God often calls His followers to serve Him in challenging and sacrificial ways for the sake of His name. I think about the many commissioning services I have been privileged to attend for individuals and families preparing to serve our Lord throughout this country and around the world. God called them to leave behind a familiar, comfortable lifestyle in order to share the gospel with people who have never heard.
I know that God has called many of you to make financial sacrifices so you could participate in a short-term mission trip.
When God calls us to a certain task for His Kingdom, we must be obedient. I want to express my appreciation for a group of people who, although not serving in a different state or country, make tremendous sacrifices in order to be obedient to God: North Carolina bivocational pastors.
Your Baptist State Convention includes about 1,400 churches served by a bivocational pastor. When I use the term “bivocational,” I am referring to pastors who rely on additional income from a source other than the church they pastor. Essentially, these shepherds must work at least two jobs in order to support themselves and their family.
The number of bivocational pastors and church staff is increasing, in part because of the current economic situation, rise in cost of living, and decrease in tithing and financial giving.
Bivocational pastors usually serve smaller churches or new church plants. Our state convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention, relies on support from small churches (usually defined as a church with 125 people or less in Sunday School). About 80 percent of SBC churches are small churches. I am so grateful to God for the small churches that faithfully serve God.
If not for bivocational pastors and church staff, many churches would be without adequate leadership. However, serving as a bivocational pastor is not easy. Studies indicate that these pastors work many hours each week, as they have to prepare sermons, visit in hospitals, minister to bereaved families and perform other acts of ministry related to their church, along with the required work at their additional job.
Bivocational pastors and staff may feel a sense of isolation from other pastors and they sometimes struggle to balance work and family life. These pastors sacrifice personal time in order to serve.
Lester Evans is our Convention consultant who serves in the area of associational partnerships, as well as bivocational ministry. Lester does a wonderful job working with our bivocational pastors.
Next month our bivocational ministry will host a two-day bivocational ministries conference at Caraway Conference Center.
Please pray for God to strengthen our bivocational pastors and bivocational church staff members, and also pray for their families. Ask God to empower them in a mighty way for His Kingdom and for His glory.
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Colossians 3:23