Bivocational Ministry, Part 5:
Bivocational Ministry Is More Common
Than Most People Realize
Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.
This series looks at the importance of bivocational ministry and bivocational ministers in today’s church. The previous articles in this series are:
Part 1: Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry.
Part 2: Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors – But Only If They Are Trained.
Part 3: Rethinking Our Perception of Bivocational Ministry.
Part 4: Bivocational Ministry is Normal.
In part 3, I wrote about the need to rethink our perceptions of bivocational ministry; and in part 4, I followed that up with a post on why bivocationalism is actually the normal, though not the only, way to do ministry. Today, I want to expand that discussion just a bit more and discuss the reality that bivocational ministry is becoming more common in our culture, whether we like it or not.
Though some ministers serving larger churches do quite well financially, a growing number of pastors have to work a second job in order to provide for their families. Though this is becoming more common every year, very few people entering the ministry want to be bivocational. Let’s be honest, it is hard to work two jobs. Add to that the reality that many bivocational pastors are looked down upon by ministers who serve more affluent congregations. Add to that the reality that many denominational meetings are held at times that make it difficult for bivocational pastors to attend. All of that adds up to making bivocational ministry far more challenging that fully funded ministry. But this is the reality that many people entering the ministry will face, so we might as well start talking about it.
Regardless of how pastors and/or church attendees may feel about bivocational ministry, it is a growing practice in North American church life. Patricia Chang is a research professor at Boston College and has studied many denominations and written extensively about clergy issues. Chang has done extensive research on how bivocational ministry is impacting American denominations of all sizes and theological persuasions. In a major study published in the Pulpit and Pew journal of Duke University, Chang concludes that “the majority of congregations in the United States are small, with fewer than 100 regular members and cannot typically afford their own pastor.” This results in a growing need for more bivocational pastors every year.
Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology
Part 2: Philosophical Presuppositions
about Freedom and Determinism
Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the second of a four-part series by Eric Hankins attempting to frame Baptist soteriology in a different structure than comparing it to Calvinism and Arminianism. In the first article, Hankins contrasted individual election as a key Biblical Presupposition in Calvinism and Arminianism with corporate election in a Baptist soteriology. In this article he contrasts the Philosophical Presuppositions of Calvinism (The “Problem” of Determinism and Free-Will) and that of a Baptist soteriology (“The Freedom of God and the Free-Will of People”).
The Philosophical Presupposition of Calvinism:
The “Problem” of Determinism and Free-Will
Like Calvinism and Arminianism, the 2,500-year-old debate concerning the “problem” of determinism and free-will has also reached an impasse. This is because absolute causal determinism is untenable. Put simply, the “problem” is not a problem because the paradigm for causation in the Western philosophical tradition is wrong. The whole of reality cannot be explained in terms of uni-directional causation from a single first-principle. The universe does not work that way. Causation is complex, hierarchical, and interdependent. God sits sovereignly and non-contingently atop a hierarchy that owes its existence to the functioning of the levels below it, levels that include the fully operational free-will of humans. Opposing God’s sovereign guidance of the universe and the operation of free-will within that universe is a false dichotomy based on reductionistic metaphysical assumptions. God has made a free and sovereign decision to have a universe in which human free-will plays a decisive role. Human agency is one force among many that God has created to accomplish His cosmic purposes.
Free-will plays a unique role within God’s purposes for the universe because it is the unique power of human beings freely to enter into covenant relationships, especially a covenant relationship with God. This makes human willing fundamentally moral. Under certain circumstances, God, in His freedom, contravenes free-will, just as He is free to contravene any other force in nature, but this is not His normal modus operandi. Because God is God, He knows all of the free acts of humans from eternity, but this knowledge does not cause these acts nor does it make Him responsible for them. Moreover, the existence of these acts in no way impinges upon either His freedom or His ability to bring about His ultimate purposes. The ability of humans “to do otherwise” does not call God’s sovereignty into question; it actually establishes and ratifies His sovereignty over the particular universe that was His good pleasure to create. Opposing free-will and sovereignty is, from a philosophical perspective, nonsensical.
Christians in our churches are under attack. Now, more than ever, we are called upon to defend our faith. Apologetics is needed in our local churches. With this in mind, on Friday, April 13, 2012, The Apologetics in the Local Church Conference, hosted by the Institute for Christian Apologetics and the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, will be held on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Apologetics Conference is being held in conjunction with the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum that starts in the evening following these events.
9 a.m. – Panel Discussion with Bryant Wright, J. P. Moreland, Gary Habermas, and David Hankins (in Leavell Chapel)
11 a.m. – Special Chapel led by SBC President Bryant Wright, who will model Apologetic preaching (in Leavell Chapel)
Noon – Lunch with Bryant Wright for Pastors and other Ministers, with time for questions and answers. This event has limited seating, so get your tickets now (in the River City Café).
The scheduled speakers for the Apologetics Conference are the President of the SBC, and two distinguished professors.
Bryant Wright has been the Senior Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga. for more than 30 years. Once a small mission church, under Wrights leadership the congregation has grown to over 7,000 members. A respected Bible teacher, pastor, husband, father and community leader, Wright is a straightforward communicator who uniquely connects God’s unchanging truth with a diverse culture through compelling and creative teaching. His messages are centered on Scripture and he seeks to explain how the Bible applies to everyday life. Wright is currently in his second term as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. One of the best-known Christian apologists in America, William Lane Craig, teaches a popular Bible study class at JFBC.
David Hankins is the executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He also has 25 years of experience as a local church pastor in Texas, and Louisiana, and has served for more than 15 years in denominational leadership, such as Vice President for Convention Policy of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, Vice President for Cooperative Program, and Executive Director of the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He has also authored two books:
The events coincide with the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum that Friday evening, which features a debate between agnostic Michael Shermer and Gary Habermas of Liberty Seminary on the subject, “Is There Life after Death?” The discussion will also feature Peter Kreeft, J. P. Moreland, Keith Parsons, and Victor Stengel.
Apologetics in the Local Church is $20 for Pastors, Church Leaders and the General Public (includes lunch and admission to the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum April 13-14). The event is free for NOBTS students, faculty and staff. The cost of the lunch for NOBTS students, faculty and staff is $10.
Click Here to register for the event.
Monday Exposition Idea:
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
Professing God is of the utmost importance. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to profess is “to declare or admit openly or freely: affirm: to declare in words or appearances only: pretend, claim or to confess one’s faith in or allegiance to”.
As any God-called preacher, I have a deep concern that you make or have made a genuine profession of God. As Paul the apostle exhorts in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”
Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert (1928-1995) comments on Titus 1:5,
This verse gives us the historical setting for the Epistle. Titus is working on the island of Crete when Paul writes to him. Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, situated almost equidistant from Europe, Asia, and Africa. A high state of civilization once flourished there, but by New Testament times the moral level of its inhabitants was deplorable. Their ferocity and fraud were widely attested; their falsehood was proverbial; the wine in Crete was famous, and drunkenness prevailed.
This is the Day (Psalm 118)
This is a song written by Glen Shulfer of Mukwonago, WI, featuring Helen Sigur, which is an application of Psalm 118 to the contemporary believer.