There’s a rift between full-time ministers and bivocational ministers.
The rift is simple, though dangerous: There is a perception among full-timers that bivocational ministers are a lower class. Why would I say that? Because I’ve heard it straight from full-timers mouths. I was a little shocked the first time, but now I’ve almost come to expect it. It may be in the form of a joke or it may be outright, but on several occasions, I’ve heard full-timers demean being bivocational as a valid way to minister.
And the rift goes the other way as well. Some of us bivocational guys look at contempt at some full-timers. I’ve been guilty of it myself. Some are even jealous of the success that others have in the ministry.
When we first accepted the call to move to Chicago to plant a church, I wasn’t aware of this schism. I had been working as a bivocational youth pastor for seven years, and most of my friends in ministry were also bivocational. It wasn’t until I started meeting and talking with church planters and church planting experts that I met this wall head-on.
It’s not everyone. Certainly not–but trust me, it’s there. And friend, this rift should not be.
So how do we move forward?
To my full-time minister friends: Accept bivocational as a legitimate way to minister, not just out of necessity, but also out of choice. When you demean bivocationalism, you are demeaning God’s servants. It’s hard to put a number on it, but some estimate that as many as half of SBC pastors are bivocational. As a Free Will Baptist, I wouldn’t be surprised if our number is that high or higher. And it’s not just that many are doing it today (and will continue to during a tough economic time), but that this is seen as the preferred method of the New Testament church. How did we get from bivocational being the preferred method of ministering to it being scorned?
To my bivocational friends: Let it go and do what God has called you to. Not everyone was wired to pastor a large church, nor should everyone reach for that. Keep working. Fight the good fight, and be not weary in well-doing.
To all: Find your value and identity in Christ, not in your accomplishments in ministry. After all, it is God that gives the increase. When you do, what the other guy is doing is something you can rejoice in, not be aggravated with.
Have you seen this? Have you been guilty of it?