Bivocational Ministry Preparation

Recently, I opened up my browser one morning to my blog feed and saw a blog post aptly titled, “How I Prepare Sermons as a Bivocational Church Planter,” and I was immediately hooked. While I had just finished my morning devotions, I did not have the time to read, nevermind skim over, the blog post, so I left the page open on my blog feed so I could read it that night, which was just a few hours ago, when I would get home from work.

When I arrived home from work, we had some time as a family, went to church and taught the youth and children, and had a blessed time in doing so. Then, after that was all said and done, I took the time to read that blog post, looking forward to a theologically rich, biblically sound post with advice and encouragement on bivocational ministry. And, upon clicking the link to the blog, the post about bivocational ministry truthfully ended upon the last word of the title.

Up to this point, I have purposefully not linked to the blog post, as I wanted you, the few people who read this blog, to have an idea for the buildup of expectation I head for the post. You can click HERE (I have disabled the link, see bottom of post) to read the post which drew my ire, along with the ire of many others.

While I agree with much criticism, there are some that are simply not true, as in truth, this blog post was an ad, and not a misrepresentation of the Gospel in any way, because the Gospel is honestly not in the blog post in any way. Needless to say, I was very upset by the blog post. It was neither encouraging nor edifying. Now, for the purposes of being a review for a product, it was a great article, but, the title of the article should have been something like “How I integrate the Logos NICOT/NICNT series into Bivocational Ministry” or something like that.

Now that I am over my short criticism of the blog post, I do want to offer a few things of encouragement that I draw upon from God’s Word when it comes to Bivocational Ministry Preparation in my own life. I am first and foremost a minister of the Word of God. First to myself, to my family, to my church, and to those whom are around me. I am on staff at my church, not as the pastor, but as the Director of Family Ministry (basically an associate pastor without the title), and it is a position that I love dearly. Secondly, I have a full time job which eats up anywhere from 40 to 50 hours every week of my time (I am bound to not post directly on any form of social media what I do, however, my job is a secular fulfillment of James 1:27 in terms of orphans). So, when I go to do ministry preparation, it is a task and I am already weary and tired, but not giving up.

My first piece of encouragement comes from Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica. He wrote, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, ESV). All the time, in all things, no matter the circumstances, God calls us to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks. The word “Rejoice” here literally means to be in a state of happiness and well-being. “Without ceasing” means exactly that, without stopping. And “All Circumstances” means every, all. So, we need to always be happy, never stop praying, and give thanks to God about everything…the good, the bad, and the ugly. And Paul reminds us that these things are God’s will for our lives (1 Thess. 5:18).

So, I spend a lot of time rejoicing, praying, and giving God thanks for everything. It is much easier said than done, though. Much, much easer said. There are times when I don’t want to, but I know I must. There are times when I don’t, and I have later repented of because I didn’t. It always helps.

My second piece of encouragement that encourages me from the Bible is Paul himself, the best example of a bivocational minister every. What’s that? you might ask yourself. Paul? Bivocational? Yes, he worked.

   “After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.” (Acts 18:1–3, ESV)

He worked and he made money and he was able to support himself. Even in Rome as a prisoner, Luke recorded, “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,” (Acts 28:30, ESV). Now, did all this money come from his tent making? I don’t know. I can imagine that some came from the church in Rome and other Christians in the city and possibly people who traveled through. But, I can only imagine that some came from the fact that Paul was a bivocational minister of the word of God.

Now, when it comes to sermon preparation, writing lessons for the youth and children, or even preparing a Sunday School lesson out of LifeWay quarterly, I must admit, I do use Logos and the wonderful resources it has. In Logos, one has access to so many resources and so much time-saving information is at our fingertips. It is amazing. And, as someone who works bivocationally in vocational ministry, it is an invaluable tool (nevermind how much it helps me in my seminary course load, as well).

Now, one may think that I copped out and made my post into an ad. No, I did not. I’m not gaining anything from this, and, just because of the blog post I didn’t like doesn’t mean I am going to stop using or liking Logos Bible Software. It is great software that helps many people around the world be able to so much work for giving Biblically, doctrinally, and theologically sound sermons and lessons. Logos is a great product and Faithlife is a wonderful company and ministry partner to some extent. But, they need to realize that not every blog post of there’s needs to have a selling point. If the author of the original post in question wrote a detailed post with encouragement and tips on how they were to write their sermons, including how they integrated Logos into that (without making Logos the centerpiece of the article), than I think it would have been a much more impactful, fulfilling blog post, and not an ire-inspiring mockery of a post-turned-shamelss-plug for an expensive Logos product.

So, to those of you out there who, like me, do bivocational ministry and sacrifice so much of their free time and sleep, pouring over the Gospel, preparing lessons, and rejoicing, praying and giving thanks, I say bravo to you! You truly exemplify what is needed more throughout our cities and towns, capitals and states, our country and our world, when it comes to the ministers of the Gospel. And remember, it’s okay to be bivocational, the man who wrote a lot of the New Testament was too! And look how God used him and his life.

I could write much more on what I do for ministry preparation, however, it is approaching 1:00am where I am at, and sleep is beckoning me come!

Soli Deo Gloria my friends.

EDIT: 8/19/15 – I was looking through the Logos Blog feed, and could not find this post as I was wanting to check on the comments. I then clicked on the link in my blog and it appears that Logos took the post down. I want to reiterate that it was not a bad post, per se, it was misleading. People were expecting a wonderful exposition on bivocational sermon preparation, but instead got an ad pitch for an expensive commentary on Logos.