Multiple Hats: 5 Advantages of Bi-Vocational Pastors

Jeff wears multiple hats. He pastors a church and works full-time in the medical field. After a long night shift, Jeff and I met at a local coffee shop. Although I knew he must have been exhausted, the topic of local church ministry brought about an energy and passion in his voice.

In the midst of talking about current trends in ministry and the needs of churches, Jeff made an interesting comment that caught my attention. He said that he preferred bi-vocational ministry because of all of its advantages.

He went on to explain that even though many full-time pastors have given him the “bi-vocational pastoring is second-rate vibe,” he sees things differently.

The advantages to bi-vocational pastoring that he shared with me excited my heart and caused me to wonder if God might be preparing to raise up a new generation of pastors from men who already have careers in progress.

For years, older pastors have worried that there may not be a shortage of new pastors to carry on the ministry. However, taking bi-vocational pastoring into consideration immediately multiplies the pool of candidates. And, once you read about these advantages, I think you’ll see them as “first class” candidates! Here are some advantages of bi-vocational pastoring to consider:

1) Trust: Congregations naturally trust the motivation of men who are willing to work another job for the privilege of pastoring.

2) Stewardship: Smaller churches do not have to bear the financial burden of a full-time salary. For this reason, many church planting efforts begin with bi-vocational pastors stepping out on faith.

3) Teamwork: Church members are more apt to pitch in and volunteer when they know the pastor works a full time job outside of the church just like they do and still finds time to minister.

4) Relevance: A pastor who works outside of the church is less likely to lose touch with what happens outside of the “ministry bubble.” Even more, a secular vocation can aid in relating better to lost people as well as his congregation.

5) Sanity: Jeff said his full-time job actually helps him keep his sanity. In fact, he said, “I don’t know how full-time pastors deal with all of the pressures of the ministry without some sort of escape.” I’m sure there are plenty of full-time pastors who can’t imagine how a bi-vocational pastor deals with his busy schedule. It just goes to show that God creates different men for different kinds of ministry.

My heart was touched by Jeff’s passion for bi-vocational ministry. It caused me to think that God might be raising up a new wave of these “tent-making” pastors to lead a revival in small churches across our nation. Wouldn’t that be glorious!

So no, these men are not “second rate” pastors. They are brave, courageous, hardworking giants of the faith. My hat (singular) goes off to them.  

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ScottAttebery@churchleaders.com'
After serving in campus ministry at the University of Central Arkansas and coordinating student conferences for the Department of Church Ministries from 2000-2005, Scott pastored Wyatt Baptist Church in El Dorado Arkansas. In 2008, Scott’s wife, Jill, passed away in an automobile accident. He recalls, “God used our Church to be Christ to my family and me during that time.” After seven years of pastoring, Scott was selected as the Executive Director of DiscipleGuide Church Reources, a department of the Baptist Missionary Association of America. Scott’s most important ministry is to his son, Bryce.