The four-year-old who says, “I can do it by myself” has a lot in common with the typical pastor.
Pastors are notorious for their lone ranger approach to ministry. It’s what I call the number one failure of 90 percent of pastors. They prefer to go it alone.
Even Jesus needed a buddy. “He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with me for one hour?'” (Matthew 26:40)
Sometimes it helps to have someone nearby, praying, loving, caring, even hurting with you.
The word paracletos from John 16:7 is translated “Comforter” and “Helper” in most Bible versions. The literal meaning is “one called alongside,” the usual idea being that the Holy Spirit is our Comforting Companion, a true Friend in need. And each time that word is found in the New Testament–John 14:16,20; 15:26; 16:7; and I John 2:1–it always refers to the Lord.
However, here’s something important.
While paracletos does always refer to the Lord in those scriptures, the word parakleesis (also a noun), for comfort or consolation, may refer both to the work of the Lord in our lives as well as the effect we have upon each other.
Don’t miss that.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers…. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people (Acts 2:42-47).
When a church of 120 members set out to assimilate 3,000 new additions into the life of the congregation, they ranked “fellowship” toward the top of the list as a critical step in accomplishing the task.
Koinonia is the Greek word. Literally, it refers to a sharing of life, or a partnership, which doesn’t tell us a lot about what it meant in the follow-up program in the early church. So, in the absence of anything definitive from Scripture on the precise meaning of the term, I submit for your consideration my own definition: Hanging out.
The “fellowship” quotient of a church–whether the members love the Lord and one another–is one of the most telling features of a congregation, one of the most dependable indicators of the health of the church, and one of the best predictors of its future usefulness in the Kingdom.
Here are 10 aspects of the fellowship of your church worth carving in stone, or better, engraving on the hearts of your leadership and membership.
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.
Part 5: Bivocational Ministry Is More Common Than Most People Realize.
Part 6: Bivocational Pastors Must Learn to Delegate.
Part 7: Bivocational Pastors Sharing Leadership Results in Healthier Churches.
Pastors who work a job in addition to their church are often referred to as bivocational pastors because they have two vocations: the church and something else. Though few pastors would choose to be bivocational in a perfect world, the majority of pastors will spend at least a portion of their career in bivocational situations. Therefore, all pastors should learn how to handle the challenges of this type of ministry so they will be prepared for it.
Since writing the book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, I have had ample opportunity to discuss both the advantages and the challenges of bivocational ministry with pastors, denominational leaders, and ministerial students. Based on those discussions, as well as my own experiences as a bivocational pastor, I have developed this list of challenges that bivocational ministers face and some ways in which those ministers dealt with those challenges.
Challenges bivocational pastors deal with regularly: