According to Ed Stetzer, vice president of research and statistics at Life Way Christian Resources, there has been a trend in the past with many denominational ministers to look down on bi-vocational pastors, unpaid pastors, and on non-seminary trained pastors. But statistics reveal that more of our pastors are becoming bi-vocational for a number of different reasons. Some are due to the economy, low church attendance, or to retain another career if they are terminated, in between churches, or leave the ministry. This may be wise because 50% of the ministers leave the ministry in the first 5 years and only 1 out of 10 ministers will retire as a minister. Printable Version link at the bottom of this article.
The Baptist organization is the leader in promoting and supporting bi-vocational pastors. They report that 75% of their churches run under 100 people, many of which are bi-vocational. The Nazarene Church reports that about 40% of their ministers are bi-vocational. The Pentecostal churches also report a number of their pastors working outside of the ministry due to declining attendance. While George Barna reports that 87% of Protestant churches have full-time ministers, there are concerns that only 7% of our pastors are between the ages of 28-45. The rest is made up of Baby-boomers or older, which may have different financial make-up.
Being a bi-vocational pastor brings challenges and opportunities for the pastor as well as the church. Paul never apologized for being bi-vocational so why should you? Both bi-vocational and full-time pastors are very important in the Kingdom of God. Each have a call, purpose, and similarity. Listed below are suggestions for pastors who are bi-vocational or are thinking about becoming a bi-vocational pastor:
There are many challenges for our pastors today. You are very important in the Kingdom of God, whether you pastor a small or large church, whether you are a part-time or full-time pastor, or whether you are very young or very old.
Each one of you have a special calling on your life that needs to continue until God calls you away from that calling. Too many times, we get tired, impatient, and move on without considering what God wants or whether we have done everything we can do to make this church or outreach the best it could be. I would like for you to “stay the course” and consider some of the suggestions we are recommending. If you need help with anything, such as prayer, a get-a-way for rest and meditation, or advice, we are here for you. Together, we can make this happen!
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