Covocational Planters Trailblaze a New Perspective on Ministry

While at first it may seem that holding a full-time job could distract from a ministry calling, for three Send Network church planters, the opposite is true. Alex Dixon, Oscar Coronado and Ian Lee have each leveraged their careers to propel God’s calling on their lives to plant churches.

Alex Dixon – Pursuit Church in Shaler Township, Pa.

Covocational church planting was not initially in Alex Dixon’s plans, despite feeling a call to ministry since coming to faith at 17. To support his growing family, Dixon jumped into a full-time career immediately after completing his undergrad but questioned why God did not open doors for vocational ministry. “I needed to learn that ministry was not a position,” Dixon said, “but it was a heart and a lifestyle.”

Today, Dixon works remotely as a project manager for a construction company, and he’s chosen to office at a local coffee shop in the Shaler Township of Pennsylvania, where he plans to plant Pursuit Church this coming year. Through a friendship with the shop owner, the Pursuit Church planting team is building inroads in their neighborhood by hosting a weekly Bible study at the coffee shop, participating in a local fall festival and joining the community to serve the homeless this Thanksgiving.

Dixon said, “Me, my family, and our team being able to be a regular and consistent presence there [the coffee shop], has opened up the door for opportunities.” Events like these are helping Dixon’s core team build deep relationships with people in their community, providing avenues for gospel conversations in their post-Catholic context.

For Pursuit Church, Dixon said that the covocational planting model is “providing a framework for other qualified men on our team to see pastoral ministry is not necessarily something you have to get paid to do as a full-time pastor. It is not out of the question for them to aspire to the office of pastor.”

Oscar Coronado – The Church at Remerton in Valdosta, Ga.

Several years ago, Oscar Coronado began feeling a growing frustration about what seemed like a gap between his career in real estate development and his ministry. “Thinking that, well, ‘I have one life with work and a different life — a church life,’ that doesn’t work,” Coronado said.

At the time, Cornado and his wife had recently started an ESL ministry for the many Spanish speakers at Redland Baptist Church. Gradually, the ministry expanded into much more than just ESL classes as the Coronados and their church started helping internationals integrate into the community by aiding them in finding housing opportunities and jobs.

Last year, The Church at Remerton launched from the outflow of the Coronado’s ministry and has grown from 12 to 60 people. Many have started to visit the church by first attending ESL classes. Since this Easter, the church has seen eight people make professions of faith and more than 20 believers reengage with a Christian community.

By leveraging his career, Coronado is now replicating this phenomenon for the apartment complexes he helps develop. He connects local churches to new communities to help provide services such as financial literacy programs, reading classes and children’s activities, opening doors to share Christ. Coronado said, “You really experience freedom when you take the gospel wherever you go.”

Ian Lee – The Family Church in Port Moody, British Columbia

When Ian Lee accepted God’s call to move from Korea to Vancouver, Canada to reach the lost, he did not expect God to reveal business school as the next step. Lee’s schooling eventually led to a career in commercial banking, but he has never doubted God’s unique plan for his life.

“God called me in both contexts,” Lee said, “as a pastor of a local church and as a commercial banker. And I see now that there’s no difference…God is working exactly the same way.” Through the marketplace, Lee has been able to establish friendships and have gospel-centered conversations with unbelievers, including a Muslim friend he is praying will come to Christ.

However, sharing the gospel in everyday life goes beyond the marketplace for Lee and his family. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lees found themselves spending a lot of time at the playground with their children. They started to meet other families from their community and began striking up conversations about Christ. Eventually, their circle of “playground people” turned into a church plant made up completely of non-believers gathering in the Lees’ home every Sunday morning.

Since then, the Lees have seen several families come to Christ, get baptized and take their faith with them as they have relocated to other provinces. This past year, God miraculously provided a meeting space inside a community center for The Family Church to gather.

Lee said, “God’s leading me to live in the context of the world, but He is still with me to establish the purpose, plans and goals of His Kingdom wherever I might be.”

Published November 6, 2023

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