Bivocational Ministers

Bivocational Ministry seems self-defining. Yet it is a mystery to many in the church. When I think of Bivocational minsters, I’m reminded of a U.S. Marine Corps commercial I’ve seen often on TV. Applying the ad to these ministers, I think of “The Few . . . The Proud . . . The Bivocational.” Like the Marines, they are dedicated to their task; they are up to the task; they are trained to execute and complete the task, and they will get the job done! Without them, most small, rural churches would be leaderless and possibly give up and close their doors. Churches need pastors; pastors need churches.

Who They Are:

Generally speaking a Bivocational minister is one who has a paid church position as well as, at least, one other paid job. Included in the term are many retired ministers who willingly serve small churches. He does not have to do for a local church what he does, but is moved to do it by the purest and highest motivation possible – God’s calling on his life. The Bivocational are not just pastors, but also music, youth, and education ministers and even Associational Directors of Missions. For the purposes of this booklet, the term “Bivocational” will primarily refer to pastors.

“Bivocational churches”

“Bivocational churches” are much harder to determine. Many do not think of their church as “Bivocational” because they see their pastor as their “full-time” pastor. They do not define their church according to the pastor’s other vocation. They assume that if they meet every Sunday for Bible study and worship, they are a full-time church.

How Many:

So how many churches in Alabama are “Bivocational?” A rough guesstimate would be about 54% according to the annual church reports. And that percentage is growing. Actually, it would be much more than that if you count the churches with various Bivocational positions. It may well be more like 90%. Needless to say, Bivocational ministers and churches make up the majority of Alabama Baptist churches and ministers. Although they may be in the background, they are indispensable.

Bivocational Ministers Resources

astoral Enrichment Network
A Network of Fellowships designed for the Bivocational Minister

What is PEN?

Pastoral Enrichment Network (PEN) units are groups/fellowships of pastors that meet within Baptist Associations to enrich the members for the fulfillment of God’s Call in their lives through encouragement, equipping, and enabling. PEN was developed by the Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence at Samford University in partnership with Gary Farley, one of Southern Baptists’ most experienced rural ministry consultants. Though the principles involved would be of help to any pastor, the focus in the development of the PEN units has been the bivocational pastor.

A PEN unit is made up of ministers who meet monthly for two to three hours. The primary elements of each meeting are content, reflection, discussion and prayer.

The goals of PEN are –
– Provide information to pastors that will be of value to them
– Provide an opportunity for reflection and discussion, focusing on application in their lives and ministries
– Provide enrichment through fellowship and prayer

Pastoral Enrichment Network units –
– may use any name
– are led by the Director of Missions or a seasoned pastor
– meet at the time that is best suited to its members
– select materials based upon the needs and interests of the members
– may include special events from time to time
– may meet in conjunction with seminary extension or other training models that are already in use
– may include those who are called to ministry but have not yet served a church

The “network” aspect of PEN goes far beyond the group meetings. The members will begin to relate as friends and partners in ministry. Though great resources and very helpful instruction may be received during the process, it will be the relationships that will have the greatest impact upon the members. That is one reason for using the word “network” rather than group or meeting.

Learn more about how your group can be funded by viewing our funding guidelines page and downloading an application.

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