Bivocational Replanting

By Adam Wyatt

A dying church has a host of challenges for a Replanter: loss of missional focus, lack of leadership, a bad name in the community, and a host of other issues. One of the most difficult challenges that a Replanter must face is finances. A struggling church may be able to meet budget, pay all of their bills, or even have a nest egg in the bank, but a lot are not that lucky. Some churches are struggling just to keep the lights on, let alone pay the salary of a full-time pastor. Some potential Replanters may be called to pastor and replant a church that struggles to pay its bills. This can easily cause a pastor to look elsewhere for financial stability for his family.

At least 1/3 of Southern Baptist churches average less than 50 in worship. A lot of these churches need replanting. However, due to the smaller size of these churches and smaller budget, a pastor might find himself serving a church that might not be able to pay him a full-time salary. What is this pastor to do? Wait for a larger church, or a healthier church, or one that can pay him a better salary? Should he not consider serving this type of church? How will he provide for his family?

A pastor must provide for his family; but a Replanter should not simply dismiss a potential church just because they cannot provide a full-time salary. There is another option: bivocational ministry.

Bivocational ministry means that a pastor does something else in order to provide for his family while not being a burden on his church. Bivocational ministry is prevalent in the Southern Baptist Convention. Annual Church data shows 30% of pastors are either bivocational or part-time (not drawing a full-time salary). If you combine this data with a growing percentage of churches that are slowly dying, it is apparent that the need for bivocational pastors will continue to grow.

The Nature of Bivocational Replanting

At its heart, bivocational ministry is rooted in the New Testament. Paul served the church at Corinth while he was a tent-maker (Acts 18:3). Additionally, we know that he worked very hard in trade while he served the church at Thessalonica so that he was not a “burden” to them (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9). So Paul, a man called by God, at times paid his own way to do the ministry that God called him to do. While not always a comforting thought, replanters might need to see Paul as a great example of bivocational ministry.

Having an additional vocation outside of church allows a man to provide for his family while serving a church that needs shepherding. This approach allows a pastor to fulfill his calling of a pastor and meet the financial needs of his family. This takes an incredible amount of commitment. However, if Paul can do it as an “example” for the New Testament believers, why can’t we?

Bivocational ministry gives a pastor a great opportunity to show the church that he is serving it because of the call of God on his life. It shows that he is not there for financial gain but for the glory of God. This can give his church a great opportunity to gain trust in his leadership. By not being a burden on his church, he can pave the way in serving them. It might not be the most desirous ministry, but it is a purposeful opportunity to faithfully serve the Saints in the local Body of Christ! There are hundreds of churches that need replanting and also need a pastor. Many of these churches need a pastor that can be bivocational. Can you serve one?

Published March 1, 2016

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Adam Wyatt

Adam Wyatt is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Leakesvile, Mississippi. A second-generation pastor, he has developed a love for the rural church in the Southern context. He loves his wife, his three beautiful daughters, good conversation, books and coffee. He is also pursuing his PhD in Biblical Theology from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. Connect with Adam @pastor_adam