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Ministry Outside the Box Sep-Oct 2011

 Bivocationalism and the New PastorMinOutBox-Bivocationalism

When I was in seminary, we took a mandatory class on pastoral care. Initially, I brushed it off as a needless requirement to satisfy—until one day in class when two of my friends began discussing burnout in the church and the heavy demands put on local pastors. The conversation ended up leaving me wondering about the future role of pastors in our local churches.

One of my friends, who’s characteristically reserved about his personal life, opened up on the subject. 

“I’m getting to a point where I’m wondering just what my vocational future will be,” he said. “I know my limitations, and I’m simply uninterested in assuming the mantle of perfect superhero to lead a bunch of Christians down some imaginary journey to their own perfection. 

“If I find a church that wants a messed up dude like myself and feels like paying me to be their pastor and offer them what I have ...  I’ll do my best to earn their generosity.

“But I also want to keep my fingers in [my current job] because I’ve developed some great relationships there that I want to maintain (and I think I’m good at it, and I enjoy it). So, if that means that I’ll be doing the sort of bivocational thing, that’s on the table for me.”

His thinking was echoed by many in the class. The people I went to school with were already 
in ministry, leading churches and ministries daily. They’re the pastors, deacons, elders and board members that make up your church. 

I’m beginning to wonder if bivocationalism is going to be a necessary part of the pastorate for the 21st century? I wonder if we’ve created a role in the “superhero” pastor that is, to borrow a business term, not “scalable” for future generations. 

Bivocationalism might provide the healthy distance for pastors and their congregations while alleviating growing economic concerns in many (not all) North American churches.

Paul seemed to advocate bivocationalism. Jesus was a carpenter. I know of one church that requires (yes, requires) the pastoral staff to be bivocational. It forces them as a staff to get out into the community and outside the four walls of their church.

Bivocationalism won’t be for everyone, obviously, but it might be for you. If you’re a pastor, have you thought through what this might look like in your own life and ministry? What would be some of the challenges, some of the benefits? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them with me on Twitter: Justin Wise .net/Twitter.  


Fresh Ideas for ‘iMinistry’ 

Having my iPad now for about a year, I feel like I’m just starting to explore some of its abilities. I started thinking about how to use an iPad in ministry settings. None of these reasons will make you race out and plunk down the cash, but if you’ve been thinking about getting an iPad, this may give you some more fuel (or justification). In ascending order, here’s my list:MinOutBox-FreshIdeas

No. 4: Conference Check-Ins. I don’t know about you, but conference check-ins (at least at the conferences I attend) are a bumblefest. Check-in here; pick up this packet there; stand in the line that coordinates with your pet’s first name. Ugh. What if you had three people standing at each door, armed with iPads, checking people in with a yet-to-be-made app? You check people in at the door, hand them your packet of info right before they enter the conference space, all in one, fluid motion.

No. 3: Whiteboard Apps. What if you could wirelessly connect your iPad to the screens in your worship center? Then, you could fire up a whiteboard app (it may already exist, I don’t know) and scribble away with your finger. Whatever you see on the iPad, you see on the screen. I know more than one pastor who would love to get their hands on something like this. Somebody make it happen!

No. 2: Preaching/Teaching. When I preach or teach, I use notes. Lots of them. But one of my least favorite parts is all the paper. Fumbling around with pages of notes while trying to keep a speaking rhythm together proves difficult (and can make you look like the Nutty Professor).

Enter the iPad. I’ve tried this out now a couple of times and I have to say, I’ve found a winner. It’s pretty simple:

  •  Type out notes like always.
  •  Buy Pages or DocsToGo.
  •  Open notes on iPad.
  •  Rock the message.

No shuffling papers, just an easy scroll through my notes. All in one place. Genius.

No. 1: And the most creative way to use an iPad? Your idea. Yeah, yours. Share with us how you’ve been using your iPad in ministry. It doesn’t even have to be yours. What are some of the ways you’ve seen people leverage this technology to make their ministry lives easier? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them with me on Twitter:


Finding god’s will for your life

Finding God’s will is as easy as asking the question, “What can I not keep myself from doing?” Before you start thinking too deeply, I’m not talking about when you start eating Oreos and can’t stop. Nor am I talking about an unhealthy addiction. This is deeper than mere habit.

MinOutBox-FindingGodI have a friend who literally cannot stop creating. He’s drawing, sketching, programming, creating, thinking—constantly creating new visual art. “I can barely go a weekend without creating something new,” he says. That’s knowing God’s will for his life. It’s God’s call from His heart to my friend’s heart.

So the question is, “What can you not keep yourself from doing?” What seems to flow out of you naturally, sometimes with little or no help?

  •  Mark Rothko painted
  •  Jason Upton sings
  •  Shawn Johnson vaults
  •  Billy Graham preaches
  •  Anne Lamott writes

What do you do? Answer that question, and you’re on your way to finding God’s will.

Justin M. Wise is director of projects and development for the Center for Church Communication (, a resource for church communicators. Follow him online at

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