Friday, March 6, 2015

More research into bivocational ministry

In recent months I've posted some articles about various contacts I've had with individuals who were doing Doctor of Ministry projects on bivocational ministry. It is very rewarding to me to see this interest in bivocational ministry. I believe these studies indicate a growing awareness of the importance of bivocational ministry to many of our churches, and will provide helpful information to denominations, churches, and those called to such ministry.

Today, I am meeting with another DMin student who is working on a project that will examine the future of bivocational ministry in the denomination in which he currently serves. This individual is a bivocational pastor himself and wants to examine what is happening with bivocational ministry in his denomination. He asked to meet with me as part of his project to ask some questions regarding some of my previous studies on the subject.

What I anticipate he will find is that the numbers of churches in his denomination who are seeking, or will soon begin seeking, bivocational leadership is growing. This seems to be the trend across denominations, and I doubt his is any different. Given this reality, there are some questions that should naturally follow.

  • How can we begin to lift up bivocational ministry as a worthy call of God upon a person's life? I think we have made some advancements here in recent years, but too many people still view bivocational ministry as a second-tier ministry.
  • How do we help persons identify this possible call upon their lives? We have a growing number of smaller churches that are struggling to find bivocational leadership. I have to believe that God knows of their need and is calling people to meet that need, but how do we help them identify that call?
  • How do we equip and educate persons for bivocational ministry? Are seminaries the best place for such education to occur, and if so, what, if anything, needs to change for that education to better meet the demands of bivocational ministry?
  • How can denominations better serve their churches when they are seeking bivocational leadership? The particular process used in my tribe isn't all that helpful when it comes to finding bivocational ministers for our churches. 
  • How can we help our churches who will transition from having a fully-funded pastor to calling one who is bivocational? This is not an easy transition for many churches, and it often does not work out well for the church.
  • How do we help pastors who are asked to transition from being fully-funded to bivocational? I've had numerous pastors tell me they anticipate having to make this transition, and it frightens them. One of their biggest fears is what will they do for their other employment. Many of them do not realize that may not be their biggest challenge in such a transition.
I'm sure there are other questions that need to be asked, and I encourage you to share them with our readers. But, these are important questions that I've not been able to answer to my satisfaction. Hopefully, as more people begin to study bivocational ministry they will discover helpful answers to these questions and others.

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