Most churches in America are ‘small churches,’ having less than 100 people. Most of these churches have a bi-vocational pastor; one who does not receive full-time financial support from the church they serve. Having an outside job may be part of a plan.
But there is a growing movement of intentional bi-vocational pastors who will remain so regardless of the future growth of the church. Others take the path of vocational ministry from the start through various means. Still others will start out bi-vocational with the anticipation that at some point they will transition to full-time vocational ministry.
Making the transition from bi-vocational to vocational can seem like a dicey proposition. Faith and obedience will obviously be at the center of the decision, but there are several things to consider, including the make-up of the leadership team and size of the church.
So when should one move into vocational ministry? When should churches make this all-important decision? Three questions can help guide you and your churches if you are considering this decision.
First, “Can we afford this?”
This kind of decision warrants that finances be at the core of the issue. Any conversation that doesn’t include financial feasibility is not helpful. I’m not suggesting that money is the determining factor. God calls us to take steps of faith that involve not seeing the end result. But he also expects there to be wisdom in the transition.
A bi-vocational pastor who believes it is time to move into vocational ministry should figure out the financial number that person needs in order to make the change. Then, it’s best that 75% of the funds should be there. You don’t really have to wait until the church is at 100% because if you work hard and well, the momentum will actually grow the church enough that you can make up the rest of it soon thereafter.
When adding a second staff member, the church should be at 50% of what they should get paid before hiring that person. Within a year, you should be able to grow that and you can repeat that pattern and move people onto vocational staff.
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Source: Christianity Today