The Bi-Vocational Pastor

I am a bi-vocational pastor. I preach on Sunday & sell insurance on Monday.  This was not the original plan but it became a necessary plan in order for our church to grow and for my family to pay the bills. I recognize you won’t read a lot of books about how “cool” it is, nor will you hear many “experts” telling you to pursue this path. Even so, there are a lot of pastors doing it. According to a recent Neue Magazine article by Jeff Cook, which inspired me to finally write this post, as many as 1 in every 3 pastors are bi-vocational.

Many church planters have bought into the myth that in order to be successful you have to be full time. I bought the same myth & have since learned nothing could be further from the truth. I have personally seen God show-up in incredible ways at Centerpoint since I moved to pastoring bi-vocationally. In reality, our biggest season of growth has come in the midst of this bi-vocational transition & I believe that is more than a coincidence. This is the stuff no one talks about but we should. 

When we first decided to make this move there was always an assumption that when the numbers were there, I would come back on full-time. In reality, that is no longer my focusnor should it have ever been my focus.  We’re closer to that point than any in our short history but I’m not rushing. My mindset has shifted from WHEN we can do it to IF we want to do it. The reality is, taking less of a salary from the church opens up our budget to do more in the community & world around us which is what we’re all about to begin with.

There are clear benefits that can come from full-time pastoring & I have seen those results up-close from my many friends who serve full-time in their ministry roles. I don’t know if I will ever pastor full-time but what I do now know is that the significance, worth & impact of Centerpoint has NOTHING to do with my paycheck. 

Some of you reading this are in bi-vocational ministry & question God everyday on why things are the way they are. Some of you reading this plan to be full-time but will end up getting a part-time paycheck for a full-time job. Some of you reading this are getting a full-time paycheck but have felt the call to become bi-vocational & free up your budget to do more good. This post is to give a voice to those who have been affraid to discuss their non-fulltime ministry role for fear of feeling less worthy.

God uses full-time pastors & he also uses the third of us who are bi-vocational pastors. Wherever you find yourself, be confident in your calling & have faith in God’s plan more than you have faith in your own. His plan is the only one that works in the long run.  



2 thoughts on “The Bi-Vocational Pastor

  1. Nick says:

    Chris, I have been bi-vocational for the past four years, the entirety of my pastoral career (so far), and I am very glad that you posted this. While being full time is desirable, there is a genius and a beauty to bi-vocational ministry. Not only does it free up church budget money, it is also a great way for you to make connections with people in the community. I firmly believe that in the case of the bi-vocational pastor, God places specific people in our lives so that we can have a direct impact on them. Not only that, it also gives you an edge to get a clearer sense of what the needs of the community are, and what the spiritual state of the community is, so that you can more effectively love and serve others.
    Let us also remember, that being bi-vocational is biblical. The Apostle Paul himself was a tent maker, and he did that so that he wouldn’t become a financial burden on the church, but rather went out and earned a living for himself with his own two hands. And again, he did this in the marketplace, where the people were.
    Thank you for this post, brother.
    Bi-vocational ministry isn’t always glamorous, but it absolutely rewarding and worth it.

  2. “Isn’t always glamorous, but…absolutely rewarding…” Couldn’t have said it better Nick. Thanks for your thoughts.

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