Bi-vocational ministry is an essential weave in the fabric of the church today. It is a common and yet very misunderstood form of ministry, and often even by those involved in it.
The term “bi-vocational” infers that a person has two vocations. If a pastor or minister is bi-vocational it indicates he or she has another source of income beyond the church.
The term “bi-vocational” does not mean “part time”. One may be receiving a partial salary, but in reality he is still a full-time pastor or minister. Perhaps the best way to define a pastor who receives all of his income from a church is “fully funded”, not “full-time”.
In today’s challenging economy many individuals choose the role of bi-vocational ministry over a fully funded one. If you are one of those I assure you that you are not on an island alone. It is important that you accept your bi-vocational role, as a valid form of ministry, but also that you understand its potential limitations.
The bi-vocational minister must avoid the peer pressure and traditional mindset to become fully funded and go full time. As stated previously you are already in full time ministry. In another sense you are already fully funded, except you may be funding your ministry by means of a secondary income. Success in ministry does not equate to being fully funded, but to being in and doing the will of God.
Bi-vocational ministers also need to un-blur the lines between their “secular employment” and their church role. There is no line because you are a child of God 24/7. You are as much a child of God while driving a truck or designing software as you are when praying in the prayer room or preaching a sermon.
I wrote this article because over 20 years of my personal ministry has included bi-vocational ministry. Looking back I have learned from my failures and successes. My desire is to share my learning experiences with others like you.
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Dr. Fred Childs