Thursday, February 9, 2017

Some fully-funded pastors should go bivocational

One of the bloggers I enjoy reading is Thom Rainer. He addresses so many topics of interest to church leaders, and his research and insights are always spot on. In a 2015 article he gave eight reasons why some full-time pastors and staff should go bivocational. You can read the entire article here. I will just list the reasons he gave and you can check out his article if you want more information.

  1. Opportunities to develop relationships with non-believers will be greater.
  2. Full-time pastors and staff often get missionally stale in their "holy huddles."
  3. Smaller churches are increasingly unable to afford full-time pastors or staff.
  4. The digital world is offering more opportunities for flexible secular jobs than ever.
  5. More churches are moving toward multiple teaching/preaching pastors.
  6. More churches would like to expand staff, but don't have the resources to do so.
  7. A bivocational pastor or church staff can have greater freedom than in a person in a full-time role.
  8. A bivocational pastor or staff person has transferable skills.
I would add one more reason to his list. When a pastor is bivocational it often frees up more money that can be spent on ministry. In many marginal fully-funded churches a very large percentage of the church's income is used to fund the pastor's salary and benefit package leaving little to be used for other purposes.

However, as you can see from the above list, finances are not the only reason a pastor should consider becoming bivocational. There are other good reasons why a pastor might want to become bivocational.

As I've often said in this blog, I believe we will see the numbers of bivocational ministers continue to increase in the coming years. They are going to be involved in pastoring churches, planting new churches, and working in staff positions in churches and para-church organizations. I would also not be surprised if we do not see more bivocational ministers involved in judicatory and denominational roles in the next few years. We're already seeing this beginning to occur, and I predict we'll see even more as denominations continue to struggle with their funding.

Anyone preparing to enter the ministry should carefully consider that at some point in his or her ministry bivocational ministry will be a real possibility. It might be wise to pursue education in another career field in addition to preparing for the ministry. Dual degrees are now being offered at some seminaries. Gaining experience in another career before entering the ministry might also be wise. I've had more than one fully-funded pastor tell me that he would need to become bivocational if he remained at his church, and he was scared because he didn't know what else he could do besides ministry.

I spent 20 years as a bivocational pastor. No one can tell me it is not doable or not rewarding ministry. It is very doable, and my time in that church was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I've ever done. The call to bivocational ministry is a special call from God upon a person's life, and He only calls those He knows can do the job. That's one reason bivocational ministers will always be my heroes!

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