Help For Those On The Front Lines Of Ministry.

Past Updates

Sep 21, 2006
Bi-vocational Ministry..something to consider

John Maxwell recently said ( ) : The greatest way to enter the pastorate might be for every pastor to be a bi-vocational pastor for the first five years they’re a pastor. I kind of like the idea that you start your pastoral ministry by having another job. I think it makes you prioritize what you’re doing in your church a lot better. It creates a tremendous value for people who have to go out there and work in a world that’s non-Christian and non-sympathetic to the faith. I just think the more I withdraw from the marketplace or from the community and immerse myself in the church, I think the greater the possibility becomes that I won’t be relevant to that community. So for a new pastor I’d say…always do things in secular community where faith isn’t being expressed. Penetrate instead of separate. John Maxwell

I think Maxwell has made three important points here:

1) Prioritize what you are doing.
2) Do things in the community where faith isn’t being expressed
3) Being “bi-vocational” might be the best way to do this

Regardless if you are full time in ministry, in any capacity, I think these are great words.

What is your priority in ministry?
Have you written it out?
Do you reflect on it every day?
Does this priority become the filter for all you say yes and no to?

2) Describe the community that surrounds you (and the congregation you work with)?
Where might you (and the congregation) make inroads?
What leads you to this place?
How can you attempt to reach this “community” without being immersed in this community?

3) Bi-vocational. For most pastors, those of us seminary trained-mainline denominationally affiliated, the idea that we should be bi-vocational is scary. After all, they can’t get “all the work” done now at 62 hours a week. How would they ever get to all the meetings, all the appointments, all the work, the bulletin, the sermon, the choir rehearsal, the turkey supper if they were not working full time. Actually 62 hours a week is one full time and one half time job.
I have been bi-vocational (and tri-vocational) for the last 20 years. I have never “depended” on the denomination for my support. I have never thought that I “had” to have this pastoral job. But I have spent a fair time knowing my community, earning a living, knowing what it is like to travel all week and not want to go to church on Sunday.
And I have known one other tremendous advantage. I have known people who have been given a opportunity to discover and use their gifts and passion for ministry in Jesus name that never would have had those opportunities if I had not been too busy (with my other job) to do all that ministry stuff.

I only have one questions for Maxwell. “If this model is so great, why would you recommend it only for the first five years of ministry? Why not (for most people) recommend this as a life style?”
I wonder…how many pastors would be left if they cut their money in half, so they could be out in the community…yea I know…how would all the work get done? I’ll address that next week.