The vast majority of the pastors I work with are bivocational. In discussing the reality of how bivocational ministry impacts them, there were definitely many real life challenges they face regularly. If they were fully-funded, they could avoid many of those real life challenges.
However, the bivocational pastors I work with also shared some of the advantages they have over their fully-funded counterparts. Few people think about the advantages of bivocational ministry, so I thought I would list them below.
1. Bivocational pastors are not as dependent on the church for their financial support as fully-funded pastors.
2. Bivocational pastors often have increased personal resources because they have two sources of income instead of only one source like fully-funded pastors.
3. Bivocational pastors frequently feel they relate to the people in their congregations better than fully-funded pastors because they “work” just like they do.
4. Bivocational pastors seldom live in a “pious bubble” that only church people inhabit. Their secular employment requires them to interact with and understand better the needs of non-Christians.
5. Bivocational pastors often find more opportunities to witness to the lost than fully-funded pastors.
6. Bivocational pastors often have more realistic sermon illustrations as a result of their increased interaction with the same temptations and difficulties that others in the church face routinely.
7. Bivocational pastors have the potential to have more friends and a greater number of relationships than fully-funded pastors because their social network is larger.
8. Bivocational pastors gain a sense of appreciation for sacrifice.
9. Bivocational pastors have the ability to serve a larger number of churches because they can serve churches that cannot fully-fund pastors.
10. Bivocational pastors experience the joy of allowing churches to fund other needed ministries instead of so much of the churches’ funding going to support their own salaries.
11. Bivocational pastors feel they are better able to encourage the churches they serve to create a culture of the laity using their gifts and the laity devoting more time for ministry since there were no full-time pastors “paid” to do “everything” for congregations.
12. Bivocational pastors often feel it is easier to teach about financial stewardship and/or to solicit contributions from church members.
13. Bivocational pastors frequently express that they feel more dependent on the Holy Spirit in their sermon preparation and less dependent on their formal theological training or on their elocution or research skills.
14. Bivocational pastors sometimes say that being bivocational gives them valid excuses not to attend denominational meetings that they perceived as irrelevant or uninteresting.
15. Bivocational pastors often express a sense a personal satisfaction that their combined income from the two jobs they work allows them to give more generously to the church.
16. Bivocational pastors understand more fully what the church members are giving up when the members devote extra time to attend meetings at church, especially on Saturdays.
Dr. Terry Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church