Bi-vocational Ministry – The Good, Bad & Sometimes Ugly

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Church Health, Church Planting, Featured, Uncategorized

There is a lot to consider when it comes to bi-vocational ministry. It would behoove us to count the cost before venturing out. If you are called to plant a church, God will open up doors and pave the way. The question really is: are you willing to take a pragmatic approach to church planting and pastoring? Full-time paid ministry is not the only way.  As a matter of fact, I believe if current church attendance continues to slip, we will see less of this in the future.


There are many good reasons to be a bi-vocational church planter:


1. One of the main reasons is simply to provide for your family.


We need a roof over our heads and food on the table. I love lean organic church planting. What is that? It’s when you overflow into peoples’ lives and a need to start a church is evident. Where we can get confused is within our perception of what church looks like.


I believe we (the body of Christ) are the church. It’s not a building.


Here is the hiccup: We have a tendency to duplicate what we are accustomed to. What if we looked at things differently? What if you had no expectation of pay as a church planter or pastor? What if God was calling to a different expression of “church”. Micro-church and house churches are growing and have many positive factors that should be considered.

If we get caught up in wanting to be the next best thing like ________ (insert the name of your favorite mega-church here), we will start with the wrong heart motive.


2. Another reason to be a bi-vocational church planter is to meet new people.


This is especially true if you are moving to a new state, country, or a different area of a larger city. I believe you need a gift of gathering in order to be an effective planter. Before you gather, however, you will need an avenue to connect. When you work in your mission field (work as a ministry), it’s like killing two birds with one stone.


3) The third reason to consider bi-vocational ministry is to learn more about the community.


It’s one thing to research an area. It’s totally different when you are on the ground and having conversations. Perspective goes a long way and the people you come across will give you more insight than any book, article, or geographical survey.

This is not an exhaustive list but you can see there are many good reasons to consider bi-vocational ministry opportunities.


The Bad:


You will essentially be working two full-time jobs. This can take a toll on your personal health as well as your family life.


Your family is your first ministry and we cannot lose sight of that fact.


This in itself is multifaceted. On one hand, we need to have a balance in which we are not neglecting quality time with the family. On the other hand, we need to be able to manage our family well in order to meet one of the qualifications of an overseer of the church.

“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. Timothy 3:4 (NET)


Another dilemma: Low pay with high connection or higher pay with less connection and interaction.


You can also find yourself in a job where you don’t have any of the above benefits such as connecting and gathering and may not have any interaction with people at all. Depending on your gift set and your willingness, consider taking a job that pays less but gives maximum exposure to other people.

There is a give-and-take aspect to finding the right bi-vo job. Just remember the reason you are there and don’t let the “paying job” sidetrack you from your God-given calling.


The Ugly:


Once you start gathering people, you will be called upon to counsel, advise and give guidance. Some people will not understand the fact that you work a “day job” and cannot leave any time they call.

Years ago, people who were disgruntled, would come and meet face to face in order to talk things through. If they had bad intentions, they would have to put more effort into their reaction – picking up the phone to start the gossip train.

The EGR folks (Extra Grace Required) may want answers and attention now! The ugly part of this is they may not ever express themselves to you directly but instead lambast you and the church on every social media platform in existence.


Some solutions:


From day one, start looking for people who are gifted counselors and life coaches.

Look for people who have a gift of service so you don’t have to do everything. Don’t attempt to do ministry alone. Trust me. There are great people in your area that are high achievers and want to use their gifts to advance the Kingdom of God. They just need to be asked. High-performing, self-motivated people usually are busy so they may not be the ones who respond to a general announcement expressing the need for volunteers. Should tap these folks and ask them to consider helping in a specific capacity.


Set expectations from the beginning.


If you have some type of membership class or breakfast with the pastor, use this time to explain what is the current situation and how they can still reach out when they need help, keeping in mind that you also work outside of the church.

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