The life of being a bi-vocational minister is really a work of art. There is no set formula for bi-vocational. It is a navigation that changes with time. It ebbs and flows through the entire history of a missionary. It cannot be considered a strategy. It is a chosen way of life. To me it is the future of ministry in the fields of mission in N. America.
This Saturday, June 20th, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Westmont Commons, we will gather to discuss and learn from each other about all things Bi-vocational. I’ve had a growing frustration over the misunderstandings and wrong expectations that continue to swirl around those leaders entering ministry as bi-vocational. So we’re getting together to talk about it. I’ll lead three sessions beginning with a 20 minute summary of my take on three topics. Then an hour of discussion. We’re thinking 30 people will show up. It will be small and conversational. We’ll have lunch. At noon.
Here’s the three topics.
1.) Looking At The Way You Make Money Differently
Being bi-vocational means you look at money, career, job skills entirely differently than the average N. American. How you go look for a job will be different. What you will expect when you start a job and what your expectations for money, job advancement has a whole new logic to it. Where you start in a job has little to do with where you will go or whether you will stay. You will focus most intently on learning a skill, becoming very good at it so as to eventually be able to manage your time within structures. This is a long term strategy not a short term one. This is a skill for life. There may come a time, due to your gifts for ministry being blessed where a church will ask you to step down from using your job skill to devote more time to ministry. Nonetheless, you will keep up with your skill. It is a badge of the revolutionary to have a job skill in ministry that is other than ministry.
2.) You Will Pastor With At Least 2 Other Pastors (Minimum)
As a bi-vocational pastor you will necessarily work with at least 2 other pastors. I strongly recommend that no one begin bi-vocational ministry alone. Each pastor will devote no more than 15 hours a week to the organizational functions of ministry. Together, the 3 (or more) pastors function as a “community organizers for the Kingdom.” They will learn to know each other in their gifting in relation to the others. They will know each others’ weaknesses. They will learn to stay within their limits and trust God for work that is left undone. This will foster a culture of participation versus spectatorship. They will work to organize and empower other leaders. The leadership structure will work out of mutual submission, not hierarchy. This will push leadership and power outward. The whole leadershp culture will grow in submission to one another and the whole community.
3.) Bi-Vocational is not Two Jobs – It is One life
Bi-vocational is actually a misnomer. There really is no “bi.” The life of bi-vocational is one life lived under one Lordship. For many North Americans, this will take cultivating a new imaginary. Many Christians cannot help compartmentalizing their lives. They separate their work life from their family life from their church life. They seek balance. They seek to maintain control. But the life of bi-vocational calls the family, the work and church leadership to be under one umbrella. All are brought under submission to Christ and His Lordship. Though we my get paid for leadership in the churchy, it really is not just another career path or a job. It is part of who we are and our calling just as being a father/mother, a worker, is. And so as you enter ministry you must be able to rethink how you see/understand yourself in the world as a ‘pastor.’ It requires an entirely different imaginary. See this post here.
Time and again, I’ve seen bi-vocational nearly destroy a person on one of these three issues. What other issues do you think are important? If you have the time (this Sat 9-2 p.m.) , it’s not too late to come and join us here at Westmont Commons. Just make sure to sign up HERE (because we’re having for everyone).