I've recently been thinking about how things have changed for bivocational ministers in the past decade. When I began as a bivocational pastor in 1981 there were just no resources that spoke specifically to our situations. I could count on one hand the number of books that were written to address the needs we and our churches had, and I would have fingers left over! That is why I wrote my first book, The Tentmaking Pastor, in 2000 and a series of books since then.
But, I am not the only person now writing books and developing resources for bivocational ministers. Terry Dorsett has developed an excellent book on Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, and other writers are developing books and other resources as well. In addition, many denominations and judicatories are looking at how they can better relate to us and our needs, and many of them are looking at new ways to resource their bivocational ministers. I recently led a day-long training for a number of pastors who will coach the bivocational ministers in their District, and I see other denominational organizations doing similar things in the future. More workshops and conferences are being planned for bivocational ministers. A number of schools now offer certificate programs and degrees specifically developed for bivocational leaders. Many of these are online to make them accessible for anyone regardless of their busy schedules. It is an exciting time to be a bivocational minister, and there are today a wealth of valuable resources to assist you in your ministry.
In spite of that, many of my bivocational colleagues are not taking advantage of those resources. In one judicatory an eighteen month emphasis was recently launched specifically for churches averaging less than 110 people on Sunday morning, many led by bivocational ministers. Out of approximately 200 churches that would qualify, only 13 registered. Another judicatory brought in a workshop leader to address a group of bivocational ministers and none showed up. Many denominational leaders are frustrated because they are wanting to come alongside their bivocational ministers to assist them and find that their efforts are largely ignored. Some are questioning if they should invest the time and expense to offer resources to these bivocational leaders.
Part of the problem might be that for many years we were largely ignored by those organizations now wanting to assist. I can understand that because I was often frustrated at the lack of resources I had as a bivocational pastor. But, that was then; this is now. These same organizations now see the value of our ministry and are wanting to assist us. Personally, I believe it's a God-thing, and I'm thankful for it. I want to encourage you to take advantage of every resource offered that will benefit you, your ministry, and your family. If it's a new book, read it. If it's a workshop, attend it. If it's an offer for greater involvement in your judicatory, take it. As we grow together we grow the Kingdom of God, so take advantages of those opportunities now being offered.