The nature of church planting here in NE Ohio is such that bi-vocational ministry is not only the norm, it is all but a necessity. Of the 26 or so churches in our local association, I know of only 2 or 3 with full-time paid church staff. The rest are led by talented, capable, passionate men who split their time between the burden of the Word (a burden we gladly bear), and the burden of a secular job (a burden we necessarily bear). I have much to say on the topic of bi-vocational ministry, and perhaps I’ll share more at a later date, but for now, here are 10 confessions I think most of my fellow bi-vo pastors would agree with. I share them not to complain, but rather to help those of you who worship in churches like mine to better share your pastor’s burden, to better lift up your pastor in prayer, and better minister to him in his daily work.
***Not surprisingly, many of these have to do with time or the lack thereof. I suppose they could merit a blog post all their own but this will suffice for now.
1. I rarely have enough time (as much as I’d like anyway) to feel properly prepared to preach.
2. I rarely have enough time to do other ministry tasks like visit shut-ins, discipleship, or evangelism.
3. I never feel like I have enough time to spend with my family. This is THE greatest burden on the list.
4. If I’m not very careful, I can easily become resentful of other people’s free time and finances, especially if I know they’re not supporting the church. There are only so many pictures I can see of your second vacation this year, or your brand new vehicle, or the baseball tournament you attended instead of coming to church before my heart rebels and I have to take it to God in prayer.
5. When people fail to support the ministry of the church, I have a very difficult time NOT taking that personally. I’m pouring my life and soul into this and when you don’t take it as seriously as I do, that feels like a personal insult.
6. I’m even more frustrated than you are by slow growth in the church and/or lack of change in the people to whom I minister.
7. I’m really, really tired. Like, all the time.
8. I’m working harder at this ministry than anything I’ve ever done before. We’ve all heard the old jokes about the minister only working one day a week and frankly, they’re not funny. 90% of the work I do is behind the scenes and no one ever knows about it. That’s ok. I don’t want recognition. I just want you to know I’m working really hard because I love this church and I want to see it impact the Kingdom of God.
9. Financially speaking, I’m just barely making ends meet. I didn’t go into the ministry to get rich. You won’t see me on TBN. But Scripture says that the workman is worthy of his wages and that you shouldn’t muzzle the ox while it’s working. In every church I’ve ever been a part of, there are some people who are doing their best to support the church financially, and others who aren’t. Those who are make my job easier. Those who aren’t make it more difficult.
10. I feel like a failure most of the time.