Jeff wears multiple hats. He pastors a church and works full-time in the medical field. After a long night shift, Jeff and I met at a local coffee shop. Although I knew he must have been exhausted, the topic of local church ministry brought about an energy and passion to his voice.

In the midst of talking about current trends in ministry and the needs of churches, Jeff made an interesting comment that caught my attention. He said that he preferred bi-vocational ministry because of all of its advantages. 

Advantages? That caused my ears to perk up.

He went on to explain that even though many full-time pastors have given him the “bi-vocational pastoring is second-rate vibe,” he sees things differently.

The advantages to bi-vocational pastoring that he shared with me excited my heart and caused me to wonder if God might be preparing to raise up a new generation of pastors from men who already have secular careers in progress.

For years, older pastors have worried that there may be a shortage of new pastors to carry on the ministry. However, taking bi-vocational pastoring into consideration immediately multiplies the pool of candidates. And, once you read about these advantages, I think you’ll see them as “first class” candidates too! Here are some advantages of bi-vocational pastoring to consider:

1) Trust: Congregations naturally trust the motivation of men who are willing to work another job for the privilege of pastoring.

2) Stewardship: Smaller churches with bi-vocatiobal pastors do not have to bear the financial burden of a full-time salary. For this reason, many church planting efforts begin with bi-vocational pastors stepping out on faith.

3) Teamwork: Church members are more apt to pitch in and volunteer when they know the pastor works a full time job outside of the church just like they do and still finds time to minister.

4) Relevance: A pastor who works outside of the church is less likely to lose touch with what happens outside of the “ministry bubble.” Even more, a secular vocation can aid in relating better to lost people as well as his congregation.

5) Sanity: Jeff said his full-time job actually helps him keep his sanity. In fact, he said, “I don’t know how full time pastors deal with all of the pressures of the ministry without some sort of escape.” I’m sure there are plenty of full-time pastors who can’t imagine how a bi-vocational pastor deals with his busy schedule. It just goes to show that God creates different men for different kinds of ministry.

My heart was touched by Jeff’s passion for bi-vocational ministry. It caused me to think that God might be raising up a new wave of these “tent-making” pastors to lead a revival in small churches across our nation. Wouldn’t that be glorious!

So no, these men are not “second rate” pastors. They are brave, courageous, hardworking, giants of the faith. My hat (singular) goes off to them.

4 replies on “Multiple Hats: 5 Advantages of Bi-Vocational Pastors”

  1. Thanks! I accidentally slid back into bivocational ministry 14 years ago. It took a while to adjust to the idea, but I have been discovering the advantages which you have pointed out. I appreciate your encouragement. I have also noticed that much of the growth and visitors we have had now come from contacts made through my other vocation. It allows me to form natural connections with people and more doors are opened through those connections which is exactly what I have asked the people at church to do. I get to model being a witness wherever I am.

  2. I find I have more connections with non-church members. I also have been able to do “marketplace ministry”. I work at a public school, and after a recent tragedy, I was called upon to help staff a grief center at the school. Since the students already knew me, they were more comfortable opening up to me.

  3. We also have a pastor who is bi-vocational. Faithful to God, to his family, and his ministry. I have no idea how he does it, but come Sunday God always shows up. I’ve known several pastors who have lost touched with the “sheep”; the ministry of loving God, loving people has been replaced with loving self more than other people.
    I respect our pastor for being bi-vocational – I have no idea how he does it – but we daily pray for him.
    Btw – he’s name is also “jeff”… (wink)

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