Wednesday, May 04, 2011

More on being bi-vocational

Here's an interesting post from David Fitch about bi-vocational ministry. Although he's talking about the kind of excuses we can all use to avoid approaching ministry in this way, he also offers a helpful insight into why it might just be the best way to re-involve theologically trained and professionally equipped church leaders in God's mission. Here's a quote:

Bi-vocationalism is attractive to many seminarians. For them, the vocational full time pastor job in a church can separate you from Mission. You work and hang out with mostly Christian people all day (and night). Today, there are more and more seminary students who find the structures of the larger churches incompatible with their vision for on-the-ground mission and ministry. The culture is not a churched culture anymore and this form of church is not reaching that culture. The role of the established pastor seems to be like caretaking existing Christians. 
The key here is the overriding sense many an established church  leader feels let alone a fresh new graduate from Bible College. We are cut off from the very people we are trying to reach. Sometimes we turn this into a reason to professionalise the evangelistic process–let the members of the congregation get the missing into church and we'll do the rest for them. But this disempowers everyone. It tells the so-called ordinary Christian that all they need to do is connect their friends with the church, and it tells the professional leaders that all they need to do is preach the gospel. This is not a solution, it's an excuse!

David Fitch goes on to describe the drive for a new way of doing ministry like this:

We seek a neighborhood nearby where the need for the gospel is especially evident. We seek God and His call to move there and take up residence. We get normal jobs, live life together, get to know our neighbors, hang out in the coffee shops, the laundry-mats, the McDonalds (wink wink), the bars, the local school meetings, the civic association, the places where hurting people are. Learn to be intentional in the way you organize your life, so that nothing is a burden, just a rhythm. Gather a people into the rhythms of God (worship, fellowship, conflict discernment, serving the poor, prayer for the sick, eating meals of fellowship, etc. etc.). We learn how to come alongside the poor, vulnerable, broken, hurting. We learn how to minister, pray with, supply support to, encourage and even disciple and be discipled by the poor in the process. We lead by coming alongside other leaders who also move in and together we use all our leadership skills, and spiritual gifts as well as preaching and teaching to lead this community.
So I'm not crazy when I talk about bi-vocational as the way forward for the church. I'm not looking for an excuse to get out of one thing and into another. I'm just trying to follow God, to find my way as a partner in his mission.

Perhaps I ought to balance this by pointing out some of the positives about full-time ministry, but that's a thought for another day, and if you read this blog regularly you will know that I see many privileges in being released full-time.

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