back then, if I’d known what a bivocational life was, that would have been it. During the day, I would work to make a living and support myself. And after work, I would continue to live my social life where I left off after my college graduation. I wanted to have plenty of time to enjoy my evenings walking the beach, catching a sporting event, or simply hanging out with friends. It seemed to be such an achievable plan, too. It’s funny to look back and see how simple I envisioned my life after a 9-5 job.

But then things started shifting. My life started needing my attention in more than just those two areas. Life kept growing and changing with things like marriage and kids coming into the picture. And then we added things like school and outside activities. Eventually even more came into the picture. As I grew up, so did my life. And I shared my time with ministry, volunteering, and leadership responsibilities that came into play. Pretty soon, my work and home life dividing line got erased. And my life and all the things I was doing just got muddled in the process. I began to realize I needed to manage all the various components of life, because as I grew, so did my needs and the needs of my family.

Instead of trying to be everything to everyone and do everything for everyone, I began to run my family like a team. And each team member had a certain level (even the newest and youngest!) of responsibilities to add to the success of us being an effective (non-frazzled) family. This was the beginning of how I became a passionate teacher of all things life management. I began to manage and coach a team of leaders in my home, and we are the same today-many years later.

As I got involved in ministry, I learned that there is the same need for church and ministry management. For pastors, ministry leaders, and volunteers, there are also many components that make up the life of the church which make it run efficiently and effectively that must be considered when we determine how to manage our personal time and priorities. For anyone who works or serves in the church and combines those responsibilities with outside life responsibilities and an outside job, effective leadership and proper use of all available resources is imperative not only to the effectiveness of ministry, but also the preservation of staff and the prevention of burnout in all service volunteers.

A pastor and friend of mine, Dr. Terry Dorsett, wanted to help pastors who work two jobs, so he wrote a book entitled, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church. This book helps both the pastor and the lay leaders understand the importance of sharing leadership in the church. He has been using these principles in churches in Vermont for several years, and it has worked very well.

Regardless of how pastors and/or church attendees may feel about bivocational ministry, it is a growing practice in North American church life. Patricia Chang is a research professor at Boston College and has studied many denominations and written extensively about clergy issues. Chang has done extensive research on how bivocational ministry is impacting American denominations of all sizes and theological persuasions. In a major study published in the Pulpit and Pew journal of Duke University, Chang concludes that “the majority of congregations in the United States are small, with fewer than 100 regular members, and cannot typically afford their own pastor.” This results in a growing need for more bivocational pastors every year.

Dr. Terry Dorsett is the Director of Missions with Green Mountain Baptist Association in Vermont and will be appearing on my Blog Talk Radio Show, Sunday, October 17, 9pm, CST.

I want to encourage you to learn more about bivocational ministry, leadership teams, and check out his book which is available at Amazon.com and a variety of other online retailers. You can also request it at most Christian bookstores. And we hope you’ll join us in October to learn more!

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