Why the Bivo Conversation Needs to Shift


It’s happening everywhere it seems … lots of talk about bivocational ministry. There’s even been a new term introduced … covocational. I was recently talking to a friend who’s a church planter. Not only that, but he’s well-funded. Meaning, he doesn’t (at least yet) need (or want) to be bivocational (at least yet). He mentioned he felt like there’s been a shift in church planting and that if you’re not on the bivo-covo bandwagon you’re missing out.

In some ways I agree with him about the premise of the growing momentum for all-things bivo. I told him that my fear would be this turns into the latest fad or rage. For those who’ve been around long enough we’ve weathered the storm of a dictionary of new (to us) terms like: emerging, emergent, missional, Gospel-centered everything, and so on. It appears that bivo-covo is becoming the newest thing. He mentioned in his church planting circle it’s almost looked down upon to be fully funded.

But I think we need to pivot or shift the conversation.

We talk a lot about bivo in the sense of church planters and pastors getting jobs and thinking missiologically about them. Often times these jobs are at places and in industries where the church leader has little to no background, experience, education, or training. Instead, I believe the pivot needs to focus on being proactive in pursuing bivocational ministry by creating something of meaning (to you and the community) that not only benefits you financially, but gives you a platform to engage relationally with people in your city, neighborhood, or town.

In other words, the shift is to focus more on training to help church planters and pastors to start a business or non-profit.

In an article in the Journal of American Planning Association called “The Maker Movement and Urban Economic Development,” the researchers point out:

The maker movement is the result of changes in both technology and consumption. The accessibility of open-source design software and rapid-prototyping technologies such as three-dimensional printers, personalized computer-numerically controlled machine tools, and printed circuit boards dramatically reduces the resources necessary to engage in product design and fabrication.

Never before has there been a better time in human history to not only start a business, but to compete locally, regionally, and globally. We have the tools and technology at our finger tips. You can build and grow your startup. And of course, when I say “startup” I most often refer to this maker economy as mentioned above in the article.

So rather than talking about the need for bivo what if we trained and apprenticed pastors, church planters, and missionaries to start a business that is both meaningful and sustainable?