Why Bivocational Ministry Is a Bad Idea When It Isn’t Necessary

A new idea gaining some traction in vocational ministry these days is purposely choosing bivocational ministry when making that choice isn’t necessary.

I think that’s a bad idea. Let me share why I think bivocational ministry should be avoided when possible.

First, let’s deal with what I believe is a false premise for the new allure to bivocational ministry. The key argument for choosing to be a bivocational pastor is that it provides a greater evangelistic opportunity for the pastor by making new relationships in a secular setting. Of course, if a minister takes on a secular job, it would allow for a new opportunity to make relationships with non-Christians. However, a minister doesn’t have to take on a second job to find opportunities to connect with non-Christians. Opportunities for getting to know unbelievers can be made by engaging with people in the community in a variety of ways and settings without having to take on the responsibility of an additional form of employment.

Further, this idea tends to feed the mistaken notion that the pastor is the person in the church responsible for evangelism. The truth is, the pastor is as responsible for evangelism as are all the other members of his congregation! You wouldn’t expect the members of your church to take on the difficulty — and it is a burden! — of adding a second job just to increase opportunities for evangelism. In fact, while a minister carries out his own personal responsibility of being an ambassador for Christ, it IS his job to equip the congregation for ministry (Eph. 4:11-13), which includes equipping disciples of Jesus to be able to effectively share the Gospel with non-Christians. The idea of unnecessary bivocational ministry takes the focus off a minister’s key responsibility of equipping the saints to doing the evangelistic work himself; let’s keep the minister focused on equipping so that all of the members of the congregation will be trained to share the Gospel.

A key reason to avoid bivocational ministry when possible is the important issue of TIME. Every month, hundreds of pastors quit the ministry for a variety of reasons. Among those reasons is these men have “burned out” by not having enough time to do all that is demanded of them. Of course, too often too much is demanded of them, but I have never once met a minister who has said he has too much time on his hands! Quite the opposite is true — the constant mantra of those in ministry is one of not having enough time to do the things they need to do. To take on a second job means the time for doing so must be taken from somewhere else. That could mean that time given to vital needs will be reduced, such as …

Less time with God. Our leadership will never exceed the quality of our followership, yet ministers serving in full-time vocational ministry routinely say they lack opportunity for spending the time they really need for personal Bible study and prayer. Taking 15, 20, or more hours each week for a second job will likely lessen the time for personal spiritual disciplines. That will affect the minister’s own relationship with God, and the quality of leadership as a shepherd.

Less time with family. Another common complaint from full-time vocational ministers is a lack of time for family. Again, taking a chunk of time from what is currently available to give to a second job won’t help resolve the existing need for more time with family, it will compound it.

Less time for shepherding. Members of congregations today already complain they get little real interaction with their church leaders; by ministers adding a second job, they will get less.

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Source: Church Leaders