Note: People who know Shawna Bowman recognize that she’s a genius. I credit her with this idea of “Bivocational Church” from a conversation yesterday.
Bivocational pastors work part-time in professional ministry and part-time in another field. In a perfect world, that other field would dovetail nicely with preaching, teaching, and pastoral care – say, like a school teacher or social worker. But I also have friends in bivocational ministry who are part-time baristas, bartenders, and construction workers.
The real question is: How in the world does someone serve a church 20-25 hours a week and still equip that church to grow? Sadly, many bivocational pastors serve tiny churches that cannot afford a full time clergyperson and after writing a sermon, leading worship, and making a couple phone calls they’ve used up their 20-25 hours. There is no time for teaching Bible studies, training leaders, offering pastoral care, or connecting missionally with the community. Often churches with part-time pastors can do nothing but maintenance and it’s almost impossible for those congregations to grow. It feels like the beginning of the end for once thriving churches with full time pastors.
But . . .
What if the bivocational pastor acknowledged her/his utter inability to “do it all” and instead invited the whole congregation to be a bivocational church?
Imagine the culture of a congregation shifting with the realization that church is not merely about a “Sunday service” but actually it’s about a way of life? What if the bankers, plumbers, bakers, and waitresses all saw that their life’s work was indeed bivocational because they, too, are ministers?
- We are all called to ministry – at least that’s what my own Reformed tradition declares.
- We are all called to follow the way of Jesus.
- We are all called to a “Christian vocation.”
What if the crux of the 21st Century Pastor’s ministry tasks involved equipping her/his parishioners to do ministry out in the world? Imagine spending 20-25 hours per week focused on teaching others to preach, teach, visit the sick, pray, and shepherd God’s people. What if the bivocational pastor focused on teaching her/his parishioners to be A Bivocational Church?