At our recent Combined Campus Celebration we ordained 11 men to be Family Church Pastors. All of these men have completed a rigorous, 2-year program of examination and training, and all of them have been working another job while doing so. I have to admit I was a little surprised when 9 of the 11 told our ordination council that they want to remain bivocational. We need these 11 men and many more if we’re going to achieve our vision of 100 neighborhood churches. We have a public school teacher, football coach, paramedic, police officer, financial planner and others. They all love their jobs and are as passionate about them as they are about their positions at Family Church.
They see their ministry value in both places – they can lead, shepherd and influence believers and non-believers alike in their workplaces and in our churches. The teacher loves teaching and influencing the next generation. The coach loves coaching football and training young men on the field and off. The police officer loves going to work each day to stand guard over our streets and over the hearts of fellow believing police officers who are faced with innumerable pressures and challenges. He can help them make the right decisions about the moral, ethical dilemmas facing police officers today. The paramedic gets to save lives physically and spiritually. These men recognize that their “secular” vocation is actually a “sacred” opportunity to serve.
As a part of our SendSFL residency program, these men gain both educational and practical experience. They study, write papers and take tests on the gospel, group life, hermeneutics, homiletics, marriage and family, spiritual leadership, ecclesiology and church planting. We partner with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Seminary and Palm Beach Atlantic University to give them master’s level credit. We also personally coach and evaluate them to address individual growth opportunities.
Some might think that these men are naïve to believe that they can sustain their bivocational lifestyles, but they and their families have already been doing it for 2 years. While in the residency program they are expected to actively invest in one of our campuses and attend important spiritual events: baptisms, business meetings, hospital visitations, staff meetings, weddings, funerals, etc.
The residency program has proven that bivocational ministry is not only sustainable, but also practical and powerful. The call to ministry doesn’t need to pull you away from your vocational passion. You can be passionately bivocational!
Part II Coming Soon: BIVO Pastor, Redefining the Role