Okay. So I’m going to rant for a few minutes. It may be scattered, but I want you to truly understand what bivocational church planters are thinking.
We feel called.
I’m an intentional bivocational church planter. I believe God has called me to be bivocational. And this isn’t a temporary thing. I’m planning on staying bivocational. I don’t want to ever take a salary from the church. If the church is a community of believers who keep everything in common, shouldn’t they also share the leadership responsibilities of the church?
I’ve posted on why I’m bivocational. I have been asked, “How can you balance your job and ministry?” To which I responded, “My job and my ministry are the same thing.” I can’t compartmentalize my life between work and church, between secular and Christian. My entire life is to be a life of service to Christ, right?
Bivocational is a true calling. Church planting networks and denominations need to recognize it and support it.
We are modeling what we want our church members to do.
Some pastors expect their members to work full time but also volunteer full time. But most “full-time” pastors don’t really know what it is to work a full time job AND commit hours upon hours to church. If they do, it’s because they used to be bivocational. I am not saying that pastoring is not a real job. What I am saying is that laymen and laywomen (regular Christians) are sometimes asked–expected–to be at three church services a week, serve on a committee, and attend a small group, while at the same time working 40-60 hours a week.
In my experience, the fact that I am working a regular job adds instant validation to my ministry. People are much more interested in what I have to say when they see that I am like them. And those same people will step up and volunteer because that’s what they see me doing. I’ve been a paid church employee. And when you are, people expect you to do it. And with good reason! But if I’m not getting paid, and I’m still busting my butt for Jesus, others will likely step up and do the same thing.
We feel like the black sheep of church planters.
This is how we feel. Trust me. We’ve all been looked down on by other church planters or networks. We’ve all been told by someone that it’s not the best approach. I’ve even heard church planting gurus who you would know make jokes that bivocational ministry isn’t real ministry. And to top it off, there are no church planting conferences for bivocational ministry. I don’t even know that I’ve ever seen a bivocational track at a church planting conference. But it’s probably because we can’t go because they are in the middle of the work week. I’m not bitter or angry about it. This is just how it is.
Let’s face it: Most church planting networks shun being bivocational as a valid method because it doesn’t fit with the idea of a big launch with hundreds of people. That needs to change.
The bottom line: The isolation of bivocational church planting is magnified by the lack of support and resources from other church planters.
We are thankful for those who support us.
I am thankful for David Potete, Casey Cariker, Randy Wilson, Josh Taylor, Jason Taylor, and men in the Illinois Free Will Baptist Home Missions who continually offer support and encouragement. These guys are all full time guys who believe in us and what God has called us to. I am truly blessed to have them in my life. All bivo guys have people like them in their life. Know that you are appreciated.
I’ve opened myself up in this post. This is a raw and honest look at how bivocational church planters feel. Did it hit home? Does it ring true for you bivo guys or does it sound like sour grapes to you full-timers?