What is bi-vocational ministry?
Generally, at least in Western culture, we think of the pastor as someone who is engaged in ministry as his only job. While this is still common in many churches, other churches don’t have the financial luxury or the ability to pay someone to facilitate ministry. That means that others have to pick up the slack where a single person can’t just do it all.
Welcome to my world.
I work full time for a small software company, designing systems for public safety first responders. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Well, some days the job is fantastic, and some days it is simply a job. My boss is hands down the best ever (and I refuse to hear nominations otherwise, because you’re wrong) and he allows me a level of freedom and creativity within my position that I don’t think many developers have. I’ve been working there for nearly nine years now, and I’m beyond happy with my job.
When I’m off the clock at my day job, I’m trying to accomplish tasks associated with my second job at Pin Oaks. I recently moved into the position of discipleship pastor at our church after serving the previous two years as the worship leader/pastor. What does this mean? Simply stated, I facilitate the second part of our church’s mission statement, “to grow in that relationship with Him.” I’m the point person for home groups and small group studies, and I’m always searching for something which will help our people not only grow in knowledge of Christ, but to grow closer in their relationship.
In addition to my studies (I’m an MDiv student at Luther Rice Seminary) and the fact that I’m married and the father of four children, it makes for a very busy life. How do I prioritize and keep it all straight? It is difficult and overwhelming at times. I am often encouraged by Paul’s work as a tent maker. Sewing together canvas for tents wasn’t his primary job, but he did use it to support himself when needed. I’m a bit on the other side of that, with an eye towards someday being the other way around.
Who knows, though? Because of what my primary job is I’m able to provide some things for people that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. I’ve got the support of my wife and family in doing both, but I don’t want to take advantage of that either. Because I don’t need or desire to be paid by the church that frees up funds to accomplish other goals, whether those are paying other staff members more or giving money away to those in need. It’s extra overhead that the church doesn’t have to absorb.
So, that’s a bit of an explanation of what I mean by bi-vocational ministry. Next week, I’ll explain what I mean by priorities in ministry and life, and how I apply that to my current situation.