5 Things About Bi-Vocational Ministry You Might Not Know

1. Bi-vocational ministry is not a new concept. The discussions about the reference Paul makes in his writing to being a tentmaker circulating in seminary classrooms and churches are becoming more frequent. Perhaps, this is because churches and seminaries can see the writing on the wall that the churches we have established that look an awful like corporations are going to experience the same decentralization that corporate America has. USA Today recently reported that in the SBC, three quarters of affiliated churches are under 100 members and the pastors of these churches are bi-vocational ministers. Although these churches don’t get the spotlight, they are the churches that are forming the foundation of the convention. While in the moderate and progressive baptist churches similar conversations about small churches and the power of bi-vocational ministry are happening, would we go as far as to say they are the foundation of our fellowship?

2. I check three email accounts multiple times a day. The dream that different days in the week are for my different jobs is just that, a dream. In a lot of other ways, I have to be constantly ready to have conversations about both jobs, both lives. I also carry two business cards at all times because there is always someone I meet that is interested in knowing more about publishing or more about our church.

3. State and National Meetings cost a lot. When you are a bi-vocational minister, often you are one of the few staff members and so being absent can be quite difficult. I am blessed to serve in a community where people are always willing to step in, but I know others who have more difficulty. But being away for four days for state and national meetings don’t only mean being away from one job. For me, it means taking time off from both my jobs, which inevitably requires a lot of catch up time. I just wonder if our meetings aren’t designed around a certain type of minister and a certain type of church context.

4. You have to create a job. And what do you do? Answering this question is never easy and often very difficult to explain. Surprisingly though, it’s young professionals who understand my bi-vocational life most quickly because they themselves are experiencing the same thing because of financial restraints and the economic recession. They have had to create jobs in an economy where applying for a job and receiving a job right out of college is quickly disappearing, which Forbes notes is one of the upsides of the economic recession. Both parts of my working life together comprise who I am and my calling. There is not one that is more holy than the other. Both are my calling. Both are my life. Both are me. Maybe people are looking for church experience in which they can incorporate all parts of who they are.

5. Bi-vocational ministry is the future of the church. I don’t say this because of where I find myself, but because there are people much smarter than I am, like Seth Godin, who make this same claim. Perhaps he isn’t speaking about churches directly, but the observations he makes are relevant to the changing face of church. If industries all around the church are changing and the church believes that she will not be asked to change, then there is no doubt that the church will become irrelevant to people who is experiencing these industry changes. If instead, the church is an active participant in this changing realm, then the church just might become a place where people want to come.