Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Rethinking Bivocational Ministry
Over time, this perception of bivocational ministry being second-class has resulted in a negative social stigma being attached to the concept of bivocational ministry. Some bivocational pastors may not even want to think of themselves as bivocational because of the perceived stigma attached to the term. I have heard many pastors declare that they are not bivocational, they just work a second job. They deny the reality of what they are because somewhere along the way someone told them that being bivocational was something less than being fully-funded. I want to challenge that notion and proclaim to everyone that being bivocational is not a bad thing.
People will occasionally refer to bivocational pastors as part-time pastors. This is a misnomer because all pastors are on call twenty-four hours a day. Therefore, there are no actual part-time pastors. What we really have in bivocational ministry are full-time pastors who are only being partially compensated for their work and therefore have to seek additional employment in order to support their families. Do not insult a bivocational pastor by referring to him as part-time. He deserves more respect than that from the people he serves and from his fully-funded peers.
Being bivocational is not something to be looked down on. The Apostle Paul was bivocational. Down through the centuries there have always been bivocational ministers. Sometimes the percentage of bivocational pastors has been higher, and sometimes lower. This has resulted in many waves of bivocational ministry ebbing and flowing as the situation dictated. The wave of bivocationalism that is currently sweeping North America is a combination of a weak economy, a lack of commitment to stewardship within the church, and a new understanding of the importance of bivocational ministry. Bivocationalism is here to stay, so let's stop thinking poorly about it and start rethinking how we can use it to grow the church of Jesus Christ.
This is an excerpt from the book Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church. I wrote
this material not just for pastors, but for all leaders in the small church. As pastors and lay-leaders read it together, they will be able to rethink bivocational ministry.