I have been told I am intentionally bivocational.
Over a number of years, the Lord worked through a series of events and much sanctification to lead me to this kind of ministry. I assume I am labeled as intentional because this is something I have chosen to do; for, I am not only a pastor but also a construction project manager.
Five years ago, I would have never seen bivocational pastoral ministry as an option. I had made the decision to get out of the so-called “secular world” so that I could get into full-time vocational ministry. I truly thought pastoral ministry was an either-or scenario. What I did not realize at the time was that I had been doing bivocational ministry for several years. I just did not have a right understanding of what it was or the proper labels to make it compute in my mind.
The Lord has allowed two specific things to happen in my life that I would credit to me being a bivocational pastor. First, through the influence of people much wiser than me, I have been able to develop a healthy theology of work—something I was lacking before.
Second, I have had the privilege, both here and abroad, to meet and be around a number of people who serve as bivocational pastors.
I certainly believe bivocational ministry is a viable, important, and needed option in the Church. However, it is not the only option. It would be difficult to serve in this ministry if it were not for those who are able to give themselves full-time to local church ministry. For example, I benefit from those who are able to invest the hours developing great resources that assist me with my biblical studies and preaching. I humbly stand on the shoulders of those who are given entirely to work of that nature.
There are benefits and challenges to being a bivocational pastor, just as there are benefits and challenges to being in full-time vocational ministry. The Lord has led me to a point where I find both the benefits and the challenges of bivocational ministry to be the most rewarding.
I am praying that the Lord would lead more men to that conclusion, while at the same time leading others away from it.
In the end, may He be glorified through the varying manifestations of His grace in the lives of His people.
Cory Varden is a former member of The Church at Brook Hills. He works for Rives Construction Company and is the pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
On Sunday, January 24, 3:00-4:00 PM there will be a meeting in Room 130 for Brook Hills men considering pastoral ministry training. If the Lord is calling you to pastor a church, either in a bivocational or full-time capacity, we want to invite you to this meeting. We will be discussing Brook Hills’ approach to assessing and equipping pastors to be sent to lead other churches in Birmingham and the U.S. For more information, please contact pastor J. D. Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org.