About eight months ago, I joined the growing number of ministers who are choosing to take on another job while also serving in congregational ministry. Some choose to do this for financial reasons (their own or their congregation’s), while others do so out of a sense of mission. For me, this decision was purely missional, as it would give me an expanded platform for ministry.
And that’s exactly what has happened.
The opportunity to train leaders at the Department of Human Services has put me in a position to shape the culture of Oklahoma’s largest state agency and have meaningful conversations that impact the lives of (literally) thousands of people in a positive way. Through this platform, I am making Jesus known to larger numbers of people and I am humbly grateful for the opportunity.
Here are 7 things that I’m enjoying about bi-vocational ministry…
- It has restored my sense of mission. All Christians have been given the charge by Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations;” through my new role I am going into the world – instead of waiting for the world to come to me – for the specific of purpose of making Jesus known to others through my secular job. This makes every single day an exciting day!
- It has expanded my platform for ministry. Through my second job, I am interacting with people I would never have an audience with otherwise. In these interactions, I am very intentional about the way I treat others and speak to others, as I want them to experience the grace of Christ through me. Already, I have had the opportunity to console people in a time of loss, pass on some marital and parenting advice, teach others how to have healthy conversations, answer questions about the Bible, and explore with others what Christianity teaches about diversity and inclusion. All of these conversations have been with nominal Christians and non-Christians. God has placed me in a setting that is bursting with ministry opportunities!
- I am meeting more unchurched people than ever before. I am now in the middle of lostness and can minister to people who may never set foot in a church – and this is good for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am seeking to be helpful to others, but being around unchurched people on a regular basis is helping me better understand the needs of the unchurched and giving me a perspective that will make my preaching more effective.
- I have a renewed appreciation for the Gospel. My now-regular interactions with non-Christians has given me an even greater appreciation for the Gospel of Christ. Seeing people struggle to make sense of the world without a Christian worldview further highlights the logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevancy of Christ’s teachings.
- I am able to bring the light of Christ into the darkness of the world. I have seen firsthand, in a secular setting, how impactful the kindness of Christ and the fruits of the Spirit can be on others. Last month I received an email from a high-ranking person at DHS that contained the following message: “You are an absolute gift to this Agency. You bring a calm and kindness to everything you do that is evident from folks’ first interaction with you.” That message is less about me and more about the power of the light of Christ. It inspires me to shine that light brightly, and I hope it motivates you to do the same in your context.
- It has increased my commonality with church members. Sometimes church members diminish the example of full-time ministers because they see them as some sort of “professional Christian.” This shouldn’t be the case, but it is. Well, now, when I preach about evangelism or discipleship or spiritual disciplines, I am doing these things within the same type of environment and the same type of work pressures as our members. I now, also, have a more thorough understanding of the day-to-day life stresses of our members and am able to speak more directly to these.
- I have a clearer vision of the church. The professionalization of ministry can cause ministers and church members to view the church as an organization that must be led instead of as a people that must be served. The church – pure and simple – is a group of Christ-followers through whom Jesus makes himself known to the world. The move to bi-vocational ministry has allowed me to shed many of the unrealistic expectations that people have of ministers and approach my ministry to and for the church as an offering of the gifts God has given me for his Kingdom-purposes. This has been so freeing and has reminded me of the true purpose of the church – and it’s causing me to fall in love with the church all over again!
I am, and will always be, a Minister and a minister. The things I am enjoying about bi-vocational ministry have put me back in touch with why I love ministry. Every day, you and I have the opportunity to point people to Jesus by using the platforms of our jobs, no matter what they are or where they are, to minister to others in the name of Jesus.
What could be better than that?!!!