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Bi-Vocational Pastors

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If your ministry is only one of your jobs, here are 12 tips to make the road a little smother.  

In light of the fact that 50 percent of all North American churches have 75 people or fewer, many pastors do not receive full salary from the church they serve. This forces them to consider options such as finding other employment on the side or having a spouse work to help make ends meet.

  1. Guard your attitudes. Sometimes it is hard for those “called into the ministry” to accept the fact that they may have to work “secular” jobs at times. These are understandable feelings, but will lead to bitterness of heart and cripple our ministries unless we overcome them.
  2. Look primarily to God. It is easy to become resentful toward people if we look to them as our sources. God is our ultimate employer and provider, not the church.
  3. Beware of get- rich-quick schemes. A pastor desperate for additional sources of income may be vulnerable to the allure of multilevel marketing and other “easy money” systems.
  4. Assess the hidden costs of having a spouse that works. After the cost of travel, food on the road, child care, house cleaning etc, you may find that it is cheaper for them to stay home. A job or career is often times more of an outlet or escape. Check all the motives and the real cost involved.
  5. Make the most of the situation while you’re at it. Working a secular job can actually have many overlooked benefits other than just additional income: contact with unchurched people and experience with realities of work environments.
  6. Define your ministry. Bi-vocational pastors should beware of trying to have a “full- service” ministry. You need definite limits and boundaries. You cannot do everything, so you must have a clear focus for what you will handle.
  7. Educate the church. They need to clearly understand your time limitations so they don’t form unrealistic expectations.
  8. Guard your family times ruthlessly. Your time to be with your family is likely to be limited, and this requires careful scheduling and refusing to allow unnecessary interruptions.
  9. Don’t neglect your health. Those who burn the candle at both ends are likely to run out of wick!
  10. Develop a realistic plan. Unless you are willing to remain a bi-vocational pastor the rest of your life, you need a realistic and concrete plan for how you will make the transition to full-time ministry. Dreams without plans seldom come to pass.
  11. Cut your greener-grass preconceptions. Many bi-vocational pastors are filled with great expectations about the additional time and fruitfulness they will have if they go full- time into the ministry.
  12. Deal with your fears.