Back then (almost 15 years ago),
we weren’t talking much about bivocational ministries.
I came across this blog from Chuck Lawless on Tom Rainer’s site. He provides some compelling reasons for promoting bivocational ministry. BVM is nothing new to pastors among racial/ethnic and poorer communities, along with certain streams of pentecostal and charismatic churches.
For me the most telling sentence is the one quoted above. Something dramatic has happened in the last 15-20 years. The landscape of the historic mainline and mainstream evangelical churches has shifted dramatically, as a part of the much larger and broader changes taking place across our modern/postmodern world. Those are too many to catalog here. What we do need to recognize is how significant the shift has been and how it impacts clergy incomes and relationships to congregations.
I graduated with my Master of Divinity in 1996, and it never occurred to any of us (at least not straight white guys – no, there’s also not room to unpack all of that here) that we would struggle to find a life giving and meaningful ministry staff position where we could support ourselves and our families. Only a few years later and the majority of seminary students ought to be thinking seriously about a parallel or alternative source of income, and one preferably that they can also see as a meaningful contribution to the world and God’s reign.
- How are we helping current and prospective seminary students prepare themselves for this new reality with hope and expectation, not a defeatist “well, if I have to…” attitude?
- How are we helping congregations think differently about their expectations visavis the roles of clergy and laity in ministry leadership?
- How are we helping current clergy adjust who, like myself, were not trained or prepared for any career options outside of a local congregation?