Beau Underwood relates his experience of bi-vocational ministry on Sojourners’ God’s Politics Blog:
The number of bi-vocational ministers is increasing rapidly. Many pastors who work full-time jobs and serve in congregations part-time receive little or no pay for their church service. This trend has been described as “the future of the church” and extolled because the model is a return to “the original church” that will “enliven congregations.”
Such thinking appears to be nothing more than trying to put an extremely positive theological spin on a very dire ecclesiastical reality. There are two very significant reasons I’m skeptical of such rosy claims about bi-vocational ministry.
First, ministry is growing more complex. Our society is becoming both more religiously pluralistic and secular (in the sense that religious is often relegated to issues of private belief). The financial and demographic pressures facing congregations are greater than ever. Technological and medical advances have made the moral questions that individuals and families must answer around end-of-life issues even more complicated. The effects of globalization and public policy choices have increased income inequality and economic insecurity for millions of Americans, which contributes to personal and family crises. Educational levels are rising, which both encourages religious literacy but also fosters a culture of critical questioning of established orthodoxy that requires well-developed, thoughtful responses and guidance from faith leaders. All of these factors and so many others result in a spiritually anxious age where people are hungry for meaning but not finding through traditional religious channels.
Read the whole story here.