A growing number of church leaders are walking in two worlds and are finding, in the process, that their bivocational status connects them to people and ministry opportunities they might never experience if they were full-time pastors.
To be sure, working as a pastor while holding down a full-time job outside the church carries plenty of challenges, including time management, lack of respect and an absence of role models and training. But it offers some advantages too, including financial and spiritual freedom, ministerial longevity and church volunteers empowered for ministry.
What role will bivocational pastors play in the Church in the future? The leader of a church planting network shares his thoughts:
The Bivocational Leader of the Future
If the Church is going to plant the number of churches it needs to reach the world, the bivocational element will be an essential part of fulfilling the Great Commission, says Todd Wilson, director of Exponential Network, an alliance of church-planting networks.
“We’re not going to get where we need to go in terms of an actual church-planting movement in the West without the bivocational piece,” he explains.
But the current model of bivocational ministry will have to be different, Wilson says, as he relates an emerging idea among church leaders that megachurches would become the distribution system for incarnational church planting in America.
The bivocational of the future is not going to be about pay; it will be about role and releasing people to do ministry where they are.
“When we talk about bivocational ministry, there are so many dimensions to it,” Wilson says. “The bivocational of the future is not going to be about pay; it will be about role and releasing people to do ministry where they are. For example, I live 40 minutes from the church I attend. I’m not going to convince my neighbors to drive 40 minutes to church with me. What if my church equips, coaches and supports me to start a church in my living room? I don’t quit my current paying job, but my church releases and sends me to minister to my neighbors and essentially be a campus pastor.
“There is no way to start talking about all models of faster church reproduction without talking about the bivocational piece because there’s no way we can reproduce the pastors we need using the paid staff model. We’re definitely looking at the future. With that kind of mindset changing among these leaders of high-impact churches and the incarnational community—there’s no way this is not a God thing.”