Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why bivocational?

I began my ministry in 1981 when Hebron Baptist Church called me to be their pastor. The church was small and had been served for many years by students at a nearby seminary. I was not a seminary student; I worked in a factory about an hour from our community. Even though I had never heard the term, I was now a bivocational pastor. I remained as the pastor of that church for the next twenty years until our region called me to be an Area Minister covering the southeast section of Indiana.

Three years ago I obtained by auctioneer's license. For years I've enjoyed going to auctions and buying and selling antiques and collectibles. I finally decided I would enjoy becoming an auctioneer. I completed the educational requirements, passed the exam, and received my license. A question people often ask me is why at this stage of my life did I want to take on another role.

Being an auctioneer offers me an opportunity to expand my ministry to people who might not attend a church anywhere. There are three primary classes of people who use an auctioneer's services.

  1. People who make their living buying and selling. Some of these people depend on auctioneers for their livelihood. Others may not make their living doing this, but they need money for an emergency and an auction is often the quickest way to get that money.
  2. People who need to downsize. Last week I received a call that is becoming increasingly more common. A lady said she is moving from a 2,400 square foot house to an 800 square foot apartment, and she has a lot of items she needs to sell. Another common call I receive is from elderly people who have found out their children are not interested in their antiques, collectibles, and other items. They want to begin to sell off these items so the family doesn't have to deal with them.
  3. People who have inherited an estate and need to sell it so the estate can be closed. Often, these people don't even know what is included in the estate. These folks may not even live in the same state as the estate, and would find it very difficult to sell the estate except at an auction. 
Each of these are ministry opportunities. Although I've only been doing this for three years, there have been many opportunities to minister to people who felt overwhelmed or desperate. Many of these people had no church home, and in some cases I've been able to point them to a good church in their area. I've been able to pray with some of these folks. It's been rewarding to know that I've been able to help solve a problem they had.

That is what I've always enjoyed about bivocational ministry. It keeps the minister out in the community opening up ministry opportunities that go beyond what we can do within our churches. Bivocational ministry helps break the false perceptions some unchurched people have about ministers. I'm not someone who sits in a church office all week dispensing advice about matters I've never experienced. I worked 40+ hours a week in a factory for 30 years. I've managed a small business. I've loaded and unloaded furniture out of an old beater van I use for the auction business. As people see me living and working just like they do, sometimes it causes them to be more willing to share with me things that are going on in their lives and gives me ministry opportunities I might not otherwise have.

Please do not think I am saying anything negative about those serving in fully-funded ministry. We each have our calling and neither fully-funded nor bivocational is superior to the other. What I am saying is that being bivocational has worked well for me, and it has for many of you as well. Rejoice in the calling God has given you! Bivocational ministry is a wonderful way to serve God and mankind.

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