Thursday, September 30, 2010

On bi-vocational ministry

My Associate Pastor (who is bi-vocational) and I were talking about some recent statistics from our denomination, which show that more than 80% of the congregations in the PCA have memberships below 100. His comment, to which I fully agree, was that, "bi-vocational ministry may be the best hope for the future of our denomination."

Along that line of thought, here is a great post from a guy named Todd Hiestand, called "10 Suggestions/Thoughts on Bi-Vocational Ministry".

I don't know Todd or his circumstances, but as someone who has served in bi-vocational ministry myself (and who works with an Associate Pastor who is bi-vocational), his thoughts and suggestions all strike me as spot-on.

Here are his ideas:
1. Try and find a second job that feeds your gifting and passions in some way.
2. Try and have your second job be a career type job and not just a part-time placement where the only positive is that you make money.
3. Do what you have to while you search for that kind of second job.
4. You better really be ready to sacrifice a lot.
5. Be more committed to the Church than your career as a pastor.
6. If you aren't prepared for it to be hard, it's way to easy to become bitter and resentful.
7. You better be willing to admit that you can't do it all.
8. Make sure your spouse is on board.
9. Be ready to learn how to be self-disciplined.
10. Being bi-vocational isn't more spiritual or better than being a full-time pastor.
11. Being bi-vocational has both positive and negative aspects to it.

Todd expands on all of these in his post. Be sure to read the whole thing.

I'm a bit curious about a couple of the commenters who take issue with #10, and who seem to be cynical about pastoral ministry in many ways. I've never encountered that before, and at first I was surprised by the fact that such a viewpoint existed.

Otherwise, though, I highly commend this post to you.


Dr. Terry Dorsett said...

Not only is bivocationalism the best hope for the future of your denomination, it is the best hope for the future of MOST denominations. What we need right now are practical tools to help bivocational ministers be as effective as possible in their ministry without burning themselves out. Consider the new book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, published by CrossBooks. You can find it on

Ken said...

I have been "somewhat" bivocational on different occasions. I'm sure this is covered in the post, but just thought I'd say it... it's a great opportunity to actually meet nonbelievers, and also a great opportunity to avoid platitudes in your sermon applications (because you know how hard it can be to apply!).