Monday, October 11, 2010

Working the Bi-vocational ministry

We, as average church pastor's often face the challenge of making ends meet. Many of us have experienced the concern for the financial state of our church, and concern for making ends meet for our own families. Many of us have to supplement our income through work outside of the church. Many churches understand this need, while others seem hard pressed to understand that the minister's family has needs.

I have worked in a variety of jobs through out my time in ministry and in training for ministry. I always tried, as most ministers do, to work a job that would not interfere too much with my ministry needs for the churches I have served. I have worked as an early morning stock person, which left afternoons and evenings to minister and visit in the church. I have worked as a substitute teacher, which if you get to know the school well, offers flexibility to say no if there are emergencies that arise. I spent time working in restaurant work in the overnight hours, which again offered afternoons and evenings free for ministry. Then there was a couple years I worked a few days a week in grocery sales. While the grocery sales called for a full days commitment, it left most of my week free.

Some things I learned early on in regard to Bi-vocational work. First, keep your church informed of what you are doing and the hours you are making available to them. One of the concerns of parishioners is when and how they can get in contact with you for counsel or needs. You may want to print regular office hours, or available times in your bulletin, or other obvious place.

Second, be honest and upfront with your employer from the get go. There will likely be minor conflict with in your heart when crisis' arise; however, these times are less than we often think they are. You need to let employers know your first priority is your ministry, but that you will work diligently in all that you do. We must remember our witness in our work will be scrutinized more, because we have made our stand of faith. When you are upfront about who you are and what you do I have found for the most part that my work has not overshadowed my ministry.

Third and most important have faith that God will see you through. It takes faith to be honest with employers at the start, because we all know there are hundreds of people applying for the same job. Yet, I have found that God will open the right door of opportunity to meet your needs and fit your schedule. Often living in faith becomes a good witness to your church and those you work with at your job. It also helps you in facing your church with the reality that you have to work to add support to your family, which unfortunately seems at times to be the hardest part of the whole situation.

Remember you are not alone in your plight. There are probably more pastors working at least part-time outside of the church than do not. Be encouraged that Paul supported his ministry as well. Trust God and be diligent in the care of your family, as well as the care of your ministry. May God bless you in your ministry, your witness, and your work.

Keep on your journey with Jesus today

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Busy Summer, but I am back

It was an extremely busy summer this year. I took two Master's classes through Asbury Seminary, one on campus. I had the pleasure of spending a week in Wilmore, and through out much of the surrounding area. It was good to learn about the rural ministry of the Appalachian area in the class. It was inspiring to see small communities and churches in a fresh light. It was also encouraging to remember we are not alone in our work as small town pastoring.

Keep on your journey with Jesus