“And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought:
for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”  Acts 18: 3 (KJV)

Ray Gilder, TBC and SBC bi-vocational pastor specialist reports that roughly half of all pastors are bi-vocational.  A bi-vocational pastor is a pastor/minister that draws a salary from another vocation; a full-time student who also serves as a pastor/minister; or a retiree from one vocation yet serving in a pastoral leadership capacity of a local church.  He is not a part-time pastor.  The majority of those classified as bi-vocational are in the other full-time vocational category.

Jeanne and I have had the joy of being a part of the February bi-vocational retreat held in Pigeon Forge for almost a decade.  These men and women have become not only our friends but our heroes!  Kevin Ezell has called them the “iron men” of the Southern Baptist Convention.  These are truly some of the most gifted, talented, and faithful men serving in any capacity in Great Commission work.

The bi-vocational pastor is, and a growing number will be, at the forefront of the culture-changing, lost-winning, disciple-making, church-planting, church revitalizing, darkness-piercing moment of reversing decades of decline in the evangelical world.  We must redouble our efforts in equipping, supporting, and encouraging the present generation, as well as a new generation, that are called of God to be tentmakers.  There is a new wave of university students preparing for both a chosen profession and pulpit ministry.  These young people are called of God to do what they’re doing for the cause of Christ, and they are going to make a dramatic difference in reaching millions for Him.

If you are serving in a position that is described as bi-vocational, please know that you are loved and appreciated for all you do.

  1. October 15, 2012

    Lord willing, we plan to once again attend the bi-vocational retreat in February. Last year’s event was the first one for my wife and I, and let me tell you, it was truly a blessing (with one exception – I am funnier than the comic you had, but that’s ok). If more churches only knew how much a conference like that helps pastors like us cope, they would figure ways to pay the expenses of going, instead of making the pastor pay for it all himself (including time away from other employment). I would recommend that your office, Dr. Davis, send a letter addressed to the deacon boards of our churches on our behalf. Who knows? Maybe if they knew in advance they might be more liberal with funds for such things.

  2. October 15, 2012

    This word is so important and needed. This may be one of the first major editorials on bi-vo’s sent to Tennessee Baptists. Thank you, Brother Randy so much.

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