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Church Planting and Bi-Vocational Ministry

Posted by thethousandmarch on July 24, 2012 at 9:15 PM

I haven’t been able to post much – despite the fact that I’ve had many ideas to write about lately – because I’ve been working long hours at starting a business. I’m back and I thought it was about time to post a church planting update (I haven’t done one of those in a really long time).

Our little community decided to discontinue its service. Jessi and I were expecting a baby (he’s over five months old now) and I was working on starting my business. It just seemed like it was time to take a break – It seemed like the service had run its course. I don’t consider it to have been a failure, it served its purpose for those of us involved, we were faithful to what we felt called to do, and we learned a lot.

We really liked what we were doing, but Jessi and I wanted to be part of a larger community, one in which we had a little less responsibility for a while. So, we found a Lutheran Church just down the street from where we had been – in part with the idea that any worthwhile outreach work we had done in the neighborhood wouldn’t be completely lost. Now instead of working on planting a church we are looking for opportunities to help a long established “traditional” church community - which is another post.

The big change in my life is this new business. Now I’m really getting to learn how to be a “tent making” bi-vocationalpastor, with a heavy emphasis on the “tent-making” right now. So, I’m not going to have any church planting to write about; instead I plan to write about what I learn in regards to bi-vocational ministry.

In grad school I met Michael Frost. He convinced me to turn away from traditional vocational ministry and to instead enter into the exciting new world of emerging bi-vocational ministry (not that it’s actually new). My paradigm was shifted. I was fired up. I was in no way prepared for such a future. My college and seminary had trained me for traditional ministry.

For a brief moment it looked as if two wonderful opportunities had fallen in my lap. I met a guy with a similar vision as me for a coffee shop. He was going to bankroll it. I was going to manage it (and he was going train me to manage it). I also met a violin maker who was going to teach me how to make violins. The coffee shop was going to have space for artists to work, so we could do the violin making in the coffee shop. It was also going to be a great place for the church plant, Home PDX, Jessi and I had been working with to meet. All that fell through.

The only real skill I had to fall back on was carpentry. My dad is a contractor; I moved back home and we planned to work together. I’d build some capital and then be able to start up a business – I still really wanted to open a coffee shop/public house, or a second run movie theatre (or both together). Jessi and I moved back to Medford in December of ’07 just in time for the housing market, and the construction industry with it, to collapse. I was out of work for nearly two years.

Now, after a few years and some very fortunate events I have finally managed to start my own business. I have gained the technical skills I needed to do what I now do, but only some of the operational, marketing, and financial management skills. As I learn more – as I make mistakes and have success (hopefully not failure) I hope to learn what it really takes to be a bi-vocational minister. And I hope to pass what I learn on to others so that I can help others be at least a little more prepared than I was to follow a non-traditional ministry path.

Categories: Church Planting, Bi-Vocational Ministry