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I’m “Bi” and proud

April 25, 2008

Great blog conversation happening on money/vocation/kingdom/sustainability and I wanted to put some thoughts in the mix…

You can catch up with the conversation by visiting the links on Alan’s recent post.

Here’s some bullets points as I ponder this mostly related to my ongoing experience being Bi-occupational…

A community of allies is key to sustainability: I remember talking to Chris Marshall about all this many, many years ago as we were both transitioning into new, non-paid-ministry positions. He ended up in education and I ended up in business. Most importantly we’ve remained allies and champions for one another since those early conversations.

This topic is complex and answers sometimes come s l o w l y : I’ve been wrestling with this question for 18 years. I started a non-profit while in college that was self sustaining and eventually started several other businesses that employed the urban and college students all the while building relationships and communities. We had a dance club/juice bar for a wide assortment of alternative kids from ravers to Goths to punks to skin heads. We also started a window washing business that morphed into a house painting business. We figured if we’re going to be risking our lives on 40 foot ladders we might as well get paid well for it and painting/restoration of historic homes was the ticket to fund our urban ministry habit. Then there was a similar project years later with a communal living/common purse component that started as home repair and spun off a cleaning service business. Now I’m in the auto collision industry owning/operating a shop a few blocks from house and starting to get into real estate via buying apartment buildings. That last one launches in 2 weeks with our first purchase of a 5 unit building with 2 commercial spaces attached to it. All that to say after doing several start ups and not drawing a full time salary for ministry for the vast majority of my adult life I am just now getting to the point where I think I might have a small handle on this and something worthwhile to share…

There are strategic reasons why I don’t work full time in paid ministry: Namely I am around “normal” (aka non-christians) all day every day. I have a reason to be involved in many peoples lives and am available to them and I know them not as a professional minister but as a friend and co-worker. This also gives me multiple entry points into the life of my city. I am known by several on city council and by the mayor as well as the fire department (they do my permits for the shop) and the police department (I fix many of their cars).

Others are empowered to serve and don’t overly depend on me. Because I have a full time job in the “real world” (I know that is faulty but it is where most people are and we’re trying to contextualize right?) people naturally understand that I am not available to do every wedding, counseling session, or ministry idea that they want me to do for them… it creates a high ownership environment where everyone has jobs and everyone contributes as they can to the mission in the neighborhood.

It ain’t perfect, neat and clean… I remember a conversation I had with Todd Hunter, Mark Palmer, and Jason Evans where Todd said to us that we would likely have to “cobble something together from a job, support raising, part time staff etc… This is a transitional time and transitions aren’t tidy.” When it comes to day to day realities we all know that there is not a perfect answer or one size fits all. We have to just put the pieces together as they come to us and move toward ideals over time.

There are prophetic reasons to not get paid by a church namely you can fully speak your mind/heart/word of the Lord and not have in the back of your mind “what will happen if I offend a big giver?” or “I can’t afford to lose my benefits and retirement so I better watch my step in this situation.”

Bi-vocational is a misnomer. As Chad Canipe reminded us we may be bi-occupational but we only have one vocation: Seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6.33) We can do that in paid ministry or painting houses or fighting fires or being a tattoo artist.

Some older musings on the topic >>>

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2008 11:52 pm

    I really like what you have to say until the very end. There is no way in hell you can seek the kingdom of God as a tattoo artist.
    ; )

    love ya bro

  2. April 28, 2008 5:22 pm

    loving the title…

  3. April 28, 2008 10:45 pm

    Dude! your Bi?!!!! I always wondered why you look at me that way! Wow, that explains a lot…. I might even wear my short shorts the next time I am around, heh.

  4. May 1, 2008 5:20 pm

    I always have liked hemingway.

  5. May 7, 2008 1:47 am

    Been thinking about this stuff a lot recently as well. I’d actually love to chat more about it sometime.

    “When it comes to day to day realities we all know that there is not a perfect answer or one size fits all. We have to just put the pieces together as they come to us and move toward ideals over time.”

    I think for the past 8 months or so I’ve been wondering how to get on with living “vocationally.” I’ve been imaging my life looking like someone else’s life: a life of someone who owns his own business and makes a lot money and has a lot of freedom to “pastor.” I think it’s been just in the past few weeks that I’ve begun to realize that being bi-vocational (I don’t mind the word) looks differently for different people.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends up for me…


  1. Ongoing Conversation>> church, money, and the future « aaron klinefelter
  2. church, money, and sustainability « beauty and depravity
  3. Bi-vocational… nice try, but no cigar

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