A perspective on bi-vocational ministry.
If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you know that it reaches much further than the time you’re officially “on the clock” for your job. Ministry can seep into every corner of our lives – sometimes in beautiful ways, other times in unhealthy ways.
On a typical day, I may find myself —
- Serving a cold drink to someone in the blazing heat
- Helping someone unfamiliar with my area feel at home
- Providing a place to rest, refresh, and renew
- Showing the love of Jesus through smiles and actions, not just words
Am I talking about my role in a local church? Nope. But I am talking about my ministry, which actually looks a lot like a business because, well…it is.
My husband and younger son and I moved to Belize a little over three years ago now. We own and manage Placencia Beach Club in the tiny little fishing village of Placencia. It’s a business open to the public – local Belizeans, expats, and tourists alike. My days are filled with helping manage our team of 15, chatting with guests, and day-to-day operations. It may not look like a ministry in the traditional sense but have no doubts – our family is on mission here.
You see, our dream is to have a small resort where people in ministry can come to rest, refresh, and relax for little to no cost. How? By tithing back 10% of the room nights at the resort to folks in ministry. My husband and I both grew up as MK’s (missionary kids), in a setting where using “someone else’s money” to go on vacation was a strict no-no. In other words, if you needed a break, you had to fund it yourself. Pretty difficult to do on a typical pastor or missionary salary.
It’s time to retell the story. We want to remove the obstacles that prevent our ministers of the gospel from being able to experience a time of renewal. We aren’t quite to the realization of that dream yet, but God keeps bringing us closer every single day. (Feel free to email me if you’d like to keep up with our story!)
In our case, ministry has expanded past the typical boundaries in a beautiful way. Not a single person pulling into our sandy parking lot for a day at the beach and pool will automatically identify us as a ministry. I suspect, however, that after their experience here, more than one person has left feeling like there was “something different.” (Experiencing the hands and feet of Jesus in action, perhaps?)
Your ministry story may be a little different than the norm as well. Different doesn’t mean less valuable.
“Bi-vocational” is a term almost exclusively used in the context of ministry. It typically refers to a minister who serves a church part-time and works another job (or jobs) as well. Many of you reading this have other jobs or roles outside of your role in ministry. Some of you are part-time children’s directors or volunteer youth directors. Others are full-time pastors with a side job to help make ends meet.
When our ministry story doesn’t include a full-time paid position, it can be difficult to discern when to allow ministry to seep into the edges of our lives.
- Sometimes ministry seeps into our lives in a way that brightens the dark corners.
- Sometimes ministry seeps into our lives and robs us of our sense of self.
- Sometimes ministry seeps in to expand our understanding of our God.
- Sometimes ministry seeps in and distorts our understanding of God.
- Sometimes ministry seeps in and brings with it new relationships and new opportunities.
- Sometimes ministry seeps in and chips away at our relationships.
As you ponder your own ministry story, I pray that God will reveal to you how the gifts, talents, and passions that you’ve been given are part of the whole picture, not just the ministry portion. Seek discernment about where to lean in, and where to lean back.
You’re not alone. We are in this together!