While there is certainly a place for both Bivocational pastors and fully funded church leaders, there are some significant benefits to being Bivocational. Let’s consider five major advantages.
Reason 1: Missiological
Perhaps the most significant reason for being Bivocational is that it gives the church leader greater opportunities to connect relationally with people in the community. Their vocation gives them access to a mission field that is not readily available to a pastor who is employed full-time by a local church. Many traditional pastors find themselves working inside a church bubble, spending most of their time with church people. For a Bivocational pastor, their marketplace job isn’t a hindrance to what God is doing; it’s an advantage to engaging God’s mission.
Bivocational leadership helps to diminish the sacred-secular divide in respect to vocation
Reason 2: Credibility
Bivocational leadership helps to diminish the sacred-secular divide in respect to vocation. The congregation can see the pastor model the fact that all work matters. Regardless of what God has called a person to do, it is a sacred calling. As a result, the benefits of being in the marketplace are multiplied exponentially as every member recognizes how their vocation fits into God’s redemptive mission. Further, when the pastor has a vocation in the marketplace the congregation knows that the leader has a better understanding of what others experience during a work week.
However, working in the marketplace not only builds credibility with those inside the church, but it provides greater respectability outside the church. In a post-Christian context, where people are skeptical of the church, it is important for non-Christians to see that church leaders have jobs like everyone else. In a time when Christianity doesn’t have the best reputation, it can provide significant “street-cred” with those outside the church.
Reason 3: Financial
Another reason for being Bivocational relates to the financial stability it provides in two different areas.
When the primary financial support comes from a marketplace source rather than the church, there is usually less financial strain on a family. This is especially true when the pastor is employed full-time in a vocation that provides benefits like insurance, vacation, and retirement.
A church led by Bivocational leaders usually finds its financial base is much stronger. Without the need to provide full-time salaries and benefits, the church can direct more of its financial resources toward mission and ministry.
Bivocational led churches create opportunities for leaders in the congregation to use their God-given talents to create a culture of participation rather than one of spectatorship.
Reason 4: Empowerment
Bivocational led churches create opportunities for leaders in the congregation to use their God-given talents to create a culture of participation rather than one of spectatorship. When the church leader has a full-time vocation, the congregation understands that the pastor can’t do it all. Therefore, more church members, out of necessity, become involved in the mission of the church. Bivocational leadership helps to diminish the clergy-laity divide and highlight the necessity of empowering all the people of God.
when the primary support for the pastor comes from the marketplace, it often provides freedom for the leader to speak prophetically about the mission and ministry of the church.
Reason 5: Voice
There are times a church leader needs to speak boldly about difficult issues, both inside and outside the church. However, when there is the possibility of offending those who provide financial support, the voice of the leader can be weakened. But when the primary support for the pastor comes from the marketplace, it often provides freedom for the leader to speak prophetically about the mission and ministry of the church.
- Which of the reasons for being Bivocational do you identify with most?
- How can you maximize each of these five reasons in your ministry?
- How might you communicate these reasons to other leaders?