Stamp CollectingHobbies.  The word itself conjures up visions of someone collecting coins or stamps.  Sitting in a quiet room, surrounded with catalogs, albums and other supplies, tweezers  and magnifying glass in hand.  And as we tend to think…wasting time.  Why would you want to do something so pointless as this when you can be out doing the Work Of The Kingdom?  You could be talking to someone about the Gospel, planning your next sermon, doing a Bible study or something that really matters!  What we fail to take into account is that without a sufficient time of rest away from all of our other concerns can actually be counterproductive.

A story related on storiesforpreaching illustrates this point nicely.  ‘A young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. “That depends,” replied the foreman. “Let’s see you fell this tree.”  The young man stepped forward, and skillfully felled a great tree. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, “You can start Monday.” Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by — and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your pay check on the way out today.” Startled, the young man replied, “I thought you paid on Friday.” “Normally we do,” said the foreman. “But we’re letting you go today because you’ve fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you’ve dropped from first place on Monday to last place today.” “But I’m a hard worker,” the young man objected. “I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!” The foreman, sensing the young man’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your axe?”  The young man replied, “No sir, I’ve been working too hard to take time for that!”Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to “sharpen the axe.” In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy than ever. Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay sharp?’

Have you forgotten how to stay sharp?  Staying sharp requires taking your mind off your primary tasks for a while, not to be lazy or inattentive to that primary task, but so  you can be refreshed.  Sometimes that very hobby you engage in will be a positive force in your ministry, as well.  A hobby…

  • It provides points of connection with people you might not otherwise meet.
  • It provides illustrations that can touch people.
  • It provides a three-dimensional aspect to your life that makes you seem more real and authentic to others.

In one case I am acquainted with, a pastor turned his enthusiasm for hiking into a blog, books and even more.  Donald Minter is a pastor at New Hope Community Church in Chandler, Arizona and also runs ‘Trek On Ministries‘, a ministry built entirely upon taking people on hikes through the Grand Canyon.  The experience of hiking as a hobby shapes much of what Don does.

The fact is, we as humans are not meant to perform one task repetitively over and over for years on end.  We are built in such a way as to need times of refreshing every now and then.  That is one of the side benefits of keeping the Sabbath…a time of refreshing in Him.   If we go without that time of rest, we will break as surely as an engine running non-stop for a long period eventually will break.

So…go get a hobby!


W(Source:")hen someone asks me what I ‘do’, most often I will reply that I am a ‘Bivocational Minister’.  I have generated quite a few questions by this simple response;  Answering this way tends to open the door to fruitful discussions with people. They want to know what a bivocational minister is.  It is not like answering that you are a plumber, and electrician or an office secretary (sorry, ‘administrative assistant’!).  Everyone pretty much knows what those people do, or at least thinks they know.   But one thing which has always intrigued me is that even ministers don’t necessarily have a good definition to fit the job title.

A number of years ago I was asked by the chairman of the District Pastoral Support Committee to help develop a statement regarding bivocational ministry.  The statement they finally settled upon was as follows, “A bi-vocational pastor supplements income by means other than church compensation. Churches should view the circumstances that cause the pastor to supplement income as a temporary situation to be resolved as soon as possible. The goal is to remove as many worldly concerns from the pastor as possible, so that the pastor may attend more intently on his or her life’s calling. Recognizing that small and young churches may have difficulty in providing adequately for their pastor and family, ensure that you use what you can provide to the best advantage of your pastor and strive towards the goal of full support.” 1

There are some pieces of the puzzle that are hidden in here, but the statement is also due for an update.  First, the income of a bivocational minister is supplemented…but this may not be by the minister having a job outside ministry.  A less-than-adequate income may be supplemented by the pastors spouse.  Second, a piece that is not well addressed here is that the pastor or spouse may hold a job outside ministry for a specific purpose other than income, such as a means of acquiring health insurance.  Third, the goal of bivocational ministry is to be able to eventually allow the church to grow enough to provide fully-funded ministry.  It needs to be recognized that although this is a worthy goal there are more and more ministers working outside of ministry as a strategic move to allow more effective outreach.

What defines a ‘fully-funded’ ministry?  A minister is truly full-funded when all of their needs are being supplied by the church.  This includes not only an adequate salary to live on, but enough to supply their  housing needs, health care, life insurance, liability insurance, vacation and sick time.  All of these must be supplied without the need for the minister or their spouse to enter the secular work force.  Needless to say, the number  of available fully-funded positions are declining, while bivocational positions are on the increase.

One final thing must be mentioned.  I was asked a month or so ago by a minister at a large church on my District if I was in full time ministry, or part time.  My reply was that I am a bivocational minister working outside the church for income, but I am a full-time minister.  Our District’s expressed opinion (and in line with my own perspective) is that there is no such thing as a ‘part-time’ bivocational minister…my secular work is also a part of my ministry.  Just ask the couple from work at whose wedding I officiated, or the many people whom I have either provided spiritual counseling for or prayed with from my office.

Scripturally, we have a great example for bivocational ministry…the most prolific writer of the New Testament, Paul.  It is from him that we get the other term for ‘bivocational minister’, ‘tent maker’.  We are in good company!

“If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”  1 Cor 9:10 NIV


1  New England District Journal, 2013, 106th Annual Assembly. p91

(Source: the many tools available for the bivocational pastor to use, the one that has the most potential for touching people and in a rapid fashion is Social Media.  “Social Media” is actually a catch-all term for various services that enable people to connect with others who have something in common.  These include Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Google Hangouts and the ultimate social media site, Facebook.  Depending on your preferences you can use something like Twitter to shoot out quick quotes, notes of encouragement to a group or news flashes.  Facebook and Hangouts offer a more diverse way to communicate.  The nicest thing about them from a bivo-pastor’s perspective is that they are usually available as apps on your smartphone, so you can send out quick posts and comments from nearly anywhere and anytime. There are some guidelines to follow, though, which you would do well to remember.


1) Most social media is open and public.  By default many of the applications allow those outside your group to view your conversations and in some cases to comment on them.  Adjusting your security settings can help control this, so learn how to adjust them as soon as you can.

2)  Keep comments and posts brief.  This helps with readability and also helps avoid trolling (people seeking your site simply to say something to start an argument).  Think like a journalist…ask “Who”, “What”, “When” and “Where” and answer these questions right up front.

3) Keep it non-confrontational. Taking a stand on social media platforms will draw like-minded people to you, but will also push away those who may not share your views.  If winning people to Christ is important to you, you want to keep those very same people coming back! This does not mean compromising your stance on important issues, but it does mean being wise in how you communicate it; social media is not the place for heart-to-heart discussion, face to face is always better.

4) Limit your posts.  People want relevant posts, but probably no more than a couple times a week.  Your mileage may vary…ask a few people in your circles how much they want.  Some platforms with let you write a post and then schedule it for release at a certain day and time.

5) Make your post content real!  Don’t simply forward internet memes. People want to see content that is meaningful to them, so be judicious.

6) Be careful of pictures.  Some people don’t want their names and pictures shared with the world.  More importantly there may be situations in your context with legal implications.  In my congregation a few years ago we had a situation where we needed to keep several children out of the spotlight due to a pending divorce and custody proceedings.

7) Recognize the best ways to use the differing social media platforms.  Twitter is not Facebook.  Google Hangouts is not Instagram.  They were each built to do specific things.

Social media can be your best friend or worst enemy.  Don’t be dazzled by the hype.  Use it in a way that glorifies God and brings people to Him.

coffee breakOne of the guiding principles of this website and ministry is that pastors, and bivocational pastors in particular, are in desperate need of contact with others in the same circumstances. Lack of contact can breed bad attitudes, feelings of isolation and abandonment and feed depression.

My District Superintendent, Rev. Ken Stanford, in his latest letter through our District newsletter said it this way: “Among the many thoughts that came to my mind, there is one that I want to briefly highlight, and that is the need and joy of connecting together. Many times we become so engaged in ministry, mission, leadership, and the numerous other activities and responsibilities of pastoral ministry that we find it easy to miss or neglect connecting with one another, if for any reason to just connect together. At the risk of “over-spiritualizing,” it is absolutely crucial for us to connect together and I believe that the enemy of our souls would love to keep us focused on the busyness of ministry while giving us the “pat on the back” of a sense of worth, at the expense of spending time with one another.”  (Link)  

Amen, Rev. Stanford, amen! Let’s not give the Enemy the chance to get a toehold. Let’s instead engage in the business of the Kingdom shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Christ!