The Career Aspirations of a Bivocational Church Planter

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Yes, bivocational church planting seems to be all the rage. For many it’s a new badge of honor to say you’re “bivo.” It’s probably a good course correction and needed. But like any shift it can be taken too far. Not that we don’t want to see more bivocational church planters, but within every trend, fad, or genuine movement or shift there is usually the angsty crowd. I often wonder where this conversation is going and then the implications of a shift in this direction.

Within this conversation of bivocational church planting there are inevitably numerous streams within. There are those already firmly rooted in their careers … pharmaceuticals, marketing, tech, running an auto body shop, education, human services, and the like … and then they step out to plant a church. They may never foresee themselves stepping away from their “day jobs,” but some do if the church grows and they need to dedicate more time to it. There are others who step out to plant as a full-time career move only to realize they didn’t raise enough funds, funding is running out, and so they scramble to find work to keep the whole dream alive. They’re hoping and praying fervently that their church grows so they can get back to it full time.

Regardless of how one enters the conversation one of the questions I have is … “what is your goal?” Or, “what are your career aspirations?” The answer to those reveals (or will reveal) the stick-to-it-ness of the church planter. Church planting often resembles the famous Mike Tyson quote, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” We go in with the best of intentions but when the messiness of life and ministry hits the fan is when we get to the core of our calling. That will reveal then whether it was a passing fad, good idea, or whether it was born out of a deep sense of calling. That’s what I mean by the title of this article as this is about the career aspirations of a bivocational church planter.

Why did you plant? Ok, be honest. See, if your answer is wrapped up in a deep sense of calling or compulsion (I must do this) then you rarely have to worry about timelines or anything like that. Why? Because you’re in it for the long term. That means whether you need to be bivocational or not is not the most important question. The question of “how do I live out this calling” then is your impetus for bivocational work. And it might mean you’ll forever be bivocational, but I’m guessing that if you’ve come to that conclusion it is because of that deep sense of place and calling that has rooted you there. This is where geography and demography merge as you care so deeply and this place and people you’ll do anything to stay … including be bivocational.

Church PlantingSean Benesh