Four Tips for Effective Bivocational Ministry

I have the blessing of working as the youth director at my church. When I moved to Fritch over two years ago, I started teaching the youth Sunday School class, organizing activities, as well as other responsibilities outside of the youth group. It’s been a blessing to see a number of teenagers come to know Christ and grow closer in their walk with Jesus.

My wife and I have tried to make an impact in our small corner of the world, and we wouldn’t want to do anything else. However, we have had to do something else. Because the church is financially unable to support another staff member, I have to work somewhere else. My wife has had to work as well until a few months ago. While working a full time job outside the church has proven to be a difficult task, it is not impossible. Here are a few things I’ve learned since being in Fritch on how to effectively minister while holding a full time job.

  1. Use prewritten curriculum.

    For the first entire year I studied and prepared my own messages. While it was beneficial to study the Word in that fashion, it took a significant amount of time. I hadn’t thought about using prewritten curriculum until I was talking to another youth director who was also bivocational. The suggestion to use a curriculum opened my eyes to the possibility of being able to do other things instead of spending most of my free time on preparing a message. There are a number of good sources that offer curriculum at a fair price. I don’t use other people’s work all the time, but it is a good investment.

  2. Use time wisely.
    Using prewritten curriculum leads us to this related tip. Holding a full time job, fulfilling church responsibilities, spending time with my family, and up keeping my house is a lot to balance. While I haven’t mastered this balance yet, I recognize its dire importance. Sometimes I spend too much time working and not enough time with my family. Sometimes I haven’t made enough time to finish my church responsibilities. However, just like a tightrope walker is always making corrections and never 100% balanced, I always have corrections to make. If necessary, make a written schedule in an attempt to balance your time.
  3. Say no.
    I suppose that this may be true of someone who works full time at the church as well, but it is especially true of a bivocational minister. Because our time is limited, we must be careful not to add too much to our plate. Please understand that I am not saying to say no to everything. There are times when it feels like we simply cannot add another responsibility. In those times, we must step back and ask ourselves if it would be harmful to add another listing to our job description. If you feel like you are not able, politely decline, or ask if you can delegate this to someone else who would be able to fulfill the requirements.
  4. Remain dependent on Christ.
    This is, and always will be, the most important aspect of ministering. We have to recognize that using curriculum, making a schedule, or even denying some requests will never replace the power that comes from Christ. We start to fail when we do everything in our own power and in our own way. Bible reading and prayer must be essentials in our busy schedule. I’m reminded of Proverbs 21:31 “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” Solomon teaches his son that he can prepare his horses for battle. He can make sure they are physically ready. They can be fitted for battle armor. Their riders can be expert soldiers, but God gives safety. We can plan activities, write messages, organize ministries, spend time with family, and work, but power comes from Christ.

These are not all the things I have learned, but I hope they were a help. Whether you work with youth or adults or are even a bivocational pastor, rely on God for help, and be wise about your time.

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