In church lingo, the word “bi-vocational” refers to a person who works two-vocations. One is a “secular” job, and the other is a “church” job. At Immanuel, we have two bi-vocational staff members. When I introduce these guys as part of our new member class, I always say they have “real jobs.” That’s not a knock on full time ministry, nor is it a suggestion that full time ministry is less than a “real job.” It’s just my attempt to pay respect to the guys who pull double duty at our church.
We have a bi-vocational missions pastor and a bi-vocational worship leader. While I’d love to have both of these guys on staff full time, there is something to be said for bi-vocational staff members. Here are four reasons I’m grateful for the bi-vocational staff members at my church.
- Bi-vocational staff members have a great work ethic. I suppose this statement isn’t universally true. Surely there are some lazy bi-vocational pastors out there somewhere. I just haven’t met them yet. All of the bi-vocational staff members I’ve had on my team have been hard workers, willing to work two jobs and long hours. That probably has something to do with the fact that a bi-vocational staff member is agreeing to work a second job. Lazy people typically don’t work multiple jobs.
- Bi-vocational staff members save the church money. Money isn’t the only factor to consider when hiring new staff, but it is a critical factor to consider. Obviously salaries are smaller for bi-vocational staff members. Additionally, insurance and benefits are typically paid by the staff member’s “real job.” Typically, these budget savings result in more money being available for ministry and missions.
- Bi-vocational staff members connect your staff to the real world. When you work at a church full time, it’s easy to get lost in a church bubble. It’s easy to forget how the world works and thinks. It’s easy to forget the demands of “secular” employment, as well as the busyness of life for those who work and serve at church. Staff who work in the real world can be a reality check for us in a church bubble.
- Bi-vocational staff members multiply ministry. I don’t want to suggest that lay volunteers are incapable of leading ministries. However, some ministries require an investment of time that is difficult for an unpaid volunteer. Bi-vocational staff members can step into that leadership void and multiply ministry in your church. Considering the size of our church, our missions program and our worship team are both overachieving, and both are led by bi-vocational staff members.
There are many times I wish my bi-vocational staff members could be full-time staff members. Until that day, I’m grateful for the contribution of my bi-vocational guys.
Originally published May 8, 2017 on landoncoleman.com.