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I got bucked off the full-time ministry bull at the end of my first rodeo. I was leaving for the mission field and needed to fall back on my RN degree. I climbed back onto the bull during my second rodeo, and got thrown even harder.  This time it was when I “had it all” as the evangelist at Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s church “Sandfields” in the UK. I’d been working as their evangelist for a year straight, doing all the gnarly stuff nobody ever wants to do but then 9/ 11 hit, and all charitable giving in America dropped by 50% and I became a walking statistic, forced to work in a factory to pay my bills. After a year of fruitless hardcore ministry, it only took a few weeks on the factory floor working alongside the rough-necked blue-collar workers to see three people come to Christ.

From that job at the factory, I went on to become a firefighter in the next town I pastored in. Finally, the Starbucks story happened. What’s the point? The point was that I became a lot more effective outside of full-time vocational ministry, and like an evangelistic wrecking ball when I went bi-vocational. I almost felt sorry for Satan at times…

Almost.

Here is the conclusion I’ve come to:

“Sometimes the busyness of our church tasks makes it impossible for us to carry out the one task Jesus asked us to complete. Instead of spending the majority of our time crafting the best sermons on Acts, we need to live the book of Acts. If you spend the majority of your time in a theological cloister oyster, somebody has sold you bad clams. One of the biggest reasons leaders don’t make a dent is because they don’t interact with people. My mentor Peter Jeffery used to say that the congregation attending his church on Sunday would interact with more people by lunchtime on a Monday than he would in a week [1]

As anonymous said A job is what you’re paid for, vocation is what you’re made for.

Being bi-vocational shouldn’t be seen as second best. Paul certainly didn’t see it that way. He saw it as a first choice because he was a strategic evangelist. Paul approached mission with the same shrewdness he approached entrepreneurial business with. Paul’s family business, inherited from his father, would have been financially successful. Successful business men don’t get that way by luck. They are wise, shrewd, and careful. Had Paul’s father not been financially well off, he’d never been able to afford studying at the feet of Gamaliel. When Paul left his occupation as a Pharisee, he went back into the family business, and learned the same business principles that made his father rich. To the prosperous trade town in Ephesus, Paul would write “Make the most of every opportunity”. The word in the Greek speaks of a merchant “buying up” bargains, or shrewdly turning a profit. Paul had learned to strategically grow the family business, but now he applied those same principles to expanding the kingdom.

Bi-vocational ministers are called to both. It’s a balancing act. It’s riddled with challenges, but rife with opportunity. But when you master it, it’s one of the most freeing and rewarding lifestyles a minister can know.

Guy Pfanz was a revitalization pastor like any other who needed to pay the bills when the majority of his tithers walked out the door adding over their shoulder “good luck without our money!” To make ends meet, he started selling cappachino machines, which eventually led to a coffee roasting business. As he prayerfully took bold steps towards purchasing a coffee roaster, he prayed and a man called up the church saying that he and his wife wanted to donate to a good cause rather than blow money on Christmas gifts for each other. Guy unpacked his vision of roasting coffee by day, and training church planters by night, and an envelope came in the mail containing a check amounting to more than Guy’s annual salary. Emboldened by evidence of God being behind this venture, Guy continued to invest in more roasters with the proceeds from his quickly growing coffee business. Every morning, Guy trained them as master coffee roasters, reserving the afternoons to train them for ministry. When they launched out to other neighborhoods and cities in America, they left with a coffee roaster that they’d bought into through a partnership arrangement, fully read to plant a church.  In training them in both ministry and a skill, he empowered them to be as versatile as a Ronin. They could go anywhere, at anytime. Sound familiar?

A planter I know moved from San Diego to Portland, and instead of raising support, he started a cross fit gym. In doing so, he created a community, provided an income, and resourced a place for their church to centrally gather.  When I asked him what mistakes he’d be sure not to repeat next time he planted, he turned the question around and without missing a beat, said “I can tell you what I’d never plant again without doing…developing an independent income stream.” The apostle Paul would have said the same.

In his book The Art of Nonconformity, author Chris Guillebeau reveals how he works remotely from cities all over the world; Singapore, London, Mexico City, and Moscow among others. Instead of a massive house payment, insurance, maintenance and utilities, he stays mobile by investing the same amount of money into flights, hotels, and Uber lifts. He mathematically works out that he actually spends less on the cost of living than the average American. He lives a mobile lifestyle, simply by thinking outside the box.

When will we start sending out our best like the Apostle Paul, rather than only sending our untested, untried, and unwanted leaders? It’s time that we begin to recognize the shift that is happening in America, particularly among the younger generation. Perhaps this generation is being prepped for front line mission like another generation decades before them.


Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.

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