Friday, May 16, 2014

Bivocational ministers and team ministry

Every bivocational minister understands the challenges that come when one tries to juggle his or her ministry with the expectations of their families, their other jobs, their own need for self-care, and their personal spiritual life.  It never seems that there are enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done.  Regardless of which area of your life you are addressing at any given time, there are other needs screaming for your attention as well.  I served as a bivocational pastor of a church for twenty years so I understand this challenge quite well.  Sometimes I handled it fairly well, and other times I neglected some things that should not have been neglected.  When the latter happened, there was always a price to be paid.

A few years ago a friend and fellow bivocational minister, Terry Dorsett, wrote a most helpful book titled Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church.  This book is as much a manual to help a pastor develop the teams he or she needs as it is one to just read and place somewhere on a bookshelf.  After spending some time looking at bivocational ministry and various aspects of it, Terry begins to focus on the nuts and bolts of identifying the teams your church needs, the people who should serve on them, and how to develop them so they can provide the church with effective ministry.  This book walks the bivocational ministry through how to develop the leadership teams that will both enhance the ministry of the church and remove some of the pressure the minister often feels when trying to do it all.

In my experience, most bivocational ministers are probably Type-A personalities.  We, and I am including myself in this, want to make things happen, and we want them to happen today.  We often feel like we don't have time to spend on developing teams.  After all, the church called us to do the ministry.  Right?  Well, maybe the church called us to do the ministry, but that was not the call God placed on our lives.  According to Ephesians 4, God has called pastors among others to equip the saints to do the work of ministry.  Our role as pastors is to develop and equip those sitting in our congregations to do ministry.

Think of the difference this would make if each of us in ministry and our congregations took this Scripture seriously.  Regardless of how good you might be in ministry, you can only be in one place, at one time, doing one thing.  But, if you serve a congregation of 50 people who saw themselves as ministers and were trained to do ministry you would now have 50 ministers in 50 places doing 50 things.  Would you rather grow your church by addition or multiplication?  Which do you think is better: 1+1 or 1X50?  Which type of ministry would have the greatest impact on your community and your church?

As bivocational ministers we need to learn how to better delegate ministry responsibilities to others, but before we can do that those folks must first be trained.  Terry's book is a great resource to help you provide that training.  Yes, it will take some time in the beginning, but it will be time well invested because in the long run it will give you and your church a great return.

For other help on how to ease the pressures of ministry you may want to read my book The Healthy Pastor: Easing the Pressures of Ministry.  It explores many of the pressures every minister, including those of us who are bivocational, faces and how to address them.

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