10 Suggestions for Bi-Vocational Pastors

One of my sessions at Exponential Conference this week was my friend Artie Davis and I encouraging bi-vocational pastors. The session, called “Flipping Burgers while Planting a Church” was to offer suggestions for those who trying to earn a living outside the church and pastor a church at the same time.

I shared 5 things to do and 5 things not to do. I would say many of these apply to all of us in ministry.

Here are my notes:


Be accountable – let People speak into your life. You’ll feel more independent if you’re not dependent on the church for income.

Be disciplined – Stay healthy in all areas of your life.

Be organized – Have someone help you if needed, but develop systems to do everything you have to do in a week.

Be intentional – It’s hard work, but you have to keep both business and church worlds running well, and still be a good family man. It will require intentionality.

Be diligent – In all areas of your life, you must do your best. It’s your witness.


Complain to church – About how hard you have to work. They should know you do, but not hear you complain about it all the time.

Lose sight of vision – The reason you are doing what you are doing is to complete the call God has on your life.

Let yourself burnout – Stay healthy physically, emotionally. Again, let people speak into your life who recognize when you are stretching yourself too far.

Allow one to outshine the other – Be good in all worlds…it will be hard, you’ll need God’s strength, but it’s your witness.

Neglect your family – That makes it even harder, but they are your first commitment.

I closed by explaining the concept in THIS POST. A key to doing more in life is that you have to get better personally.

Have you ever had to balance dual careers?  What advice would you give?

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19 thoughts on “10 Suggestions for Bi-Vocational Pastors

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  2. Thanks Ron. We don't know each other… I'm a brazilian pastor, and in a Third World Country even though might be called "emerging" country. To a be a full time pastor, many times implies in not planting churches. One advise I'd give get a not exhausting job. 3 years ago all my jobs were too exhasuting. I couldn't balance being a professional with a pastor simultaneously.

  3. Great post Ron, I think sometimes bi-vocational Pastors are lost in the mix of church planting. The hardest thing for me has been the connecting with other pastors as I'm never available when they are due to me working throughout the day. The decision for me to go bi-vocational was perfect for my situation and our church, the only thing I would say is for pastors to not become disheartened as it will take longer to grow, develop leaders and put good ministries in place, but you will learn to do it by using people not paid staff.

  4. Great points. The key for me right now as a bi-vocational seminary student, if you will, is to prioritize and set up strong boundaries. Work well when I'm at work, study well when it's time to study.

  5. I forgot to give my one piece of advice: don’t your number one aspect of your ministry and work. Your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Without it, nothing else matters.

  6. Ron – thanks again for your post. I am a bi-vocational and I some times struggle with the don’t. Thank you for your encouragement.