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.