newspaperreadStaying current on world and local events is a mandatory activity for pastors.  In the life of the bivopastor it comes a little more easily, since you are ‘out in the world’ more than someone who is tied to an office.  On the other hand a fully-funded pastor can be more intentional about the process.  Either way, it has to be done.  How can a bivopastor make sure they are up to date?

  1. Set a time daily for a quick update on news and events.  It can be listening to the radio on the way to work or reading a trusted website on your phone at lunch.
  2. Talk with the people around you to get an idea of what they consider important.
  3. Subscribe to a newspaper, either a major daily like the “New York Times” or a local paper like the “St. Albans Messenger” in my locality.
  4. Aim for a broad view.  Don’t just focus in one area, get an overview that covers many types and kinds of events.
  5. Don’t read the comments on websites.  Most are useless and reactionary and will only serve to raise your blood pressure.
  6. Mix in a foreign news source every so often to get a different perspective.  My favorites are “BBC America” and “CBC” (Canadian) news programs.

In addition to keeping you current and knowing what people are concerned with, the news can provide you with many cutting edge sermon illustrations.  Look for them and if needed take notes.  You won’t regret it.


I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.  Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  Luke 13:3-5 (NIV)

visitationIn today’s technological environment, and perhaps especially as tech-savvy bivocationals ministering to an internet connected world, there is a big temptation to use social media tools as a replacement for face-to-face visitation.  Is this a satisfactory way to minister?  Should we use texting and messaging as our main way to contact people?

In my own church I maintain a website, a Google calendar and a Facebook page.  In addition we use texting and messaging.  But, as my in-laws keep stressing to me (80 years of ministry between the two of them!), you need to get out and meet people.  There are some very practical reasons for this:

  • People find you easier to ignore when you are not standing in front of them.
  • Sadly, people also find it easier to tell you an ‘un-truth’ when you are not looking in their face.
  • People are more likely to have an in-depth conversation when face-to-face.
  • You can ‘read’ a person’s body language and expressions in a way no emoji will ever communicate.  Some one can tell you they are “doing alright” and the look in their eyes can tell you that they are in all actuality hurting.  You’d never get that from a text.
  • People appreciate the effort of you visiting with them more than a text, tweet or Facebook message.  It makes more of a positive impression on them.
  • There are many people who do not know how, or who don’t otherwise have the ability to receive social media messages.  This is especially true with our senior citizens.

Social media and other technological communications methods are important, don’t get me wrong.  They can be fast, easy and very accessible. But they simply cannot substitute for talking with people face-to-face.  Technology is best for imparting information rather than having a “heart to heart” conversation.  You can take this as a good thing or a bad thing…bivocational ministers generally operate on tight schedules, so sending a text is easier…but we also have an ability to be flexible and intentional, especially with workplace ministry.

The take away lesson from this is, use social media ministry as a ‘rifle’, not a ‘shotgun’, to target specific purposes and audiences.  But don’t neglect the more traditional ministry of visitation.

“…as they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.”  Luke 24:15 (NIV)

(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.