“Part-time” is not an accurate description. He might receive a partial salary, but he is very much a full-time pastor. I have had the privilege of serving in both capacities. As with all things in life, there is always the good and the bad. In some circles there is a negative stigma that is attached to the bivocational pastor. There shouldn't be. Paul was a tentmaker. Some bivocational pastors do it intentionally. Having been in both camps, here’s my take on it.
As a bivocational pastor I have more opportunities to minister. I know. That sounds crazy. But it is true. I loved the ability to be “in the office” studying and pouring through my book and notes (I am a prolific reader and love research). But, there aren't lost people lurking around my book shelves! In the eight months since going bivocational I have started mentoring several young adults on a weekly basis and I am doing a Bible study for young adults on Tuesday evenings. Most days, as a bivocational pastor, I do more ministry than ever before.
As a bivocational pastor I miss opportunities to minister. Not really a contradiction. Let me explain. I cannot be everywhere at one time. This struggle is real regardless of what you consider yourself; vocational or bivocational. One man simply cannot do it all. He may try, and many do, but it always leads to burn out. Truthfully, the pastor that is always available will be of no use when he is available (I stole that from HB Charles). My deacons and I have communicated this time and time again. My church would rather have a healthy pastor in a heathy relationship than someone who is always on duty, tired, with a mad woman at home. So would yours. I am “off” on Saturdays. No exceptions. It is Alice’s day. We get our hair done. We have a picnic. We stay in bed. Pastor, take a day off. One day every week. You owe it to your wife, your children, your church, and to yourself.
I can’t do it all. Reality is, this is a struggle for me. When we made the decision for me to be a bivocational pastor it meant the other leaders in the church had to start leading. That means that I had to stop micromanaging. It has been bliss! BLISS! I am no longer the only one doing the ministering! Leaders are leading. People are growing and serving in new areas within the church.
The burden is real. As I said earlier, I have been in both camps. The “fully funded” pastor has a busy day with hospital visits, Bible study, sermon preparation, community outreach, counseling, and so on. Many pastors I know work 50-60 hours a week. I get it. I’ve done it. Add a 40 hour + work week to that. If you are a “fully funded” pastor reach out to a bivocational pastor near you. He might just be praying for a brother to come up alongside of him with a few extra minutes.
Save yourself some time. If you are a bivocational pastor you will agree that time is something that you do not have. Stop trying to be original every week. Create a preaching calendar. Preach through books of the Bible. Re-preach old series. (Seriously…they won’t remember!) Ask your new friend (see #4) for some of his old outlines. That’s ok, too. At one time Jerry Vines was a bivocational pastor. He got some of his outlines from a friend by the name of Adrian Rogers. It worked out good for them.
Yes, you are busy. But you are not alone. Take a break and get some rest. Remember, “God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers” (Heb 6:10).