Nuances of Calling

What does it mean to be called? Interestingly, that conversation is highly nuanced and answers to that question differ based upon theological traditions and denominational affiliations. Some contend only pastors and missionaries are called. Others assert that calling only applies to full-time religious workers.

But even more than that the conversation is also shaped by race. In a majority of minority churches it is simply assumed that the pastor is "bi-vocational" whether the church is African American, Hispanic, Vietnamese, and so on. However, in many Anglo churches it is assumed in many instances that pastors are to receive their livelihood from the church.

So what does this all mean? What does this even mean related to Intrepid?


That's why I advocate that we need to drop the term "bi-vocational." You see, we all share one calling (or vocation) ... to Christ and His purposes. Now within that there are other callings where God taps us onto the shoulder for a specific purpose ... go there, do that. But it all flows from that primary calling.

A "bi-vocational" pastor really is a "mono-vocational" pastor but is "bi-occupational." One calling, but differing occupations. Many of us already live in that world anyways. We have our primary source of income, right? Then on top of that we end up doing a lot of other things for extra income. But we have one primary calling. Within that we then have differing occupations to help fulfill that calling. Not everyone has the ability or even need to have their calling to be a fully funded position in a ministry context. I know many business owners or people well-established in their careers that would never dream stepping away from it in order to do "vocational" ministry work. But are they any less important?

Again, maybe the source of confusion really comes down to labels. Bi-vocational is a confusing term that even elicits guilt. For most it means that while they want to be paid to do ministry that they can't ... or maybe don't want to. They are viewed somehow as lesser.

But what if a bi-occupational approach to ministry was actually more freeing and fulfilling?

What if you're equally passionate about foster care, income equality, healthy urban form, launching business start-ups, environmental sustainability, and the like as much as you are being a pastor or church planter or missionary? What if those were actually complimentary rather in competition with one another? This is what we envision happening in each of our Strategic Communities. Besides, we don't want to simply see new churches catalyzed, but new common good businesses and non-profits that benefit and bless the community we're in.

Sean Benesh