We’re at the end of a discussion about why bivocational ministry is a needed, and positive, idea for the church. To read the beginning, go here.
6. It forces you to build teams
I mentioned it in the first post, but one of my biggest struggles with bivocational ministry has been this idea of focus. I really believe it’s powerful when someone can discover their core passions and giftings, hone in on the thing they do best, and run hard toward that goal. Seth Godin talks about the power of being the best in the world at what you do and not letting other things distract you from that focus.
Well, if you’re ministering bivocationally, you’re guaranteed to have a divided focus. How does that work? First, I think it’s important to do your job well. I would never want my employer to feel like they’re getting anything less than excellence because I’m a Christian involved in a church. So, “slacking” (giving anything less) in that arena isn’t an option.
Instead, you have to realize you can’t do it alone, focus in on your core gifts, and build good teams to do the work of supporting the church structure. I think the core leaders’ main jobs should be meeting with, encouraging, and investing in other leaders. Honestly, all churches should look like this. But in a more traditional model, it’s easier for the main pastor to believe he or she can carry the load alone. Often they’re talented people who can carry it – at least for a while. But it ends up wearing them down, hampering the growth of the church, and robbing others of the chance to use their gifts. But when you’re bivocational, you have no choice! You can’t do it alone! Your first goal has to be building a team to sustain the work of the church.
So there are a few of my thoughts. As we wrap it up, I think it’s important to say that “bivocational” isn’t just about having to have a “secular” job (though something outside of the Christian world is helpful). Instead, it’s about your machine for making a living coming from outside of the church. I believe pastors are perfectly within their rights to “make a living” from ministry. That’s not the issue. It’s about what is sustainable for new models of church. So whether it’s a job in a separate field in which you’ve been trained, as a manager at the local Starbucks, or as the head of a non-profit that supports and enables the church, I believe that something outside the church that keeps you in the community and engaged with society can be healthy for both the church, and the minister.