Brit Bolerjack asked this question yesterday on Facebook:
"I'm fine discussing the merits of bivocational ministry, but I don't see other adults being told to EXPECT to need two jobs to survive....EDIT: a huge THANK YOU to everyone for this civil, thought-provoking discussion!!"
She asked for my input, so I just now posted at the end of a long and vibrant conversation with many wonderful thoughts in the comments. Here is what I wrote:
TL;dr - There's more opportunity in the challenge of bivocational ministry than there are obstacles.
"So, I saw the post yesterday, started to respond on mobile, and realized it was a laptop-sized response. Brit, I do have a few thoughts on this topic, especially as I've spent six years prepping Africa pastors, all of whom are bivocational, and eight years prepping US/Canada students for ministry for the reality of bivocational ministry, and now entering my third year of bivocational ministry as senior pastor (18 months with UMC about 16 years ago, and 18 months until now with the Naz).
"I think revision is needed at several points:
"Politically, districts need to reorient toward a bivocational mentality starting with the D.S. as "presiding elder"--serving the district but assigned to a local church as the primary preaching, teaching, or administrative pastor. An alternative would be to reduce the number of US/Canada districts to about 11 (based on what I've written on megaregion demographics and Nazarene presence in one of them), maybe 12 with 15 full-time D.S. and several of these dual-role assistant DSs.
"Financially, empty churches need to be closed and properties sold--the liquidity needs to be put toward funding for professional support for bivocational pastors (not salary replacement but funding for retreats, conferences, continuing education); campgrounds need to be self-supporting just as local ministries are expected to be self-supporting.
"Educationally, someone has to take charge at this point because I don't think anyone is willing to do what is necessary that has been involved up to this point. No one has made the mental paradigm shift from formal to informal, from "comprehensive 3 to 4 year programs of study" to "just in time teaching (JiTT)" with a well-rounded requirement for continuing education with programmed incentives for completing a bachelor's or master's; the CotN has the resources to do this educationally if someone would just take the reins. These incentives could be funded by those liquidated district and empty local church properties as well as additional assistance coming from WEF funding; also, local churches with multiple staff members, you want staff, help those without the means to pay for even one pastor, this is already happening informally, [but] let's make it happen with a broader view.
"Professionally, bi-vocational pastors cannot be always available to every congregant, and the notion of professional ministry needs to be put on the backburner indefinitely. Others have said this in previous comments but the ministry of non-clergy needs to be taken seriously (again) in the CotN and honored by our systems of certification. Alan Hirsch has helped renew this conversation (APEST) but it's anything but new to holiness folks.
"Lastly, there also needs to be a frank conversation about the fear involved with the new normal of bivocational ministry. I see this transition has the greatest opportunity for Nazarenes since Bresee got booted out of the Methodist church for spending too much time with poor folks.