I am a bi-vocational pastor. Hearing those words may bring certain thoughts to your mind:
“He’s bi-vocational because he couldn’t get a full-time pastor job. He’s probably ignorant or a very poor preacher.”
“He’s bi-vocational because the church is small. Nobody would choose to get an outside job unless they had to. So the church must be close to death and going nowhere.”
I’m guessing these and other thoughts have crossed your mind. In this post I want to explain why I have chosen bi-vocational ministry as a way of life. It is a conscious decision on my part. Here are my six reasons for being a bi-vocational pastor:
1.) It sends a clear message to the church about my motives. I’m not in ministry for money. I didn’t become a pastor to have a career. I became a pastor because I wanted to help develop others into mature and equipped followers of Jesus Christ who worship and serve God in fellowship with one another. I don’t minister to others because it’s my job, I do it because it’s my great joy and privilege as a pastor. The Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2 pointed out that his bi-vocational labor was a proof of the sincerity of his mission. He wasn’t selling religion.
2.) It helps me stay grounded in real life. Pastors run into the danger of living in a bubble. Their whole day can be easily taken up with church activities and family. The world that those they minister to live in can become nothing more than a distant memory. Pastors have a tendency to speak authoritatively on things they know nothing about. Many are totally disconnected from life as experienced by those around them. Bi-vocational ministry keeps me in tune with the world around me. I know what it’s like to balance work, family life, and church ministry. I have nearly daily experiences of being a follower of Jesus Christ in the workplace.
3.) It keeps me focused on biblical leadership priorities. My focus is on preaching God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2), making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), shepherding the congregation (1 Peter 5:2), and equipping members for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). It don’t have time to be a control freak and micromanage all the ministries of the church. My focus is on developing mature and equipped followers of Jesus Christ who worship and serve God in fellowship with one another. Any church where I am pastor will engage in member-driven ministry instead of pastor-driven ministry.
4.) It helps me stay focused on action. I just don’t have time for endless meetings where much is discussed but little accomplished. Meetings become more focused on action. I like to have meetings while I’m doing meaningful stuff with church members. That is, talking and doing at the same time instead of just talking.
5.) It frees up financial resources for the church. The cost of health insurance is skyrocketing. There are social security taxes. The cost of home ownership and operating a vehicle is going up. Nowadays the church may need to provide a total salary package of $100,000 just for their pastor to get by. The high cost of employing a full-time pastor takes away needed resources from others ministries in the church. I’d rather have more resources available to the church for ministry rather than more money from the church in my pocket.
6.) It takes the financial pressure off me and my family. The Bible tells me that if I don’t provide financially for my family I am worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). The need to provide for my family and the financial resources available to the church can be the source of a lot of unnecessary tension. My work in healthcare allows me to provide for my family as the Bible directs. The church is free to provide greater financial blessing as long as the resources are there. If the church goes through some tough times I’m in a better position to roll with it.
Now you know my reasoning. I’m not saying that every pastor needs to be just like me. I’ve studied the Bible and have come to some of my own conclusions about ministry. I do recognize that the Apostle Paul opens the door to full-time paid ministry in 1 Corinthians 9 and 1 Timothy 5. But the right to expect a full-time salary is something I voluntarily give up.
If you are reading this post because you are curious about Grace Presbyterian Church and are considering a visit I’d like for you to consider two things in response to the doubts I listed above.
First, I’m not an uneducated fool. I have a fair amount of education. Sometime if we ever meet and it matters to you, I’ll be happy to go through my resume. I can also hold my own when it comes to preaching. I’m hoping to get sermons our church website soon so that you can hear for yourself.
Second, Grace Presbyterian Church is small right now. But we have big dreams of God using us to positively impact people living in Grenada County. Our desire is to be a church that people who have given up on church find to be a real blessing in their lives.
Honestly, I think it’s worth your time to check out Grace Presbyterian Church in Grenada, Mississippi. You just might find a great blessing from God there.