4 benefits of bi-vocational and co-vocational ministry
The majority of all ministries in the world are led by bi-vocational or co-vocational pastors and leaders.
Think about that for a minute.
It is a modern-day phenomenon in America over the last 100 years or so to think of most ministries or at least the ideal ministry having a “full-time” pastor or leader. Pastoring has definitely been seen in America and some other affluent places that have a Christian culture, as a profession. But remember, the vast majority of the world, and now even the majority of Baptist pastors in America serve as bi-vocational or co-vocational.
Often we think of the benefits of “full-time” ministry, and there certainly are some obvious ones. However, we need to view bi-vo and co-vo ministry as beneficial. I believe it is the future! Here are 5 Benefits of this kind of ministry:
#1 Ministry Happens Faster.
This is true for those that are looking to plant a church, replant or revitalize a ministry. Often a missionary or church planter can spend a lot of time raising support to just get to the point where they can start the ministry. This is especially true for ministries that are not a part of a denomination that handles their support. Without the need to raise support for a full-time salary you can begin ministry more quickly. Of course, there are some ministry opportunities overseas where there is not a viable option to serve bi-vocationally. Pastors should also view the support raising stage as a ministry opportunity to strengthen relationships and support, regardless of vocational status.
Credibility can go one of two ways for those that are serving in a bi-vo or co-vo ministry. If you are bi-vo, it is temporary, but still respected. The church knows that you are helping them get through a tough point financially until they can support you in a greater way. They learn that you are not afraid of work and are willing to sacrifice. If you are serving in a co-vo capacity, this is not a short-term or temporary deal.
Those that serve co-vocationally, do so intentionally. It is a part of their calling.
God has called them to that other vocation outside of ministry, just as much as He has called them to the pastor.
This also gives you respect in the marketplace and in the church. People can identify with a person more easily that works in a field they understand. The accusation “they are in it for the money” doesn’t really stick as much and hinders your ministry when you serve bi-vo or co-vo.
#3 Financial Stability.
One of the leading reasons pastors want to leave the ministry is over financial instability. Most pastors are overworked, underpaid, and then over criticized. It’s not a good combination.
Pastors are very aware of the accusation, that they may be in it for the money. In return, they are very reluctant to communicate their financial struggles to the church. Often their income is much less than those in the church and in the community.
There are ministries that desire to pay their pastor a fair and livable wage, but sometimes they put the church itself in a place of financial instability when they do so. Essentially the church goes broke attempting to bless the pastor financially.
The bi-vo or co-vo pastor not only eliminates this financial burden for the church but also brings financial security to their own family.
They no longer have to fully depend on the ups and downs of the offering for their livelihood. I believe this also improves the length of tenure for the pastor at a ministry when there is some financial security for the pastor.
#4 Connect with the Community.
A pastor who works in the community connects with the community.
He does so at a different level than a pastor who may not work in the community, even though he attempts to be engaged in the community. Those that work in the community get a greater feel for the people, their lives, their struggles, and their culture. They know what their co-workers are doing this weekend, and they know what community events and organizations they are involved in. The pastor at the local church is not mysterious, un-relatable, or unknown, he works with them.
There you have it, 4 benefits of bi-vocational and co-vocational ministry! Do you know of some other benefits? Please send them my way.