Bivocational Profile: The Very Involved Volunteer

coaching-cartoon-peerprograms-ubc-caMeet Jack. Jack is a volunteer at Your Community Church…and is involved. Very involved. So involved, he’s often misunderstood to be a full-time staff member. Not like Jack seeks to milk the myth; he’s just really passionate about serving people. Jack is a newly wed and works 30-40 hours a week as an Apple specialist at Best Buy. He has no kids, but dreams of having them, which is partly why he commits 25-30 hours a week as a volunteer in the youth and tech ministry programs. In the rare case, he’s caught up on both work and church, Jack can be found hanging out with senior high youth at the rec center or movie theater.

Challenges:

  • Time management is weak.
  • Tendency to over-exert is high.
  • Little time for family and peers due to heavy workload in church and out.
  • Unbalanced priorities with respect to community overall.

Opportunities:

  • Is able to use IT skills in both spheres.
  • Uses church community as a bridge to bless colleagues at work.
  • Is constant in loving people, allowing non-churched and churched peers to trust his counsel and encouragement.

The challenge is real…and so are the opportunities. Do you fit into this profile? What are some other challenges or opportunities you have encountered? Share in the comments below.

Photo credits: volunteerswmi.org & volunteerweekly.org

New Series: Bivocational Profiles

When we talk about the bivocational, no two stories are alike.

For one thing, we’ve all been unique designed by a masterful Creator, not to mention blessed with a special set  of characters, challenges, and opportunities that paint the framework of our calling.

Perhaps some of you have wondered what your framework looks like or how your story relates to others out there.

If this fits you, well…let’s just say this validates a BIG reason why we’ve created this resource.

So for the next five Sundays, Lyssah & I are going to talk about five bivocational profiles most relevant to our time and place.

What is a bivocational profile? Basically…it’s a category to classify a group of similar stories. True, each story is divinely set apart. But at the same time…many gravitate towards certain “molds”.

So as we discuss these molds the next couple weeks, feel free to share your input and/or story in the comments  below.

As always, we look forward to hearing from you as we learn and grow together.

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Bivocational Profile #1: The Part Time Pastor

church-easter-sunday-01Meet Pastor Joe. Pastor Joe is the pastor at Your Community Church. He preaches, teaches, visits hospitals, marries, buries, and even mows the lawn. Pastor Joe also works 30 something hours a week as a middle school teacher. He has a wife and two kids. In any given week, Pastor Joe is lesson planning and counseling a depressed congregant. He can most likely be found reading Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the book of James while cheering his daughter on at soccer.

And people have the nerve to call him a “part-timer”.

Challenges:

  • Work-life balance is non-existent
  • Tendency to burn the candle at both ends just to keep all his plates spinning
  • Difficulty giving family the attention it needs
  • Occasionally distracted by the responsibility he is not currently working on
  • Living up to “full time” expectations in multiples areas of life

Opportunities:

  • Readily understands the pressures faced by his congregation as a worker in the “real world”
  • Is constantly exposed to new technics and tools in his job that can be used in his ministry
  • Access to non-churched families with opportunities to show Christ’s love…without being perceived as a “pastor with an agenda”

Our hats are off to you Pastor Joe. ‘Cause truth is: you are the furthest thing from “part-time”.

The challenges are real…and so are the opportunities. Do you fit into this profile? What are some other challenges or opportunities you have encountered? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Photo credits: simplydisciple.com & collectionpicture.net

Why Part-Time & Bivocational Aren’t the Same Thing

Have you ever wondered why some people associate bivocational with “part-time” or why others relate time to effort?

I know for me, it’s easy to perceive the answers through a marketplace lens; however, when we talk about bivocational ministers, we ultimately discover a new lens altogether.

First off, when I say “part-time” in a ministerial context, I’m referring to pastors who balance multiple “full-time” loads inside and outside the church. The specifics may differ, but in general, a part-time pastor is a bivocational pastor who has accepted two or more vocations.

shutterstock_202214332_0With that said, I strongly believe pastors should never be labeled “part-time” since it’s not possible to limit pastoral responsibilities to 20 hours a week…not to mention the term is widely misunderstood.

Cause truth is: Regardless if a pastor is bivocational or not, every pastor is (or should be) on call 24/7.

True, it may be hard for some to be “on call” depending on their job’s requirements; however, just because a pastor may juggle multiple jobs doesn’t mean he lacks the time or energy to put in a full-time effort at church. Rather, it simply means he has to be resourceful in how he stewards his time, whether investing in rest and family at designated intervals or temporarily sacrificing personal conveniences to develop people and new skill sets.

At the end of the day, whether a minister is bivocational by choice or necessity (i.e. financial limitations and/or a specific seasonal call of God), the point is “part-time” pastors still carry full-time responsibilities.

And in a time when living costs are increasing and church membership is decreasing, the reality is bivocational ministers are becoming more essential in leading the church while modeling its purpose outside of it.

No wonder many bivocational pastors consider their greatest call to be on call regardless of where they’re at.

Stay tuned next time when we’ll dive into a brand new series on bivocational profiles.

Cover photo from www.bivocationalpastor.com and www.sojo.net

Coping With the “Part-Time Perception”: Part 4

Last time, we talked about the third way a pastor can shatter the ‘part-time’ stereotype without compromise.

Today, we’re going to discuss strategies that can help a bivocational minister create an atmosphere of effective communication.

No matter what stage a ministry or church is in, one of the key common denominators to effective functionality is communication.

Without communication, even the grandest of visions ultimately fade.

I mean…think about it. Without dialogue…without intentional engagement both in-church and out, it’s only a matter of time before disconnection sets in.

Perhaps some of you know what it’s like to have a God-given dream loaded with potential turn into a pumpkin without warning or what it’s like to lead a group of people plagued by disunity. While experiences vary, chances are somewhere along the way…there was a communicational breakdown.

So clearly, communication is imperative when we talk about sustaining vision and maintaining mission.

And when we talk about a church mixed with full-time and part-time staff members, it’s fair to say the challenge only increases.

Consider the open road. We would all agree when it comes to driving on the interstate, the most ideal setup is all cars moving at the same rate of speed and direction. When everyone is driving in harmony, people arrive to their destinations on time.

untitled3However, when traffic enters the picture, everything changes. Imagine a three-lane interstate with a car accident blocking the left two lanes of traffic. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this will slow things down due to bottlenecking. Suddenly, you have different lanes operating at different speeds, with cars in the far right hand lane moving fast initially, before having to slow down to allow traffic to merge from the left lanes.

It’s the same way with communication. When church leaders aren’t on the same page, when the vision isn’t being shared or communicated equally among its members, then functionality will become impaired…and a church’s effectiveness will slow down.

Let’s discuss some practical communicational strategies a bivocational minister (or any minister for that matter) can utilize.

* Listen & stay alert. Often times, information comes at us from multiple sources in multiple directions. And at times, it can be overwhelming trying to stay caught up to speed; however, if you want to become a better communicator, you must become a better listener. When you allow yourself to be the living embodiment of Matthew 11:15, you essentially increase your awareness.

* Establish a communicational pathway: Whether you work for an elder-run or pastor-led church, it’s essential to know not just how to communicate, but who to communicate to. By sticking to a set communicational roadmap, you enhance not only the communication itself, but also the accountability needed to see it through to fruition.

* Utilize multiple outlets. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. Learning to use websites and social media isn’t just a good idea; it’s a must. Nowadays, there are so many apps that can be tapped into for organization. As a bivocational leader, chances are you’re exposed to resources on a regular basis that your full time counterparts can benefit from. Take a look at the communication avenues you utilize for work and in your personal life – you may just find a diamond in the rough.

*Encourage, encourage, encourage. Regardless of your name or title, there’s never a bad time to encourage. Often times, encouragement is the best means of communication. I’m all about healthy project systems and living out efficient communicational strategies, but without encouragement, you risk diluting the vision.

*Stand at the door and knock. When you’re bivocational or part-time, being persistent in seeking out the information you need and making your voice heard will go a long way. By being faithful to speak up at the right times, you allow yourself to stay connected to the vision, while also inspiring others to stay engaged.

Coping With the “Part-Time Perception”: Part 3

Last time, we talked about the second way a pastor can shatter the ‘part-time’ stereotype without compromise.

Today, we’re going to discuss the next segment in our stirring series, specifically how bivocational ministers can model efficient time management skills to church members and staff, using their part-time status as an efficient template.

Let’s be honest: It’s pretty easy to compartmentalize, whether it’s with our time, beliefs, values and/or emotions.

However, I believe most people (myself included) tend to over-compartamentalize, no doubt, a byproduct of increased distraction and distress in the time we live in.

How does this relate to the bivocational minister?

Well, let’s just say I’ve been around long enough to know what a “church game-face” looks like. And by ‘church game-face’, I mean one who sets up a wall between what happens inside and outside the church.

Granted, there’s a time to be silent and keep our wrestlings between ourselves and God. But I think it’s easy to underestimate the value in being vulnerable with the real world challenges we deal with on a daily basis.

And I think for the bivocational minister, the constant switching of gears between day job and life calling can take its toll if the opportunity to model efficient time management to fellow leaders is missed.

Thus, I submit as ministers and pastors in the body of Christ, we pursue intentionality in sharing our lives outside of church. Whether it’s a one-on-one coffee date, a post-staff meeting conversation or (dare I say) making time to actually call someone up…I contend being transparent about the ups and downs of our lives can go a long way in encouraging people where they’re at.

Why, you might ask?

Because the majority of life is experienced outside the church. And if the function of the church is to equip the saints through radical engagement with Christ, why would it make sense to “silo” the evidence of it outside the church? For we’re called to be consistently faithful, persistently perseverant and patience in well-doing (Romans 2:7), not just in the easy places, but in every setting!

Thus, if you’re a pastor or minister who spends more time in-church than out, I highly encourage you to reevaluate your priorities…and perhaps your missional pillars while you’re at it. For whatever we contend with inside church walls is only to grow the body of Christ as effective disciple-makers…in spreading the hope of glory outside them.

And true me…I know it’s easy to think ‘part-time’ is worse than ‘full-time’. I know because I’ve been one for the past five years. It can be especially challenging when you work with people who treat or view you differently simply because you don’t have the same amount of time to invest onsite.

Nevertheless, if you’re a volunteer leader, it’s imperative to not only think differently, but to value what God has called us to outside the church in an evident way.

And perhaps you’re like me and feel your day job is nothing to be proud of. Or maybe you’re burdened by your occupation’s transient tendencies. My encouragement to you is simple: don’t quit. Don’t ever let discouragement hinder you from being a light amidst the daily grind. Because not only does the real world need to experience the hope of Gospel love in the marketplace, but your fellow staff members at church need to hear about it! They need to be let in on the unique narrative being authored within you.

‘Cause truth is: when we remove the veil that separates the work of God in our lives outside the church, we allow ourselves to better edify the rest of the body inside the church.

Next time, we’ll discuss communicational strategies that can help a bivocational minister stay better connected to his/her local congregation.

Cover photo from YouthMinistry360