Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Five Beneficial Reasons Why Pastors Should Switch to Bi-Vocational

Bi-vocational ministry is something that has been around for a long time. It basically amounts to pastors working two part-time jobs: one as pastor and one out in the normal job sector. I realize that most pastors aren't going to quit their pastoral jobs like I did. However, full-time salaried pastors should at least strive to become bi-vocational. This change benefits both them individually and the church as a whole.

Five reasons why this change is beneficial:

1. Bi-vocational ministry shows and/or reminds pastors just how difficult it is to work a normal job.

2. Bi-vocational ministry forces pastors into regular contact with the real world.

3. Bi-vocational ministry demands that the rest of the church body perform more ministry.

4. Bi-vocational ministry relieves some of the financial burden on the church.

5. Bi-vocational ministry frees up more money to be given to those in need and toward missions work.

The big issue is that when pastors become bi-vocational it improves the health and vitality of the church as a whole. This alone is enough reason for pastors and churches to pursue it.


Aussie John said...


All very valid points. Ministry is theoretical, at best, when that vital contact with reality that others face daily,is not part of life.

Tim A said...

7. Bi-vocational ministry is the first step towards "ministry free of charge" where you can finally be a reproductive teacher- as in "fully training" your students to be "like you" Luke 6:40; 2Tim 2:1,2..

Tim A said...

Over at outofur.com, now called Parse, they have a post pointing out that pastors have a hard time connecting with laymen, specially the younger generations. They have a plan to fix it, with conferences that gathers pastors to work on this issue. The problem: "They have no theological foundation for affirming the work of their members outside the church. And they lack examples to follow as they seek to adjust their ministries to reach these young adults."

Then they make this typical ministry elitist statement that deprecates the ministry value of marketplace ministers: "You will also have the opportunity to interact with your peers in ministry..."

They have a status wall around clergy-ness. There is a systemic relational deprecation of those who are in the marketplace. It is as deep as their soul. They don't even know when they talk clergy lingo waves this systemic arrogance flag to everyone. Perhaps you remember talking this way, or perhaps you have always been sensitive to this deep seated corruption.

CTS said...

Arthur Sido said it best in a recent post: "When you have hundreds of years of religious tradition coupled with the majority of those subcontracted by the church to be professional clergy clinging to a [corporate] system that provides their compensation... people have a hard time separating the church from the institution."

Because the current hierarchical corporate model is considered by a majority of Christians today as the biblical model of church, any changes or challenges to that model, including bi-vocational pastors, will probably be seen by the majority of clergy and members as an affront not just to "their" church, but to the body of Christ as a whole. That, along with the expected protectionist attitude of those who make their living from this model and the majority of Sunday morning pew warmers will unfortunately continue to solidify the corporate church model as the predominant model of what is seen and acceptable as the true "church" until the second coming.

We need to look no further for evidence of this conclusion than the Jewish church/temples of Jesus' day. Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and all the Apostles spent and gave their lives trying to both live and articulate a "solution" to the Jewish church, which, as you and I well know was the Ekklesia (church) Jesus instituted under the new covenant. Seeing how that solution has worked for the Jewish church since the resurrection (still going strong), I expect the same results for the corporate church for the foreseeable future.

The solution, as I see it, lies within each individual believer. When God reveals a truth in scripture contrary to that which is being observed, it is incumbent on any follower of Christ to make the necessary adjustments and comply with the truth, especially when that truth is measured against the mere traditions of man. I believe the bi-vocational approach side-steps the issue and weakens the position of those who believe it’s not biblical. Paid pastors is either biblical or it’s not! Luke warm is not somewhere I wish to be on an issue that so greatly affects the church.

We also need to remember that almost every difficult issue regarding converted Jewish believers addressed by the writers of the New Testament had to do with their "coming out" of a religious institution they had been grounded in for hundreds of years. (Interestingly, Jesus said He would build His "Ekklesia," which literally means the "called out") It will be the same for anyone who decides to “come out” of the corporate church today. The Apostle Paul made the case well in Galatians that coming half-way out of Judaism was not an option and also detrimental to the church, I would think coming half-way out of vocational ministry is not an option either.

I would expect no less a push-back on this issue from the clergy and the majority of members today than what Jesus and the Apostles experienced from the Jewish leaders of their day.

That being said, I do believe a dialog on this issue needs to begin.