By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
It sounds like an All-American axiom: He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps!
This phrase indicates that a person labored long and hard to improve his or her situation in life by time-consuming toil and self-effort. Self-made men may happen in the financial world, but not in the Kingdom of God.
Some of my more Calvinistic friends write like they have a monopoly on monergism — the belief that the new birth is completely and perfectly (100%) a work of God and the sinner adds nothing, not even faith in Christ. In essence, the picture has been painted quite successfully that the majority of Southern Baptists pull themselves up by their bootstraps when it comes to salvation; a self-salvation, so to speak. Nothing could be further from the truth! We believe the Holy Spirit is the exclusive agent affecting regeneration and He needs no assistance from us (2 Cor. 5:17).
The vast majority of Southern Baptist pastors believe that salvation is all of God! Yet my more Calvinistic friends will say SBC non-Calvinists hold to a synergistic salvation with the Holy Spirit being dependent on man’s will. Our God is not a co-dependent personality feeding off the fear of our personal rejection or acceptance of Him. We just believe that God’s forgiveness must be received! We see ourselves as the beggar and God as the benevolent benefactor.
Bill Harrell has served as Pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, Georgia, for over 30 years. He also is active in the Augusta Baptist Association, Georgia Baptist Convention, and SBC, including having serving as the Vice-President of the Georgia Baptist Convention and as Chairman of the SBC Executive Committee.
In the short span of time of about five years, those of us who are observers of activities within the Southern Baptist Convention have witnessed not only changes but mega-shifts in our convention. It would take a large volume for someone to treat all the various subjects at hand but I want to address just a few that are very subtle in some ways but very overt in others.
Most of our Southern Baptist people are just tending to the business of the Kingdom in their part of the world unaware of the forces that are in play and what those forces are trying to achieve and indeed are achieving with much success.
Two things have come to our attention in recent days that bear watching. First, our agency for missions within the US, NAMB, has been using some of the Cooperative Program funds to help establish “Acts 29” churches. These churches must, by their own charter, be organized as five-point-Calvinist churches. There are those who have it as their goal to change the SBC into a Reformed convention more akin to a Presbyterian church that a Baptist church. I cannot, in these few words, get into a broad examination of what is going on, but any informed member of the SBC understands that this is happening.
The driving force behind the Acts 29 churches has been Mark Driscoll; and I do not need to elucidate how controversial he is. He has become, to the younger people, somewhat of a folk hero who they are willing to follow no matter what he says or does. Chapter 10 of his recent book, Real Marriage, is nothing but pornography. It encourages people to think that it normal to do sexually what the Bible condemns. Yet, it is Southern Baptist people who suddenly seem willing to accept the things that the people of our convention rejected outright as sinful until recently. In recent days the leadership of Acts 29 has shifted to someone else, at least in the public eye. Driscoll is the founder of this emergent church, Calvinistic organization; and many believe he will still be the “behind the scenes” leader. Being the founder, he is not going to “ride off into the sunset” too easily or too far.
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.