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I know that none of us wants a job, because having a job is so normal, and rigid, and bourgeois. It’s unbecoming a person who is destined to greatness. I can’t possibly be here, or there, every single day, doing the same exact things, with the same exact people, people who have never done anything important, people who are perfectly content to never do anything important! I was meant for more! I’m management material!

Maybe you’ve heard people say these things.

Perhaps you’ve said these things.

Or at least thought them.

A couple thoughts:

1. "Work" and "art" are not mortal enemies. They are the left and right hands of process and progress. Every meaningful endeavor in life contains a certain amount of grinding. There is an intestinal fortitude that comes from showing up, every day, holding course, and not giving up. It is the very same resolve one will need to accomplish ‘greater things’.

2. Being broke makes for great stories, but not much else. It’s pretty unreal how a steady paycheck and a few hundred bucks can change what’s possible in the immediate here and now. I’ve also noticed that people are willing to be more generous with an artist or pastor who is already working. How many times has an artist or missionary asked me for money, and in my head I’m thinking, “You could just get a job, right?”

3. There is a part of work, even really hard, physical labor that ennobles and dignifies human life. To wake in the morning and build something, or complete a project has an illuminating effect on the human spirit. I know that lots of people are miserable in their jobs, but people without a job are even more miserable. One of the best ways to fight depression and malaise is to go to work.

4. Abraham, Moses and David were all shepherds, Noah built a boat, Boaz was a farmer, Peter was a fisherman, Paul was a tentmaker, and Jesus was a carpenter – they all had a common life before they had an extraordinary life. In fact, one is a foundation for the other.

Adam Russell is the lead pastor and one of the founders of Vineyard Church in Campbellsville, Kentucky. He and his wife Heather have three children (River, Seth and Magnolia) and also own a local health-food store and a couple acres of wine grapes. 

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Danny Baskin

commented on Apr 11, 2013

A good word. Thanks, Adam.

Joshua Boateng

commented on Apr 11, 2013

This has made my day. Excellent piece

Joshua Boateng

commented on Apr 11, 2013

This has made my day. Excellent piece

Billy Woodard

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Amen to all the above.

Jim Manner

commented on Apr 11, 2013

As a pastor who is bi-vocational, the strains of juggling two jobs are immense. Being a pastor is a strain on its own, but also holding down another job is overwhelming. After you finish 8 hours in one position, you have to find time to research your Sunday message; visit church members; respond to emergencies; prep for the Wednesday Bible study; and more. You burn "vacation days" trying to catch up on church duties. And you have to squeeze in time for your wife and children. And fix the car when it breaks down. And then find time to sleep. I'm not trying to whine or complain, but I also don't want to glamorize or trivialize some of the challenges faced by bi-vocational pastors. If it weren't for the energizing strength of the Holy Spirit and the blessing that is God's love and grace, I would never be able to juggle all this.

Chris Surber

commented on Apr 11, 2013

I appreciate everything you've said. Many local churches wouldn't have a pastor were not it for a bi-vocational pastor. There is value to both bi-vo and full time pastors. Well, both tend to be full time, just one is underfunded for it. Therein lies the real problem. As a full time pastor I can focus on ministry in a way a bi-vocational pastor can't, at least not without the very high likelihood of sacrificing his family time, marriage time, being a mediocre employee at his secular job (which is a poor Christian witness), or sacrificing himself on the altar of sleeplessness and poor self care. In a lot of cases it just isn't healthy as a person to be bi-vocational. More healthy, in what I've see at least, is when a small church pastor has retirement or some form of additional income to allow him to focus on ministry but not overly financial burden a church, especially a smaller and/or rural church. God is using bi-vocational pastors all over the place and blessing them and churches but I would be very slow to glamorize the bi-vocational pastorate. The couple of folks I've known doing it were do so out of necessitous circumstances, not preference or perceived calling to that specific lifestyle.

Joe Martin

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Thanks Adam, I appreciate your thoughts and comments. I have been a bi-vocational pastor for 15 years (small community). I look at it as my Second Mission Field.

John Daly

commented on Apr 11, 2013

A full-time job, 4 kids, preaching every Sunday...makes life interesting. Grateful we are a true elder led church, seriously, no one gets a paycheck. If I had to do more than I do, I'd probably quit.

Clarence Bolton

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Adam - nice article. Jim - you are right where I am. That is why I am looking forward to retiring very soon where I can afford to be a full-time pastor on part-time pay. There is one blessing from being bi-vocational and that is you stay in touch with the "real people" and believe me - this makes sermons fresh!!

Phil Merioles

commented on Apr 11, 2013

I have been a bi-vocational pastor for 15 years, 12 in my present position on the coast of Alaska. I've learned to rely on God more than ever! God has always made a way for us, and blessed us through difficult circumstances! I never set out to be bi-vocational, perhaps its a calling? Thanks for words of encouragement.

Byron Wheatley

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Good Word. Being a bi-vocational pastor it is so important to have the full body of Christ active and engaged to the ministry of the Church being the hands and feet so that the pastor doesn't have to do it all. Plus the congregation of a church with a Bi-vocational pastor shouldn't expect the same things as they would a full time pastor.

David Janusik

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Great words gentlemen. Just worked 60 hrs and preaching Sunday. Couldn't do it without Holy Spirit.

Dr. Ronald Shultz

commented on Apr 11, 2013

I have been doing bi-vo ministry for many years and now that I am too old for most churches I suspect that I will be doing it until I retire from secular work and then I guess it will be a different title as I will then be a self-supported or something since I will not be working. I wrote this some time back that also speaks to the issue. http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-time-has-come-for-bivocational-ministers-and-staff-dr-ronald-shultz-sermon-on-church-general-36586.asp

Robert Lindsey

commented on Apr 11, 2013

I must say having been bi-vocational for 10 years is, well a challenge and quite often a burden on my family, my teaching and my other jobs. I do know that it is needed in some circumstances, but it adds so much pressure on the pastor that I'm not sure that the money it saves a church is worth the strain it causes. I love to teach and preach the Word and have done it for free and would do so again, but I do pray that God opens a door somehow so I can spend full-time to Him and the ministry He has called me to. I agree totally with what Jim Manner said and the honesty with how he said it.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Apr 11, 2013

I was bi-vocational for about the first four years we started our church. It was VERY difficult to put in the time needed for ministry. You can easily become sleep deprived and family time and time for your wife can suffer. I for one am VERY grateful to be able to be a full time pastor. Also I really don't like the way the author makes it sould like if you are a full time pastor or missionary, you aren't really working. All I have to say is "REALLY"?

Michael Farrell

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Even Jesus said to turn your back on everything man considers noble and follow me; Luke 14:25-35. Jesus told his disciples to: "bear his cross", and forsake ALL that he hath...in order that he can give ALL to the work of the ministry, as His Discple. I am not a preacher, just a layman, convicted that our Pastors should focus on the church, rather than a secular job...to make ends meet. We SHOULD provide for our Pastors

David P Ribbe

commented on Apr 11, 2013

"Bi-vocational" is a misnomer for the Christian, creating a false dichotomy between vocation and ministry.

Min. Charles A. Collier, Jr.

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Fellow Preachers, I am new to this site. I read these articles often, and this article struck home. I know some bi-vos. The stories I hear are mostly what I've read here. I am under consideration for a bi-vo Pastorate, and my main concern is just as I've read here: time constraints.I work a physically challenging job, and most nights when I come home, all I want is a shower, dinner, and sleep!1 But, as an Associate Minister at my home church, I've become somewhat familiar with this subject. I leave work and go directly to church to teach Wednesday night Bible study; in my work uniform. I have to find time to study as well, as I am enrolled in school for my degree. No glamor, but, as long as the Lord continues to give me the strength to go on, then go on I shall. I pray for all the bi-vos, that the Lord would continue to bless each and every one of you.

Min. Charles A. Collier, Jr.

commented on Apr 11, 2013

Fellow Preachers, I am new to this site. I read these articles often, and this article struck home. I know some bi-vos. The stories I hear are mostly what I've read here. I am under consideration for a bi-vo Pastorate, and my main concern is just as I've read here: time constraints.I work a physically challenging job, and most nights when I come home, all I want is a shower, dinner, and sleep!1 But, as an Associate Minister at my home church, I've become somewhat familiar with this subject. I leave work and go directly to church to teach Wednesday night Bible study; in my work uniform. I have to find time to study as well, as I am enrolled in school for my degree. No glamor, but, as long as the Lord continues to give me the strength to go on, then go on I shall. I pray for all the bi-vos, that the Lord would continue to bless each and every one of you.

Leandre Marshall

commented on Apr 11, 2013

I agree that being a bi-vos can be taxing, but with good organizational skills, prayer and an assistant it is both possible and rewarding.

commented on Apr 11, 2013

As someone who has recently become bivocational may I make a suggestion to those thinking about it. Get a job as a school bus driver. You go in early in the morning and late in the afternoon which leaves the middle of the day and evenings free. (As well as weekends) As an added bonus you make daily contact with children, parents and fellow bus drivers in your community. Excellent ministry opportunities.

Paul Hooker

commented on Apr 11, 2013

God first, family second, church third. If your children have not moved out,to college or to start their own life, make sure,very sure you set aside time for them. Between your secular job, pastoral duties, normal home duties like mowing your yard, and just a little time for yourself...please, please, please make time for your kids. It is possible to miss out on experiences that you will never be able to go back and get a do-over. All that being said, bi-vo is still good fit, for many of the reasons already mentioned. I just want to impress on anyone considering going bi-vo, make time for your family. Looking forward to retiring from my secular job!

Joshua Speights

commented on Apr 12, 2013

I am a bi-vocational pastor. It is challenging but thank God for Sermon helps, retired members, technology, working members, a good wife, grown and gone kids, a good exercise regimine, and above all a desire to please God.

Joshua Speights

commented on Apr 12, 2013

I am a bi-vocational pastor. It is challenging but thank God for Sermon helps, retired members, technology, working members, a good wife, grown and gone kids, a good exercise regimine, and above all a desire to please God.

James Pickens, Jr.

commented on Apr 12, 2013

This is a great article, It has given me so much assurance knowing that I'm not the only one having to do a juggling act. I work in an inner city hospital as a substance abuse and mental health counselor. I can not begin to tell you the struggle it is to have to take care of home, having to work 16hrs sometimes to make ends meet, and have time for sermon prepartion. I thank God for sermon central, for a praying wife and church family, without them I wouldn't have the strength to do it. I have been feeling very discouraged about my sermons because I don't have much preperation time, and I find myself working on my sermons on Saturdays and finishing them early Sunday mornings. keep me in your prayers and keep in touch peace

Lavon Winkler

commented on Apr 13, 2013

Our country is riddled with small rural churches. Many are lead by bi-vocational ministers. If we didn't have so many folks that are willing to serve in a bi-vocational role these small churches would not exist. Being bi-vocational myself, I certainly understand the long days and many miles. I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him - in serving 25 or 250, its all good.

Carrol Childress

commented on Apr 13, 2013

As a bi vocational pastor with a job that requires 12 hours a day I think often of Paul as a tent maker. I have wrestled with the thought of going full time. It is by God's grace that all things have come together. If it was not for the body of Christ (hands and feet) fulfilling their ministry and the grace of God I couldn't do it. It is encouraging to read the posts. Sometimes it is easy to think you are the only one shouldering the load

Carrol Childress

commented on Apr 13, 2013

As a bi vocational pastor with a job that requires 12 hours a day I think often of Paul as a tent maker. I have wrestled with the thought of going full time. It is by God's grace that all things have come together. If it was not for the body of Christ (hands and feet) fulfilling their ministry and the grace of God I couldn't do it. It is encouraging to read the posts. Sometimes it is easy to think you are the only one shouldering the load

Scott Estes

commented on Apr 13, 2013

I love being Bi-Vocational "full time" pastor! You and I both know there is not such a thing as "part time". I have almost hit my 11th year as a pastor and 13 years as a Principal of my third public school. God has provided us with an awesome opportunity to let our light shine among the unchurched...daily. Honestly, the amount of lost we can reach in one week's time is amazing. If we were full time, would we really get the same opportunity?

Steve Hughes

commented on Apr 13, 2013

I have a lot of comments to make on this topic. However, it is Saturday Evening at 9:09 and I am very tired. Maybe I can join the conversation later.

Paul Melcher

commented on Apr 13, 2013

Truth be told, those to whom I get to minister, is many times the size of the congregation from whom I receive a salary. Perhaps this is God's method of using his people to reach others they would never otherwise see. A blessing beyond understanding.

Paul Melcher

commented on Apr 13, 2013

Truth be told, those to whom I get to minister, is many times the size of the congregation from whom I receive a salary. Perhaps this is God's method of using his people to reach others they would never otherwise see. A blessing beyond understanding.

Lavon Winkler

commented on Apr 14, 2013

Our country is riddled with small rural churches. Many are lead by bi-vocational ministers. If we didn't have so many folks that are willing to serve in a bi-vocational role these small churches would not exist. Being bi-vocational myself, I certainly understand the long days and many miles. I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him - in serving 25 or 250, its all good.

Mary Oewing

commented on Apr 14, 2013

God bless those of you who have chosen to be in such ministry without remuneration. It is not a walk in the path, but is clearly very rewarding. Time management is very important, and the identifying of the "wasted" moments here and there that could be used to meditate for wisdom on the next sermon, a call to spouse to say "I love you" or even just to sit quiety and breathe deeply in order to recharge for the next task. Making the time to break away for a couple of days here and there during the year to take care of self or to plan sermons for several weeks can also be very helpful. The congregation will understand. If you have been called to the ministry in this manner, God will help you.

John Crawford

commented on Apr 14, 2013

Been there....done that..! Seems that a NT brother by the name of Paul did that as well.... I found the sentiment of the minor prophet who said, "I sat where they sat".... to be a good axiom of measurement for "feeling"the congregation. It is obviously important to answer questions people are asking; that happens best by feeling the pulse of the people.His Word can then be the two-edged sword to meet the deepest needs of the flock.

Mary Oewing

commented on Apr 15, 2013

God bless those of you who have chosen to be in such ministry without remuneration. It is not a walk in the path, but is clearly very rewarding. Time management is very important, and the identifying of the "wasted" moments here and there that could be used to meditate for wisdom on the next sermon, a call to spouse to say "I love you" or even just to sit quiety and breathe deeply in order to recharge for the next task. Making the time to break away for a couple of days here and there during the year to take care of self or to plan sermons for several weeks can also be very helpful. The congregation will understand. If you have been called to the ministry in this manner, God will help you.

David P Ribbe

commented on Apr 16, 2013

I attend a church where, for 30 years, all the elders shared the responsibility for teaching, preaching, counseling, and administrative duties. They were all "bi-vocational": professors, dentists, computer analysts, accountants, local business owners, etc. It was only when church membership grew to 800-1000 that a paid elder was brought on board, then a second. Both full-time elders continue to share teaching, preaching, counseling, administrative responsibilities with the other elders on an equal footing in terms of authority and responsibility. No one person is responsible for all the duties or administration of spiritual gifts. All decisions are made collectively and in harmony with the Spirit. Perhaps churches should consider adopting a "plurality of elders" coupled with a "priesthood of all believers" approach to ministry -- it allows many more people to participate in responsibility, leadership, and in the development of spiritual gifts. The problem may be in introducing and developing this type of culture among church members who are used to having a single or leading pastor, but it's worth exploring. Everyone stands to gain in this model -- teaching and preaching elders can have better boundaries for themselves in terms of energy, time, family priorities, etc. And other members of the congregation have the opportunity to develop the skills and discipline of service.

Simeon Ngezahayo

commented on Apr 19, 2013

Sure, this is reality!

Jonathan Filson

commented on Apr 20, 2013

I am a bi-vocational pastor and it is because of that the our church body has a plurality of leadership and the "ministry" is shared as I believe it is should rather than laying all of it on one man who has to be the superstar. I love it the way it is and yes I have 3 kids in Highschool and Elementary -- I am right where God wants me to be.

Bill Williams

commented on Apr 22, 2013

I'm encouraged to see the concept of the plurality of leadership in the Christian church being expressed by others in this forum. This is an issue that I've been studying and thinking through lately, and I am convinced that the current "top-down" hierarchical model of leadership that is so prevalent among Christian churches is not Biblical.

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