Beloved: a community discussion concerning God’s beloved

In the United States and around the world, immigration and the welcoming of refugees continue to be among the most controversial issues. Domestically, debates about policy have divided our lawmakers, our judicial system, and even our churches. Refugees continue to seek out a safe place for their families away from the conflict, drought, and turmoil of their home countries. Immigrants continue to seek greater opportunities in wealthy nations. Meanwhile, terrorism also continues, turning many away from the idea of welcoming the stranger.

But aside from the political and legislative complexities surrounding immigration, what does the Bible tell us about how Christians should approach foreigners seeking refuge and opportunity?

As a son of immigrants myself, I’m keenly aware of how past immigration policies affected my own family and the struggles immigrants have in assimilating into American culture.  My parents were afforded an opportunity that changed my family’s lives forever.

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

 Currently residing in Dayton, OH—which prides itself on being a welcoming city for immigrants—I decided to host a conversation about the current circumstances and how they can be viewed through a Christian lens.

On Tuesday, February 28th, at 6:30 p.m., join us for A Community Conversation Concerning Refugees. A panel of local scholars, pastors, and community leaders will lead the discussion about what our faith has to say about immigrants and refugees.

The panel will be comprised of Drs. Peter Bellini, Brad Burroughs, Anthony Le Donne, Joni Sancken, and David Watson, all faculty at United Theological Seminar. The panel will also include community leaders Benjamin Holmes and Erin McKenzie.

This event will take place at The Point Campus, 506 E Main St. in Trotwood. Follow me on Facebook for a livestream of the discussion. Or contact me at rpicardo@ginghamsburg.org or 937.667.1069 for more information.

A New Year and New Hat

It’s a new year and I’ll be wearing an additional hat for 2017.

Thirteen months ago, I was driving with Wayne Botkin, a good friend of mine, from a church planting meeting at Vineyard Church in Columbus. Wayne is a campus pastor at Christ Church who received his call to ministry at Ginghamsburg in the early nineties. Vineyard is a megachurch with an emphasis on planting churches, which they have done more than sixty times across the United States. Wayne and I were blown away by the movement of God to multiply faith communities. As we were driving, Wayne and I began to ask the question, “Why is it that when a church is planted only one planter is sent?” The biblical model Jesus instituted in the New Testament demonstrates this work being done in teams; Jesus sent out his disciples two by two. Then we said to each other, “What if we planted a church together?”

In Acts 13 we read that after fasting and prayer by the leaders of the church at Antioch (where followers of Jesus were first called “Christians”), Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit for a special work—to start new churches—preaching the word of God. They were resourced by the church, and sent to reach out beyond Antioch. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So, after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

Wayne and I didn’t give our idea much credence initially, since we are each part of two different churches. Yet neither of us could shake the conversation. We started to realize a God-dream was being birthed in our hearts: two pastors coming together to plant a shared church. Our next thought was that there was no way our churches would agree to partner; it’s just not typically done by two different churches. After more thought and prayer, we decided to approach our lead pastors and others. Surprisingly, all parties were intrigued. Both Wayne and I and our churches had looked at the Beavercreek area as a growing location that was underserved by faith communities. After much prayer, meetings, and deliberation, I’m truthfully still a little shocked that this God-dream is about to come to fruition. We plan to launch a new faith community together in the fall of 2017.

I look forward to sharing more details as this story unfolds.

World Changers

Our church is located in an economically depressed urban area just outside of Dayton, Ohio. One of our primary missions as a church is to cheer this tightknit community towards renewal and growth. Sometimes struggling neighborhoods need to be reminded that they are strong, they are capable, and they are well cared for. In my experience, when a church takes the time to discover and support the good work others are already doing on a daily basis, the result is a more effective church, better outreach, and a transformed community.

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Here are a couple things we’re doing as a church in Trotwood, Ohio, to build connections, lend support, and offer encouragement.

World Changers Day: Sometimes a simple thank you in recognition of outstanding care, personal sacrifices, and hard work can go a long way. Next Sunday, we’re dedicating time in our regular church service to do just this. Additionally, public servants in the community have been invited to stay for a luncheon in their honor after. We will recognize the area police, firefighters, medics, teachers, and other public servants for their important work that often goes uncelebrated or even unseen. We appreciate these folks making it their life work to protect, serve, teach, and empower the citizens in our community. It sends an important message to stand together and say: “We care. These individuals care. This community is well cared for.”

Kickball and Pizza: As a follow-up to the World Changers Day, those honored will be invited to attend our second annual Kickball and Pizza event hosted by a nearby sibling church, Fort McKinley. This is a fun, low-key way to foster relationships between area public servants and the kids in their neighborhoods. When public servants and the people they serve meet and form connections “off the job,” the ability to communicate, empathize, and work together in tough times is improved. “There’s nothing better than a great day of kickball playing with the kids,” shares Officer Zachary Williams, Dayton Police Department and volunteer at The Point Campus. “At last year’s event, the kids were so excited and treated the first responders like heroes!”

What does your church do to build bridges and encourage the community towards renewal?

Who’s in Your Corner? Second in a two-part blog inspired by the movie, Creed

boxer and fist dramatic ighting

Donnie Johnson, a.k.a. Adonis Creed, seeks out Rocky and tells him: “I want you to train me. I need somebody solid and who else better to go to? You at least owe me that.” Initially, Donnie has to hound Rocky to be his trainer. Rocky’s done with boxing. Rocky has lost many people he loved in his life. Rocky is himself facing a potentially terminal illness. Rocky feels responsible for the death of Donnie’s father in the ring. But, despite the unlikely match, the relationship that forms between Donnie and Rocky turns out to be a whole that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

Muhammad Ali once said, “The greatest lesson I’ve learned was … to always have someone in your corner who’s pushing you and making you do things you don’t think you can do.”Creed-Movie-Rocky-Trailer

Let’s switch gears and recall the story of a prophet’s apprenticeship back in the Old Testament. Elisha was the son of a wealthy land-owner. He is approached one day by Elijah, the great prophet of that time. God has told Elijah to anoint Elisha as his student and successor. When Elijah approaches Elisha, and throws his mantle over him, Elisha makes a fast decision to follow. During the next eight years, Elisha goes everywhere with Elijah, learning every step of the way. By the time Elijah is taken into heaven, Elisha requests and is granted a “double portion” of Elijah’s blessing. This is taken to mean that Elisha was able to do as much as and more than his teacher in his own ministry. Twice as many miracles are attributed to Elisha as to Elijah in the Bible.

Jesus himself told his disciples immediately following the Resurrection that he would be in their corner: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Who do you have in your corner? Jesus is, of course, the perfect coach, and we do sometimes hear what we need to hear through prayer or other solitary spiritual practices. Often, however, the Holy Spirit teaches us through other people. We need t
rusted, experienced people who can see the long-view, who can see what we are capable of when we cannot, who can give us the truth—whether or not we want to hear it—when it is most needed.

  • As a kid who had trouble sitting still in the classroom, the last thing I ever imagined was voluntarily signing up for more school than was required by law. However, thirteen years ago, when I was in seminary in Kentucky, I happened to meet the guy who later became my mentor, my workout partner, and eventually my friend. Peter Bellini lives in Dayton, Ohio, and when he lead a doctoral group at United Theological Seminary here, I knew I wanted to learn from him, which meant enrolling in more school. When I’d get discouraged or frustrated balancing everything, Pete would encourage me in my fight and not let me give up. In fact, when I graduated seminary he gave me a pair of boxing gloves as a gift.If you don’t already know who’s in your corner, here are some suggestions for finding that needed coach and being a good student:Ask God to provide a mentor t
    o you. Sometimes mentorships develop organically. Other times you can find a mentor through work, church, or another organization. In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg suggests: “If someone has to ask the question, the answer is probably no. When someone finds the right mentor, it is obvious. The question becomes a statement. Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works.” Sandberg recommends finding a great mentor from among the people you’re already interacting with on a regular basis. Someone who knows your strengths and passions, someone you click with, and someone who knows that you value their insight is going to be a great match.
  • Mentorships come in various forms. It may not always develop into a comfortable friendship. On the other hand, it may be someone you’re already in a close relationship with. It may not be someone in a higher position than you at work; it could be a peer. It may not even be someone older than you. The relationship may last many years or a lifetime, or it may
    be there only during a necessary season. The basic fact of mentors is that they are in your corner. They understand you and encourage you. They invest their time and energy into helping you fight a better fight.
  • The person in your corner can’t feed you every move in a fight. A). It’s your fight. B). Even if he or she identifies very closely with you, your mentor is not you. A mentor can help analyze circumstances—past, present, and future— and in doing so, this person can help you become a better judge of circumstances and next moves on your own. Keep pressing on. Do not become overly dependent upon your mentor, but instead rely on him or her in those times you feel truly stuck or in need of encouragement.
  • Although there is some clear directionality in a mentorship, look for ways the relationship can be symbiotic. A mentor is not
    infallible or done learning. A mentor has his or her own fights. How can you help?

How have you identified the person or people in your corner?

What Is Rooted?

green tree with a massive root system

The first-ever ROOTED Church Planting Networkers Conference on April 19/20 will pull together ministry leaders interested in planting churches as well as those who have successfully done so. At this conference, many different models will be discussed, including plants in suburban settings as well as urban and rural ones. Restart models will be presented along with plants and multi-sites.

“My hope for this event is that people interested in church planting will leave encouraged and equipped,” shares Rosario (Roz) Picardo, Executive Pastor of New Church Development at Ginghamsburg Church who is leading Ginghamsburg’s church planting network efforts.

12193570_832708480172166_2161915082658238784_nPrior to joining Ginghamsburg in 2014, Pastor Roz founded Embrace Church, an urban church plant in Lexington, Kentucky, with no money, no people and no building. An insightful retelling of his own personal story can be found in his book, Embrace: A Church Plant That Broke All The Rules.

Pastor Roz’s insights on transforming the church in a post-Christendom world context uses Embrace Church as a case study to show what can happen in a true bi-vocational, church-plant context.

“Church planting is not for the faint of heart,” continues Pastor Roz who had his car stolen and sold for 20 bucks, his tires slashed, his house vandalized and his life threatened because of his dedication to carrying out the call God placed on his heart.

Pastor Roz is also the author of Ministry Makeover, in which he builds a compelling case as to why embracing bi-vocational missionary methods to implement new congregations is the most viable way forward for reaching the least and the lost.
“We need each other. We need connections and resources; and that is exactly what will come from this networking conference.” To begin connecting, be sure to check out the ROOTED Conference page on Facebook. You can also register online.

Church planters and future church planters are encouraged to bring their teams. “After leaders leave the conference, we want them to have their team around them to dream,” continues Roz, an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church holding a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from United Theological Seminary.

Meet Pastor Jacob Armstrong73429_10200383331176285_408561503_n

Rooted presenter & practitioner

Jacob is the founding pastor of Providence Church, a United Methodist church plant in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Jacob is passionate about what he calls “Worship Without Walls”- taking God’s love beyond the walls of a building to places of need in the community and world. Providence hosts about 1,200 of its neighbors for worship each Sunday in a middle schoo
l but has also met in a city park, a local hotel, a movie theater and an elementary school. The church is currently constructing a new home.

“My heart is for church planting and church planters,” shares Pastor Jacob. “Not everyone is called to this work. I find a great energy and spirit when gathered with those who unashamedly want to see new people connect with Jesus.”

“My hope for those who attend this networking conference is for them to be encouraged to see themselves as the experts in their community,” shares Pastor Jacob. “There is no cookie cutter for how to do ministry in your context. You are the one who will have to listen and learn. You are the missionary.”

During Jacob’s talk on Adaptive Ministry in Different Contexts, he will share some tools to help folks do the work. “At ROOTED, I hope you think deeply, pray hard and listen attentively to give you renewed energy for where God has called you and a new network of people with whom you can do this work.”

Having been in the work of church planting for several years, Jacob will bring an honesty about the struggles of church planting as well as the beautiful things that can seen in this kind of work. He will share about the bumps and bruises he has encountered as a way of
encouraging this who are also in this difficult work. “I know for me that I will be encouraged in the mutual sharing of God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness,” he shares. “Jesus Christ’s church is very much alive!”

Jacob is the author of six books; his book The New Adapters: Shaping Ideas to Fit Your Congregation was written in partnership with Ginghamsburg Lead Pastor Mike Slaughter and Reverend Adam Hamilton from The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

The One Sin Pastors Get Away With (and Why They Shouldn’t)

While the church debates what is sin and what is holy, there is one sin that has largely been ignored over the past few decades. It’s subtle and starts out small, but can become uncontrollable. I’m talking about the sin of pride resulting from success.

One of the most dangerous things a person can experience is success. Much is written about overcoming failure and setbacks, but we disregard their opposite. With a glance at what has been written on the topic, we might conclude that success, especially success in ministry, has no pitfalls. It is the goal, after all. We don’t set out in ministry to be unsuccessful. The metrics the institutional church uses are butts and bucks. Butts in seats when measuring attendance, and bucks that go toward the annual budget. The churches and clergy that make the top twenty-five lists and whom are considered the most influential are those with the most butts and bucks. They receive the awards and the accolades. If you haven’t yet discovered what I’m talking about, just go to a pastors’ conference if you feel so blessed to do so 🙂pride_teaserThe constant comparisons and questions center on attendance numbers and trends, annual budget, and size of staff and salaries.

Success itself is not the sin. The greatest danger of success is thinking you achieved it on your own. If we are not careful, pride can come before a fall. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism believed that the root of all evil was pride. It was pride that caused Satan’s fall from heaven because he thought he knew better than God. It was pride that Adam and Eve thought God was holding out on them in the Garden of Eden that caused their fall. It was pride that caused the Tower of Babel to crash and burn. And it is pride that tempts us to think we have arrived on our own and leads us to sin.

In the Christian classic, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says:

According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…
… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.

As a pastor, truth be told, I have experienced a ton of failures and a few “successes.” When I have failed I have turned to mentors and colleagues for counsel. They’re the ones who have encouraged me not to give up, talking me off the proverbial ledge. But nobody ever told me how to handle success, especially in ministry. The need to be grounded with a Christ-like humility is what the world needs more than anything else. So how do I stay grounded, even in times of success? Here’s what I’m learning.

Give Thanks to God: Thank God when a prayer is answered and give glory to Him. There are so many times when God has answered a prayer, and I get so excited I forget to say thank you. My parents used to hound me about giving thanks all the time when I was growing up, always “please” and “thank you.” We are typically pretty good at saying please, but when a prayer is answered, we thanklessly move to the next item on our grocery list. If we recognize that God has created us with a specific set of capabilities, that He has gifted us with specific ways we can bless others, that He has allowed us to work with Him on Kingdom work and has given us specific missions and instructions to follow … If we recognize all of this, we have to begin to admit that there were some pretty essential things that, though they may look like they were done by our own power to others, really had nothing to do with our “own” work and strengths to begin with! Thank God for allowing and enabling us to take part in His work!

Give Thanks to others: Whenever we experience a victory on my campus, I have learned to thank my paid and unpaid servants and staff. Without them, I would be lost and couldn’t do what I do. Every team member is valuable no matter what the role or scope of responsibility. Again, we know that God brings people together at various times and in various settings, for His specific purposes that we could not fully comprehend or achieve on our own. Although we may find ourselves with the title that says, “I’m the leader of this group,” and while, sometimes, if we’re completely honest, we may not even understand the contributions someone else is there to make, we must acknowledge and give thanks that God is the project manager and the casting director. Recognize those who work hard behind the scenes. I believe that as leaders, we can’t say “thank you” enough to our teams, our support people, and even to the people who allow us to serve them.

Give thanks to those who will tell you the truth: When an individual, organization, or church experiences success, the resulting pride can make it harder to ask the tough questions, for others to be willing to tell us the truth, and for us to hear the truth, no matter how much we might not want to. I know the people in my life who love me the most are willing to be honest with me. Of course, trust has to be at the foundation. If you trust where someone is coming from and know they care about you, the truth in what they are saying will still sting in the short term, but it will soothe your soul in the long run. There are many voices in the Church that want to be “prophetic” and speak the truth, but don’t bring their truth with an ounce of love. Truth tellers come in the context of relationship.

God knows the plans He has for us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to bring us hope and a future. God wants our success, especially in those areas where He has gifted us, where He has placed us, and where He has directed and commissioned us. But God also wants others to see that—even as successful leaders—He is doing His work through us; we are not doing it alone! Even as the best of the best in whatever ministry we may do, there’s no miracle in doing merely human-sized tasks separate from God. When others see God working, God’s work is accomplished. We can help other see God’s work by remaining humble and thankful—for God and for the work of others—in our moments of success.

Don’t Throw In The Towel

There are times in life when it becomes easy to give up and throw in the towel. As a kid, if you ever played a sport or an instrument what we’ve heard often times ringing in our ears is “practice makes perfect.” How often are we perfect at something? We may be good, but perfect? It seems like no matter how hard we try at things, we can’t ever be quite perfect because, despite being able to control ourselves, wdontthrowtowele can’t control the outside variables or the outcome. What happens when you try something over and over again and feel like a failure?

The marriage that is in constant turmoil…

The never-ending search for Mr. or Mrs. Right…

The business start up that never took off…

Getting passed over for a promotion at work…

The seemingly endless struggle to get out of debt…

Working out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle…

When we experience continual failures in any area of our lives, the temptation to give up grows stronger. No matter how hard we work or try, the results never seem to come quickly enough for us. Even when we work a plan or strategy, prepare harder than anybody else, the results can still disappoint us. So what’s the answer? It’s the gift of stubbornness. When I was discouraged early on in my ministry, a pastor friend of mine told me only half in jest that it’s actually a spiritual gift I should pray for. When we have done all we can do, the greatest gift we can give ourselves, others and most of all God is to stand tall and not back down. Click To Tweet

The famous tennis star, Andre Agassi once said, “Success and failure are so often the result of outside factors, things beyond our control, so you need to keep your mind on the few things you can control. Learn to love the process, the work, and disconnect your ego from the results. The earlier you learn this, the more peaceful you’ll be, and peace, not success, is the goal.”

The truth is I know many people who have given up right before they experienced a breakthrough. The question we have to ask ourselves is how do we define success or failure? Failure doesn’t have to define our lives; it’s a moment and doesn’t have to be a state of being. 90 % of the battle we fight is simply getting out of bed, giving our best efforts to what God has called us to do and leaving the results to God.

Successful Habits Of A Night Owl

For those of us who aren’t successful waking up at five a.m., I got news for you: you, too, can be productive. At the beginning of every year, I see articles about habits of the “highly successful.” For some reason, they all seem to agree with that old Ben Franklin adage about early to rise. But contrary to popular belief, night owls can catch the worm, too. Not everybody is wired the same, and productivity can peak at specific points. Click To Tweetnight-owlI do my best writing past nine p.m. In fact, I finished a book manuscript working past ten p.m. every night for two months. Some of my habits are the following:

Drink coffee … lots of it.

Work outside, especially if it’s warm. I love sitting at our outdoor table or working next to a campfire when I’m writing or working on a project.

Multitask. I often do this with Netflix. I enjoy having background noise going while I’m doing something. I’ll also have Facebook chats or text message conversations going on. These things can make you feel like, even though the lights are down, the world is still awake keeping you company while you work.

Steps. If I haven’t gotten all my steps in for the day on my step counter, I’ll chase the dog around the house for a while. This helps me keep fit and delivers more energy when I’m flagging and want to get a little more work done.

Any other successful habits you have developed, my fellow night owls?

Dealing With Disappointment

Around this time every year comes a day I look forward to with anticipation: Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a day besides Thanksgiving that American society allows gluttony to be socially acceptable. I’m talking about snacks galore…chicken wings, pizza, chips, dips, nachos…you get the picture. Then of course there are all the other enjoyable aspects… the commercials, hang out time with friends, and then the game itself. While I look forward to the game, it does bring up a lot of painful memories from my childhood as a Buffalo Bills fan. Recently these memories were stirred up again as ESPN featured the story, “Four Falls of Buffalo” to chronicle their four straight Super Bowl defeats from 1990-93. I cried myself to sleep along with the rest of western New York for four straight Super Bowls in a row. The Buffalo Bills became known as “B.I.L.L.S.” Boy I Like Losing Super Bowls and the butt of many jokes. 0ap3000000500835

Every year I thought it was going to be the year we would experience victory, but every year, we came up short. The first Super Bowl was the one that hurt the most because we lost by a field goal (poor Scott Norwood). As much as we got used to losing in the big game, the Bills taught me an important lesson that I have realized years later, how to handle disappointment.

Disappointment doesn’t discriminate. We all experience it whether it’s on a smaller level or a larger level. You didn’t do as well on a test even though you studied for hours. You didn’t get the promotion you thought you deserved. You experienced rejection by someone you were hoping to date. Your job was eliminated. Your spouse cheats on you. A family member passes away. Disappointment happens in ministry, at work, and in personal and family life. We know it will come, but how will we choose to handle it? Here’s what the Bills taught me:

Acknowledge the disappointment. If we never talk about it with friends, in accountability circles or with spouses, we hold onto it instead of getting rid of it. There is something that happens when we are real before others and God. The truth sets us free even if it’s painful. Click To Tweet

Let it kick your butt. But only for a bit. It’s okay to put your head under the covers or bury it in the sand for a moment. It’s totally normal; however, it shouldn’t be something we consistently do. It’s good to remind ourselves of the promise that: “weeping may stay for the night but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b).

It’s not the end of the world. This too shall pass. We always have the promise of a new day with new opportunities before us. Loss and disappointment are very much real emotions but can’t be an excuse for not taking the next opportunity or God-adventure right in front of us. Every season in life comes with twist and turns, but disappointment is not a perpetual season we have to find ourselves in.

Tomorrow is a new day. Life goes on, and the pain doesn’t last even though the scars do. They are reminders of lessons we can learn and carry with us for the rest of our lives to help others for God’s glory.

How do you handle disappointment?

The Financial Benefits of Bi-Vocational Ministry

One of the largest concerns facing the United Methodist Church today is spending and finances. As we watch church attendance decline, Methodist churches across the nation are also struggling with decreases in church funding, budget cuts, slimmer resources, and some are finding it difficult to afford paid clergy. You can only imagine the roadblocks this presents to new church plants or churches who dream of planting sister churches.

Being good stewards of our resources not only includes our money; it also includes investing in the “talents” that are around us. Instead of asking for more money from our congregants, we need to ask God what He has already given us to work with. Bi-vocational ministry is a cost-effective model that allows churches to operate at their highest potential, and bi-vocational church planting is a fiscally responsible model that can reshape the future growth of the UMC.

One successful example of bi-vocational ministry is Embrace Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Embrace Church found a creative way to grow its attendance, entrepreneurial spirit, and meet the needs of the congregations with bi-vocational pastors. Embrace is paving a future reality for most UMC churches where the money is running out. Bi-vocational ministry is financially beneficial for these reasons:

Its cost effective, but high impact.

In 2013, the minimum compensation package for ordained elders in the Kentucky Annual Conference was $71,031, and the average compensation package for ordained elders was $101,780 for one minister. Comparatively, in 2013, the total cost for Embrace Church hiring five bi-vocational pastors was $60,000 (Ministry Makeover, 84-85). The pastors at Embrace worked either as part-time local pastors or received no compensation from the church. These pastors raised support as urban missionaries or they worked paying jobs in addition to doing ministry. As you can see, employing bi-vocational pastors saved Embrace Church thousands of dollars a year.

As a new church plant, bi-vocational ministry was a financially beneficial decision that allowed Embrace to grow in every area of discipleship. For example, Embrace grew 80 percent in professions of faith and 30 percent in baptisms from 2012 to 2013. These statistics show that a bi-vocational model for ministry is a viable option for churches that are seeking a cost-effective, high-impact way of doing ministry.bivocational1

Bi-vocational churches have more money available for other areas of discipleship and growth.

On his blog, Thom Rainer says this about the financial impact of bi-vocational ministry:

“Bi-vocational ministers lead churches that often have a higher percentage of funds available for ministry and missions. In most churches with full-time staff, the largest percentage of their budget goes toward personnel. Funds for doing ministry are often lacking. The church that has fewer personnel commitments, though, can free dollars to reach their neighbors and the nations.”

Bi-vocational ministry is an asset to church growth for many reasons. It is financially beneficial, saving churches thousands that can be distributed to other areas of mission and ministry. Additionally, the theology of bi-vocational ministry supports the priesthood of all believers.

“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (1 Peter 2:5 NLT).

Work, whether it’s as a custodian, chef, doctor, lawyer, or even pastor, should be ministry for a Christian. God’s Kingdom extends beyond the four walls of the church and is ready to erupt in the lives of the people in our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. If we’re talking about spending in the church, these are opportunities we can’t afford to miss. If your church is getting swamped with budgetary cuts, seeking pastoral staff members, or praying about starting a new church, I want to encourage you to bring these ideas to your lead team this week. Then, begin praying about and seeking leaders who are faithful, active, and ready to take on a pastoral role in your church.

If you’re looking for more ways to use bi-vocational ministry in your church, check out my latest book, Ministry Makeover. In it, you’ll learn what key factors made bi-vocational ministry successful. Order or download it today on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.