Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Joys and Burdens of Bivocational Ministry

Two of the most fulfilling ministries pastors participate in are preaching and pastoral care. The preaching of the Word of God changes lives and countless pastors testify to how God uses their preaching to heal broken hearts, restore marriages, comfort the grieving and challenge the saints to greater service to the Lord. Most pastors say that preaching is their favorite aspect of the ministry.

Pastoral care has many facets, but for general purposes, pastoral care is be defined as making a personal visit and/or connection to someone who is in need of spiritual comfort or encouragement. Good pastoral care can build a church even if a pastor’s preaching skills are still being developed. It is important to not confuse pastoral care with pastoral counseling. Counseling is a more directed ministry than pastoral care. Effective pastoral counseling requires a much greater degree of training than pastoral care. Many pastors are gifted at pastoral care but would not consider pastoral counseling their gift. Most pastors love to offer pastoral care to their congregation because of their deep love and concern for others.

While preaching and pastoral care are two of the most fulfilling aspects of ministry, they are also the most time consuming. Sermon preparation and pastoral care easily consume the greater part of the pastors’ week. While this may be fine for fully funded pastors, when pastors have to work an additional job to support their families, the time needed for adequate sermon preparation and effective pastoral care becomes more of an issue. Most bivocational pastors would agree that preaching and pastoral care are often the two ministry areas that they never feel that they have enough time to do adequately.

In light of the amount of time that sermon preparation and pastoral care consume, if lay people really want to assist bivocational pastors, they need to be willing to share the burden of these two ministries areas with their pastors. Though some lay people may be intimidated by the prospect of preaching or offering pastoral care to their fellow parishioners, there are resources available to help train lay people in these areas. Lay people should carefully consider attending a conference, or purchasing training materials, in order to learn these skills. Lay people should meet with their pastor and offer to assist in these areas of ministry. Working together as a team, pastors and lay leaders can offer adequate pastoral care and effective preaching to congregations of any size, even those served by bivocational pastors.