1. The financial base for church ministry, as well as the pastor’s personal financial base, is usually stronger.
Churches with bivocational pastors usually find that their financial base is stronger because there is not an expected obligation to pay a “full-time” salary and provide expected benefits. It simply means they can put more of their limited financial resources into the other areas of church ministry.
Likewise, bivocational pastors usually have a secular job that can provide for their family needs, such as housing and insurance. The income from his church provides added financial security.
2. The Bivocational Pastor probably will have a better understanding of popular culture.
Because of his work in the secular world, he is in constant contact with average working men and women. He sees and hears about their lives, and is surrounded at work each day by today’s popular culture. Since he is not exclusively working with or around Christians every day, as most fully-funded pastors usually are, he is not as buffered from the “real” world that average folks live and work in. This may allow him to have a better understanding of the pressures, responsibilities, and joys that average work-a-day people face. This unique understanding can help him to be a better minister to his church family.
3. As a Bivocational Pastor working in the public marketplace, he has numerous opportunities to personally witness and minister for Jesus Christ.
As a bivocational pastor, “the other job” is normally in the public and secular workplace. He deals with the general public which is usually non-Christian, unchurched, or non-attending church. This gives the bivocational pastor many opportunities to minister while at secular work. He can be an “impromptu pastor” and counselor to troubled, delinquent and indifferent Christians. Most certainly he is a witness to the secular world in his dealings and quite often may have the opportunity to personally witness to a lost individual about the saving power of Jesus Christ. He can on a daily basis experience the joy of being a witness to people who may never darken the door of the church.
4. The Bivocational Minister often experiences a greater openness and courage to lead.
Leadership is an inevitable part of being a pastor. It comes with the territory. But he must remember that he is not the only leader in the church. There are probably those who were leaders in the church long before he arrived. It is also inevitable that the pastor will have to work with them during his ministry.
Because leadership involves responsibility and control (power), the question will be, “Where will the lines be drawn?” In order to work together, there will have to be some give and take; who will share control, who will give up control and who will take on more control.
The pastor is in a position to assume control because (1) he was voted by the church membership to be the church leader, (2) he has a scriptural basis for his leadership, and (3) he has the responsibility to cast a vision or take control of leading the congregation to achieve the church’s God-given vision.
As a bivocational pastor, he can lead with great openness and courage without many of the fears that his “fully-funded” colleagues may face. Since the scripture teaches that even the greatest, God-led leaders can face significant opposition (Moses, Nehemiah, Paul), pastors may face the threat of dismissal. For the fully-funded pastors, this may mean the loss of salary, housing, insurance, and/or family stability. These fears may cause the pastor not to follow God’s leadership and thus surrender to self-appointed church leaders with an agenda driven leadership. In contrast bivocational pastors are not solely dependent on the church for salary and other areas of need, so those fears are greatly diminished. Therefore, he is enabled to take courage and share with openness the vision God has given him. There is joy in such freedom for a godly pastor.
5. The Bivocational Minister is more able to delegate ministry.
Because of the nature of bivocational ministry, the bivocational pastor has another job which makes his on-field church time limited. This limited time schedule is not a surprise to the church membership and, therefore, the limited time he spends on the church field is expected by the members. The church leadership realizes that they must help with the pastoral duties. So it is much easier for him to delegate these duties without the church feeling that he is shirking his responsibilities.
6. As a Bivocational Minister, you may not be expected to be Superman.
Closely aligned with the above statement, another expectation that the bivocational pastor is not usually expected to be:
“Superman Pastor.” Many times the “fully-funded” pastor is expected to do it all without much aid from the congregation. After all, isn’t he being paid to do it all! Of course it is unrealistic to expect anyone to do everything in the church ministry. But there are those who want a “Superman Pastor,” and wrongly, there are some pastors who try to be him and suffer “burn-out” and depression. Because of the very nature of bivocational ministry, most churches with a bivocational pastor will not expect him to be “Superman Pastor.”
7. Bivocational Ministers are less likely to succumb to the temptation to be lazy with time on their hands.
Although it is NOT common among pastors to be lazy, there can be the temptation to become lazy when there’s not enough to do or just simply too much to do. For bivocational pastors, there’s just not enough opportunity to succumb to the temptation to be lazy. A lazy person cannot do two or more jobs effectively and his maintain employment. Such is true of bivocational pastors. With most, there’s not even time to consider the temptation of laziness!
8. The Bivocational Minister has greater freedom to follow God’s Will.
The “other job” allows the bivocational pastor greater freedom to follow God’s will without the essential concerns of income, housing, insurance and such, that fully-funded pastors must consider when contemplating the acceptance of a call as pastor to a new church. How small and/or limited in resources a church may be, it doesn’t cause him to second guess God’s leadership to serve in that church. This freedom has allowed more than half of churches to have pastors and be a godly force in their community for Christ.
9. The Bivocational Minister’s family often has a more flexible social life.
The bivocational pastor and his family usually does not live on church property, in a church owned house. His home may be elsewhere in the community or not in the community at all. He and his family may have lived in the same house for many years before serving that local church. They have probably made friends in their neighborhood that have no affiliation to that church. Their social range reaches beyond just the church walls. Living in a home that is not church-owned, allows his family to not experience the “living in a gold fish bowl” effect as much. There is a greater sense of freedom, privacy and not living under the spotlight of church opinion and judgment 24/7, 365 days a year.
Chip and his wife Elise, are members at Prattmont Baptist Church, Prattville. They have two children and three grandchildren.