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Financial Health in a Post-Church Era!

Reading time: two minutes. There’s a growing financial trend among American clergy that is only going to escalate in the days ahead: bi-vocational ministry.  Most of us know someone who has a supplemental income so that they can stay in ministry.  It’s becoming more common, and is the fastest growing trend in seminary education.  I speak to pastors all across the country who tell me they know that they will someday need to find outside employment. And I expect that many more will be taken unawares by the financial reality as more and more of our churches explore this option with their pastors. Grace Place Wellness will soon partner with Rural and Small Town Ministry host a wellness retreat for Bi-Vo pastors and spouses (both rural and urban), but there’s more we can all do.  Today I’ll suggest four ways we can all offer encouragement and support to bi-vocational pastors. First, as we enter this new phase of church life, we’ll all need to check our attitudes toward pastors who are also employed beyond the pulpit.  Just as you are not “more” or “less” a pastor because you are paid above or below the district scale, the call and ordination are not contingent on a full or part-time salary. I’m working through a newly published book, “Bivocational: Returning to the Roots of Ministry.”  That’s an interesting thought.  The rise of a full-time, professional clergy in the church has often been cited as a source of various difficulties in church life.  This is an opportunity for us to re-learn some things about ministry.  Hmmm. And that’s my second thought: Listen.  Bi-vocational pastors are going to have things to teach us that we who spend so much time insulated in church life don’t know about.  I’m always enlightened through my conversations with these front-line ministers of the gospel. Third, be intentional about including Bi-Vo pastors in pastoral fellowship.  It’s a pet peeve of mine that pastors don’t make every effort to be at the monthly Winkel.  We control our schedules to a far greater degree than most professionals.  It’s not so for those holding down two or more jobs.  I’m guilty of not always considering the schedule of the Bi-Vo pastor in our circuit when scheduling our meetings.  He’s one of our best attenders and a great asset to our fellowship when we make allowance for his calendar. Finally, look for ways your church can partner with a bi-vocational pastor.  Are you attending a seminar or conference?  Invite him along and pick up his fees.  When ordering materials, ask if you can order a few extras to share with a struggling congregation.  Explore other creative ways to come alongside.  I know it will be appreciated. Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry?  Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry.  Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.