Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The growth of bivocational ministry

When I wrote my doctoral dissertation in 2010 I assumed my adviser and the ones with whom I would present my oral defense would be the only ones who would ever read it. This week I received notice that it has been downloaded nearly 2,500 times. To say I am surprised is putting it mildly. But, I am also very pleased that it is being used to help people better understand bivocational ministry and the way coaching can assist those involved in that ministry.

Every year I receive one or two calls from someone writing their doctoral paper on some aspect of bivocational ministry. That alone is very encouraging to me because in the past there have been few resources available to bivocational ministers. This is changing, but there's not been anywhere close to 2,500 doctoral papers on bivocational ministry written in the past seven years. That tells me that others are reading my paper for other reasons, and it shows the growing impact bivocational ministry is having on ministry.

More and more churches are calling bivocational ministers as pastors and in other staff positions. While part of this is due to finances, part of it is also due to a shortage of pastors willing to serve in smaller churches. As I've written elsewhere, a growing number of pastors are unwilling to serve smaller churches. Some of these churches are forced to look for bivocational leadership. The good news is that they often find the ministry these bivocational pastors provide is second to none.

Because bivocational ministry has become more accepted it is drawing greater attention from denominational leaders and seminaries. Many of the leaders in these organizations are seeking to better understand bivocational ministry and how they can better support these ministers and the churches they serve. This has led to doctoral students studying aspects of this ministry and has led to more books written on the subject.

When my first book on bivocational ministry was published I was only aware of three other books that had been written on the topic. Today, there are several, but still not nearly enough. Many denominations now schedule seminars and conferences that focus on bivocational ministry. I've been privileged to lead several of these. Some denominations are also calling staff people at the regional and national level to relate specifically to bivocational ministers and the churches they serve.

Since much of my ministry focus has been on this form of ministry I rejoice at what I see happening with bivocational ministry today. Those who serve in such ministries continue to be my heroes.


ksmith said...

What are some other books that you would recommend??

Dennis Bickers said...

Great Question! A few years ago I compiled a list of books I thought would be helpful for a bivocational minister. This list does include the books I've written so forgive the self-promotion! Hope this helps.

A Church for the 21st Century by Leith Anderson
Fragile Hope by Thomas Bandy
Leaders on Leadership by George Barna, ed.
The Tentmaking Pastor: The Joy of Bivocational Ministry by Dennis Bickers (out of print)
The Bivocational Pastor: Two Jobs, One Ministry by Dennis Bickers
The Healthy Small Church by Dennis Bickers
The Work of the Bivocational Pastor by Dennis Bickers
Intentional Ministry in a Not-so-Mega Church by Dennis Bickers
The Healthy Community by Dennis Bickers
The Art and Practice of Bivocational Ministry by Dennis Bickers
The Healthy Pastor by Dennis Bickers
Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby
Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors by W.A. Criswell
Turn-Around Strategies for the Small Church by Ron Crandall
Shepherding the Small Church by Glenn Daman
Effective Small Churches in the Twenty-First Century by Carl S. Dudley
Spiritual Leadership in a Secular Age by Edward H. Hammett
Leading Congregational Change by Herrington, Bonem, and Furr
The Leader’s Journey by Herrington, Creech, and Taylor
No Little Places by Klasson and Koessler
Leading Change by John Kotter
The Heart of a Great Pastor by H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman
Rediscovering Expository Preaching by John MacArthur, Jr.
Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry by John MacArthur, Jr.
Advanced Strategic Planning by Aubrey Malphurs
Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell
Developing Leaders Around You by John Maxwell
Becoming A Person of Influence by John Maxwell
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
The Present Future by Reggie McNeal
Shaped by God’s Heart by Milfred Minatrea
Building a Contagious Church by Mark Mittlelberg
An 8-Track Church in a CD World by Robert Nash, Jr.
Unfinished Business by Greg Ogden
Entering the World of the Small Church by Anthony Pappas
Inside the Small Church by Anthony Pappas
The Intentional Church by Randy Pope
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched by Thom Rainer
The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk
When God Builds A Church by Bob Russell
Small Congregation Big Potential by Lyle Schaller
Visioneering by Andy Stanley
Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.
Perimeters of Light by Elmer Towns and Ed Stetzer
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren

ksmith said...

Thank you so much!