10 Benefits of Bi-Vocational Ministry

Top 10 Benefits of Bi-Vocational Ministry

I've spent a lot of time thinking through why I did Bi-Vocational ministry. There are more ministry leaders such as pastors and church planters in the urban setting who live the life that I have. This is for the small church pastor, the large church pastor and the pastor who is called to a people who can't fully support his/her salary. This list is me speaking from the perspective as 21 year educator in the role of teacher and charter school principal. This is what I would call "church planting and ministry for the rest of us." These may not all apply to your situation but there are nuggets of truth and wisdom that can be valuable for the way you think through your ministry going forward. The Pastors and church planters I have the privilege of working with all understand where I’m coming from so I hope others will begin to see from this perspective as well.

1. Evangelism is part of your everyday existence teaches your church to be
on mission everyday

When you are in full time ministry you end up becoming part of your own echo chamber. You get stuck behind the walls of your church office and never get the opportunity to meet the people in your community. Sure you may go to Starbucks and bring your laptop to hang out but most of the time you're drinking a latte and working on your next great sermon that’s going to bring in more converts or at least that what you been told. Being a principal and teacher while pastoring a church allowed me to exercise my faith in a way where i has to live it out everyday in ways that were tangible without being overtly Jesus freak.

2. It's a fundraising approach

Your job pays you to be a missionary. When i was an educator and the core people on my launch team were  the same people on my school staff we had the mindset that we were urban missionaries and the state was paying out support! one of the hardest things for church planters and missionary types is always support raising. When you are a person of color by the mere fact that you usually don’t have the financial or social capital that it requires to have a full time salary for full time ministry is frustrating. In addition to that many networks and denominations aren’t giving out 200K packages anymore after either being burnt or realizing they squanders resources to and all they have to show for it is one church that’s still struggling. Being bi vocational is a finding stretchy that’s legit because you allow your employer to be your support raider. It then frees you up from burdening your church from having to give you a full time salary and the money that’s received from offering can be used what the people really gave it for which was ministry outside of Sunday. Now as a pastor i can get up on Sunday and frees to preach the gospel and not focus on being a fundraiser on Sunday. Neither would need to be stressed about coming up with the next sermon series on giving in order to meet funding gaps.

3. Discipleship happens intentionally

not only would it help me introduce people to Jesus but it also allows one to walk with their coworkers through life’s ups and downs. You build community with people who you spend the majority of your time with who may end up being members of your church. Think about it. If you are truly in mission where you work and you get to pray with them in the lunchroom and laugh with them in relaxed settings when you go out for happy hour. The truth is that people are more apt to open up about their lives to you when you actually know them deeply outside of a Sunday service.

4. Requires less overhead and burden on the church startup
You can spend funds on things that matter outside of people who are gracing the stage in Sunday. Know your resources can be marked toward outreach evangelism discipleship and small groups. You can put those resources toward supporting a new church plant in your city or around the world. Now when you look at your budget and do a percentage break down you’ll actually spend 70% Of programming the great commision  and 30% on people and buildings.

5. No need to serial plant in order to keep income flowing

to denominational leaders and church plant networks that find planters understand that the reason why some people are serial planters is because they have to keep income flowing. When you get initial funding it’s good for the first three to five years but once that church is the peak and if it’s is not wildly successful by the numbers and differing isn't as much as it had been from the beginning they will leave and  plant again. It’s not to say that God hasn’t called them to the apostolic work but when someone hasn’t had a stable line of work you have to take a second look as to why. Being bi vocational allows a steady stream of income without the stress of knowing where the next check will come from or if the offering will be enough to pay the pastor salary or his/Her assistant

6. You can look to your future because you build up your retirement account

One of the learnings  and advantages I’ve gotten as a bi-vocational pastor is my 403B retirement account because I worked for the state. Now that I️ work for a Christian next profit I’ve been able to set up another 403B account that allows those seams savings as well. Being able n full time pastoral ministry a know of lot of stress comes about when one has to figure out what type of ira or retirements are available to you. If you decide to do bi-vocational work look into retirement because when you’re done pastoring many of the urban pastors I️ know have to go until they are too close Ms to enjoy the retirement life because they had to depend on that churches giving for sustainable income.
In addition to that it doesn’t burden the ministry to have to raise additional income for benefits and insurance such as medical and dental. Now the pressure on the spouse doesn’t have to be as stressful and maybe he/she can pursue God's call for their lives knowing that they do not have to stress about keeping income to keep the house afloat. It also allows you to save towards a college savings plan for your children and for family vacations when you need to take one (every year you should take one).

7. You actually get to shepherd people outside of Sunday

as the pastor of the church you become the pastor of your job Monday through Friday. You get invited to the quince era. You get invited to the birthday parties and the anniversary celebrations. As a matter of fact they before n to ask you for marital counseling because most of the times people who don’t go to church need church community because they are disconnected. Bi-vocational ministry gives to that time to walk with people through birthday and even deaths of loved ones. I remember being principal of a middle school and our secure guard side rly passed away at school. The kids were traumatized. I remember having to do spiritual counseling outside of what the professional counselors could provide. It’s interesting in public school settings where you can’t talk about God but when tragedy hits the preacher is the first person we look for. I understand that tension and i am ok with it. I did the memorial service for our school officer to a school of 600 kids in our auditorium. Who would have imagined that when i stood before the student body that had me day i would be taking my text in James about life being a vapor and giving my sermon title “The Dash.” That’s what bi-vocational ministry is really about. Outside of the financial implications the true fruit of it are lives that are changed effected and influenced by your pastoral presence outside of Sunday morning.

8. It gives you something to preach about and celebrate on Sunday

how many stories of redemption and transformation can you tell about on Sunday that you were directly engaged in? My guess is not many because as a full time pastor you are stuck behind the office desk of the church stressing about budgets, buildings, and bodies for the m Dr Sunday. If you lived a bi vocational life you get to participate in what God is already doing in the crib. Your sermons become refreshing as you tell the story of the husband who was going to leave his wife but decided to stick in theirs after he prayed with you in the lunchroom. You get to tell the story about the person you worked with in the cubicle next you and the opportunity you had to minister to them when they were struggling because of the loss of a loved one. Sunday morning becomes a wellspring of praise and thanksgiving for what is happening in the church because that one Sunday your coworker shows up after a year of you inviting them to worship with you. I mean they shoes up to your Halloween event your beach party and the picnics but it took them a year to get there for Sunday morning. Hey that’s ok because now they are here and want to serve with you because they know you outside of Sunday morning.

9. Your elder board don't get to control and threaten you with your position

now here is something that we won’t admit as pastors or a lawyers. Depending on your governance structure you are always beholden or accountable to someone. That is healthy. We all need someone who can ask us the hard questions and keep us focused on the call. In unhealthy governance though often times deacons and elders and trustees and boards that are not healthy will threaten the pastor with his/her job when the vision of what they want the church to be doesn’t line up with yours. As a result you can get a mutiny on your hands and end up having to succumb to the wills of the deacons or elders versus the will of God. The reason why is because they hold your financial livelihood in the hands of their vote against you or for you. No leader wants to live like that. When you are bivocational it frees you from the tyranny of pleasing people. You can actually live out your call in the ministry without having to compromise the vision i order to keep the peace with the trustees. When boards understand that they give you the frees m to lead and to go in faith in directions they May not understand at the time but thank your for much later when that vision comes to pass.

10. You develop a skill set and build capacity that fresh traditional seminary grads lack
I just graduated from Fuller seminary but before that i graduated with a masters in education and administration. This was because i was a Charter school founding principal. The skill set i gained and learned being an educator i could not have gained as a seminary student wit a theological degree. As a principal i learned about teamwork, gathering leaders for development and equipping. I learned how to evaluate talent and have crucial conversations when things weren’t going well. I️ leaned goal setting and vision casting. I learned how to talk with people on the streets and recruitment. I learned how to read budgets and set them up. I learned about grant writing and meeting major donors. These skills were developed in me long before i decided to plant the church. It actually has given me the advantages that i needed as an urban pastor.

So, after 9 years of pastoring my church plant I’m still bi-vocational. Albeit my full time work is for a Christian nonprofit. In this season God has allowed me to put into upcoming pastors and leaders to share with them these things that i have learned over the years. My only challenge now is that i don’t find myself in much of the non christian circles as i did before. Maybe it’s because God has me in this season but who knows i May end up back in education doing a lot of what i did before helping to demonstrate the gospel in settings that are normally of limits to Jesus freaks  like me!

Peter Watts