I am Loving Bi-Vocational Ministry
Dear friends, nearly a year ago I wrote here about my decision to step out of the pastorate and re-enter the secular work force (Leap of Faith; I have Left the Pastorate). I wanted to give you an update on what the Lord has been doing in my life in the last several months.
After resigning my church where I had served for 20 years, I went to work full-time for a local company where I had been working part-time. My plan was to take some time off from preaching and ministry, which I did for a couple of months, but my phone began ringing with requests to supply preach. I supply preached in a few churches in the area, but one kept calling me back. This church, a small congregation about 30 minutes from my home, extended a call to become their interim pastor. I served as their interim for 6 months, and this past September they called me to become their pastor on a bi-vocational basis. I am loving bi-vocational ministry and my wife and I are enjoying ministry more now than we have in many years.
My reason for sharing this is to give hope to my fellow burned out pastors who may be considering leaving the ministry as I was. For those of you thinking of leaving the ministry for a while or maybe quitting altogether, I encourage you to explore bi-vo ministry. The differences between bi-vo and full-time ministry are amazing. Here are a few thoughts on the benefits of bi-vo vs full-time pastorate:
-You are no longer financially dependent on a congregation for your income. Having a full-time job is wonderfully liberating. Church bullies will use money as power to get what they want and control the pastor. When the pastor has an income independent of the church, you remove the bully’s power in terms of finances and salary. When the church is paying your salary there is a sense of, “We own you, so you have to do what we say – you work for us!” Church bullies are wolves, and having your own income source pulls the wolf’s teeth, as it were.
-Expectations are radically different. The congregation knows you work a full-time job, therefore, they no longer expect you to be in the office all the time – you cannot because you have a job. Bi-vo ministry removes the old accusation of “The pastor doesn’t keep enough office hours or visit enough,” which is the golden oldie of church malcontents. The church has to understand that your time for visiting and keeping office hours is limited. Bi-vo ministry also removes the old absurd accusation that the pastor is lazy because he only works on Sundays and Wednesday nights. I work 40 hours a week as well as pastor the church. No one can accuse me of laziness.
-You no longer have to uproot and move to a new ministry. There are countless churches all around us that cannot afford a full-time pastor, and these congregations need leadership, guidance, and the Word preached and taught to them. I have never began a new ministry where I felt less stressed. There was no having to uproot my family, sell and buy a house, or start anew in a new community. We already live here, so we simply began serving in the present church.
-You can bless a congregation that cannot afford a full-time pastor. My present congregation pays me a small salary, but they do not have to cover my health insurance, a huge expense, since this is covered by my full-time job. This is a win/win for me and the church. I receive extra income, which is always helpful, and the church is not financially stressed over having to pay me a full-time salary.
These are just a few points regarding the benefits and blessings of bi-vocational ministry. Yes, it gets exhausting at times, but this is where God has called me and I am truly blessed. So, instead of quitting the ministry, please consider what I have done. Pastors have many marketable skills that companies and business are looking for. Do not give up, God has a plan.
God bless you all,