Jesus was a carpenter. Peter was a fisherman. Paul made tents. Many pastors today, in churches new and old, also work in a trade or profession.
Like Jesus in his incarnation, bi-vocational pastors enter fully into the world of their people. They experience the riffs and roils of the workplace. They engage with “real” people in an increasingly pluralistic and secular culture.
They meet the neighbors we are called to love (Lk.10:25-37), learn names and stories, discover interrelationships, and encounter human brokenness firsthand. From a strategic position within the community, they serve, encourage, and witness.
The challenge of simultaneous service in church, workplace, and home is immense, like an “ironman” triathlon—a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2 mile run. It is a grueling race, without a break.
Bi-vocational pastors accept the cost. Like David when he purchased the threshing floor of Araunah, they insist on paying the full price. “I will not . . . sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chron. 21:24)
They rely on God to order their days and give strength for the work. They know that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa. 40:31)
When the cost is counted, and this strength received, bi-vocational ministry is one seamless vocation for Christ—in the home, church, and workplace.