Each year I am privileged to lead workshops and speak at events for various denominational groups in the United States and Canada. The majority of these are related to bivocational and small church ministry although occasionally I am asked to speak on other topics such as clergy self-care and church hospitality. Earlier this year, for the first time, I trained a group of clergy who were going to coach some of the bivocational ministers in their District. Because I believe coaching will become an important tool in equipping bivocational ministers I anticipate doing more of that training in the future.
It has been interesting to see how different denominations approach their training. In several instances I have spent a week with a judicatory leading four to five events throughout their judicatory in a week. Others schedule me for a Saturday only event and ask their pastors to travel to a central site. At one event in Canada I was shocked when I learned that a car load of bivocational ministers had driven nine hours one way to attend the workshop I was leading.
At every workshop I am humbled by the persons who attend. These are usually very dedicated men and women who have felt the call to bivocational ministry. Some felt forced into that role, but many believe they have been specifically called to bivocational ministry. They often serve for a very small salary and few benefits. For a variety of reasons outsiders may not see where their ministries have made much of a difference, but the ministers know how their service has changed people's lives in ways the casual observer may not see. Most of these are people who have a deep love and appreciation for the churches they serve. Many of them talk to me during the breaks and meal times about the challenges they face. They often talk about their struggle to do more to address those challenges. I don't remember a workshop I've led where at least one pastor didn't ask how I knew so much about his or her church. I always respond that the issues they face are common to most small church and bivocational leaders. Many of them I experienced during my pastorate in a small, rural church. I am touched at the numbers of pastors who tell me how much they appreciate the encouragement and practical helps they were given in the workshops I lead.
If your association, judicatory, or denomination has been thinking about offering some training for your bivocational and small church leaders later this year or in 2013, please contact me by responding to this post. I offer a number of workshops that can be presented in a full-day, half-day, or 90 minute format depending upon your needs. I also offer coaching for pastors and other leaders.
For 20 years I served as the bivocational pastor of a small, rural church in southeast Indiana. Since leaving that ministry I have been committed to developing resources that will help the leaders of such churches. I am convinced that we will see the numbers of bivocational ministers continue to increase throughout most of our denominations, and it is critical that we become intentional about equipping them for the ministry God has given them. Please let me know if I can assist you in doing that. In the meantime you may want to check out one of my books, The Bivocational Pastor: Two Jobs, One Ministry.