Saturday, July 11, 2015

3 Reasons Why Bivocational Ministry is Necessary

Last time out, I talked about three unique challenges for 21st century youth pastors. Today, I'm going to change course a bit and discuss three reasons why bivocational ministry is necessary, especially in the time we live.
1) It Extends Kingdom Power
For those who are in Christ, there’s no greater call than to be an extension of God’s life (i.e. fullness, wholeness, and freedom) to the lost1. Unfortunately, for many churches, such life remains concealed by a culturally-dictated ‘separation of church and state’ philosophy.
Granted, the relationship between church and state has been controversial since the discovery of America. Yet, despite where the 21st century western church is today, I believe the body of Christ must remain fearlessly committed to farm faith and carry the Gospel torch into secular arenas, especially the bivocational.

'Cause when we dare to live what we preach, we help chisel away part of the wall between culture and church by giving people within our sphere of influence the opportunity to taste and see that the Lord…is…good (Psalm 34:8).
Now I admit: representing the Gospel consistently in the ho-hum places of the world can be a great challenge; however, if we truly seek to leave a Kingdom legacy wherever God takes us, we’ll not only inspire people through the decisions we make, but also position ourselves to be supernaturally refreshed.
So in short, if we’re faithful to salt our surroundings with faith, hope and love, we’ll not only inspire the broken, but also encourage the saved (through steadfast encouragement and accountability).
2) It Promotes Greater Reliance
Bivocational ministry is complex…especially when you consider we live in an increasingly pluralistic society where more and more ministers juggle multiple responsibilities and work secondary jobs to make ends meet.
While this may sound like the foundation of a stress-laden lifestyle, truth is, there are many benefits to living a life full of personal and financial sacrifices.
For one thing, a bivocational life compels one towards greater reliance upon God.
What do I mean by “greater reliance”?
Well, for starters, “greater reliance” means you don’t have to live in perpetual discouragement when you find yourself wishing you had more time to invest relationally and/or ministerially. In fact, with “greater reliance”, you can simply confess your limitations to God and invite Him into your circumstances, regardless of how they look2.
Note: For those looking for deeper theology here, I know this may sound painfully basic, but trust me…when you put “greater reliance” into practice, you’ll not only strengthen your spiritual walk, but the tent pegs of your faith’s influence as well.
How awesome is that?
3) It Encourages the Saints
I mentioned earlier how bivocational ministry is necessary in the sense it extends the power and influence of Christ’s Kingdom further into secular settings.
While this is undoubtedly true, it shouldn’t overshadow the fact bivocational ministry is also meant to be a place of encouragement for other leaders trying to stay the course.
In fact, I’m submit we should be just as passionate about reaching “the ends of the earth” as taking advantage of the “open door” opportunities God sets up for us to share our testimony with those in similar boats of life.
As far as people thinking this isn’t necessary, especially since more bivocational ministers leads to a more diluted pastoral profession, let me just say this: if we’re serious about expanding truth, then shouldn’t we want to reach those who’ve been given the opportunity to reach more people? Or are we so concerned about our own qualifications we forget God has already qualified the called (Romans 8:30)?
I mean…I confess…I can be a “challenge accepted” kind of guy.
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But as one who doesn’t buy into the ‘pastor is only a pastor if he’s a licensed full-timer’ notion, I believe it’s important for bivocational ministers to realize though the balancing act may involve certain acquiescences, ministerial professionalism (which includes supporting our fellow leaders in the Lord) should never be one of them.
As the Scriptures say, we work for the Lord in all things (Colossians 3:23-24)…and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Footnotes
1) Restoring God’s original design
2) Thus, living bivocationally not only carries the potential to develop stronger reliance, but sweeter intimacy as well. Furthermore, I’d submit if we’re living our bivocational callings effectively, then there should be moments along the journey where we have no choice but to fully surrender and proclaim our dependence upon the Lord
Photo credits: www.releasetheape.com & centerpointchris.files.wordpress.com

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Declaration of Independence: Finding True Freedom in a Lost World

Well, folks…another 4th of July has officially arrived…

…a day when millions of barbecuin’ Americans raise a flag, fire up a grill, set off some fireworks…and actually make an effort to talk to their neighbors.

After all, ‘tis the season for celebrating freedom…
                                       …as one nation…
under God.

But perhaps you’re sitting there like me wondering why the liberty bells seem to be ringing a more bittersweet tune this year, at the same time, searching a solve for that same ol' question that surfaces every Fourth…

What the shrek am I celebrating today anyway?

‘Cause while there’s certainly much to celebrate as one nation under God1, truth is, it’s no secret we’re [significantly] less indivisible than ever before. And while I’m not here to rehash the major headlines of the past five weeks2, these events have, no doubt, underscored our country’s lack of moral compass.

Granted, we may think we’re free in the sense we have individual rights. We may think we’re a nation pursuing justice for all based on recent “civil”3 breakthroughs.

But when it comes to understanding what true freedom is all about, we, the people, (#Merica), don’t have a stinkin’ clue.

How can that be?

Well, for starters, we’ve made our ‘self’ the god of the age and idolatry the expression of worship by which we find satisfaction4; hence, why everything (every issue, question, and decision) is filtered through the question: How does this apply to me?

In addition, we've culturally compartmentalized and redefined our country's founding principles into bite-sized pieces relative to the individual. As a result, freedom now is more a celebration of self-autonomy, justice...a heartcry for equality, and love...an avenue for tolerance5

Yet, perhaps what’s even more alarming than the latest crumbles in our country’s “integrity cookie”, is the fact, we, the body of Christ, aren’t fully representing what we claim to stand for.

For example, we say we stand for freedom in Christ, but abide by the same freedom philosophy as everyone else (i.e. what ultimately matters in life is having the free will to do whatever I want…as long as it’s “culturally/socially acceptable”). We say we’ve found the answer, but act as if it doesn’t apply…as if head knowledge is enough. We say we’ve been declared innocent, but neglect both the cost (i.e. Jesus died for all) and the call (i.e. we’re created to partner in his work of restoring life to the broken).

Surely what we’re seeing in this time is, in large part, a result of such passivity and lenience, right6?

And please hear me: I’m not trying to judge the world here, neither am I excluding myself from the blame. Trust me…the good Lord knows I’m far from perfect when it comes to speaking the truth in love, granted, I’m actively trying to grow in this.

All I’m saying is there’s much going on in the world today opposing God’s definition of true freedom.

What is true freedom, you might ask?

Well, when we take a synoptic look at the Scriptures, we find…
So in fairness to the question, when it comes to celebrating our independence, we should not only be thankful for living in the land of the free, the home of the brave...but also for the opportunity we have to live in true freedom according to God's original intent.

Thus, my encouragement to you, friends, is to not let the troubles of this age shake your faith, to compromise your belief in what true freedom is. For it is "for [true] freedom Christ has set us free; stand and firm therefore, and do not summit again to a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). 
Many blessings to you as you bask in joy and freedom this Independence Day weekend.
~ Cameron
Footnotes

1) Whether you believe in Him or not
2) Mainly Caitlyn Jenner, the Charleston church shooting, and the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling
3)  Sarcasm alert; basically, a soft-served nudge at anyone equating homosexual issues to segregation issues of the 1950’s & 1960’s
4) Satisfaction, that is, in compliance with our self-centered desires; a mere mirage of the everlasting joy we find in Christ
5) Thus, it should be no surprise why our society keeps stressing the idea that freedom is equal to free-will; don’t be surprised if I unpack this later in a future post
6) I’d submit the church’s share of passivity and lenience is doing more damage to our nation’s spiritual fiber than any other corrupt agenda


Photo credits: www.linsondaniel.com

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.