When I was “coming up” in the school of ministerial thought, almost everyone going into ministry was going in with plans to be full-time (meaning they would draw a somewhat comfortable salary). Many of us aspired to eventually serve a church that paid well and was large enough to give us bragging rights. Those of us with that thought (I’m shamefully including myself here) viewed bi-vocational ministers (those who made their primary living by doing something else) were a lower breed who couldn’t get a “good church”.
The tables turned for me in 2014. I resigned the pastorate at the end of 2013 because I was finding myself to be a divorced minister which still does not set well with many churches. A church of 25 as its worship leader with the belief that divorce had not nullified my calling. It was different at first, especially because I had a difficult time finding another source of income. No one wanted to hire someone whose only training was religious. I had no “skill”. Then God graciously allowed me to serve as a hospice chaplain. My view for bi-vocational ministry has changed.
I have several friends now who are bi-vocational. Here is what we have discovered – we can reach more people for Christ being out in the real world than we can being forced to spend most of our time in a church office. That’s not rocket science! Please understand I am not bashing those in full-time ministry (rather those receiving full-time pay). Working a regular job (although I’m still called “the preacher” by many of my patients) allows me to more freely minister and be more effective. Patients in their last days care more about the Lord than many comfortable people who clock in for Jesus and plop their rumps in a pew for an hour each week. When that time comes for me to go back into a paid church role, no church can threaten me with taking my salary away.
Many people think that megachurch is the thing. It has some things to offer that smaller churches don’t. At the end of the day, do you feel a sense of connection and genuine spiritual growth in that large church? Do you love to spend time with the people outside the building? Everyone says “bigger is better”. Yes, we want to reach more people for Christ. I also believe we need more churches. In my months of searching, it was so difficult to find the real deal. I have way too many friends that can’t find a place that won’t judge them for not fitting their spiritual checklist. They need a safe place. It is high time we rethink church and go back to what it was in the book of Acts.