Some of you reading this post may need to get a new job. At least you may need to get an additional job.
Without a doubt, many churches will always need full-time vocational pastors and church staff. I am not suggesting all of you, even the majority of you, should go bi-vocational. But I do believe more of you should consider this path. Allow me to offer eight reasons why:
1. A secular or marketplace job will put you in the middle of culture on a regular basis. Opportunities to develop relationships with non-believers will be greater. Opportunities to minister to people who would not set foot in a church will be greater as well.
2. Full-time pastors and church staff often get missionally stale in their "holy huddles." Perhaps the best way to break out of that Christian-only huddle is to be employed in a secular position.
3. Smaller churches are increasingly unable to afford full-time pastors or staff. I have written on this site a few times about the flow of people from smaller churches to larger churches. As resources depart from the smaller churches, so does their ability to pay a pastor or staff person full time. But these churches still need pastors.
4. The digital world is offering more opportunities for flexible secular jobs than ever. I recently spoke to an IT professional who is also a pastor of a church. He spends about 25 hours a week in his IT job. He has declined good full-time opportunities in secular jobs because he wants to remain a tent-maker. I spoke to another staff person of a church who is an entrepreneur in the digital world. Those kinds of opportunities are growing every day.
5. More churches are moving toward multiple teaching/preaching pastors. What was once common in large churches is now becoming increasingly common in medium and small churches. Many of these teaching pastors are in churches that cannot afford a second full-time pastor.
6. More churches would like to expand staff, but don't have the resources to do so. This issue is similar to #5 above, but here it refers to bi-vocational positions other than a lead pastor or teaching pastor. By the way, this approach allows church leaders to "raise up" people within their own churches—people they know and trust.
7. A bi-vocational pastor or church staff can have greater freedom than a person in a full-time role. One of the secrets of church life is that many pastors and church staff are hindered from leading because their jobs would be in jeopardy. That is an unpleasant but clear and present reality. If a pastor or staff person has a job with other income, he or she may feel the freedom to move forward without succumbing to such pressure.
8. A bi-vocational pastor or staff person has transferable skills. A number of full-time church leaders have never worked outside of vocational ministry. They don't understand the business and secular world. Bi-vocational ministers have secular skills they can use in their churches. They also have skills to support themselves if they find themselves no longer employed with their churches.
Bi-vocational ministry is a clear and definitive trend in church life. Some of the reasons for its growth are not that healthy. But many are. It is a great opportunity to make a greater difference in this culture in which we live. It is really a great opportunity to be a missionary on the field.
What do you of think of this issue? What are you seeing in your church and others?
Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!
Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.