Co-vocational vs. Bi-vocational
Called To Business I’m a little slow in picking up on things. I have been a businessman for over thirty years, but it is only within the last two years that I have considered this a calling, not a job. I have loved every year of my business life…some more than others, and I seem to be somewhat good at it. But it wasn’t until I started planning for succession that I recognized the spiritual dimension in which I was engaged. I feel as called to business as I am to ministry.
Called To Ministry I have a definite call to ministry. I can tell you the exact moment that God called me to plant Destiny Church, but God never released me from the call He placed on my life for business. Honestly, that was somewhat challenging, and it even got a little embarrassing. I will never forget the day during a pastors conference in Costa Mesa, CA when a well-meaning pastor sharply criticized me for keeping my day job. He informed me that I was not giving God my full devotion. Fortunately, though his words were cutting, I remembered a story about my grandfather. He was told the same thing. But it was his denomination that shared that sentiment, and after he had planted six churches and personally funded their church buildings through his business, they took away his ordination papers because he was not giving God his full devotion. I will tell that story in another writing.
Co-vocational I was just introduced to this term by my friend and hero, David Rhodenhizer. The word vocation comes from a Latin word, vocatio, which means a call or a summons. The prefix is the problem. The prefix ‘bi’ denotes a separation, and in our use of the word actually infers dualism. It’s what started the idea among church leaders in the fourth century to define things as sacred or secular…a very unsafe doctrine. But I love the word ‘co’-vocation. In its base form, it means together, or one. Our two vocations or callings work as one in order to make great things happen. Think about this. If you are a Christ-follower, you are called to full-time ministry. And most of you will have a full-time job and calling while fulfilling your other full-time calling of ministry. There is just one of us.
A Bunch Of Heroes I just had the privilege of spending some time with Scotty Howard and his team from Sherwood, AR. They just planted City Church Sherwood. Check this out. Their entire team of four guys are all co-vocational. They have had tremendous success in planting this church, and they did it for almost no money. More important, they have no plans to get paid by the church. They feel that they would be walking away from their fields of ministry by leaving the jobs to which they are called!
The Future? With all my heart, I believe men and women all across our country are going to understand and engage in this incredible venture. This does not mean that people who are employed by a church are doing this wrong. They are giving their all as well, and we really need them. But let’s not rule out this gift that God has given us.
October 18, 2017 @ 1:53 pm
Great post Greg! Thanks for sharing. I’m sure you remember that I was on the “one or the other” side of this discussion years ago. But it is amazing how the Lord can change our perspective if we will remain open to His ideas. I feel this more than ever as I direct the TV Station in Ecuador. I have so much to learn about the business side of my calling (well both sides, really)! Keep up the good writing. You have a lot to share that will help all of us!
November 23, 2017 @ 1:53 pm
Thom, great to hear from you. You are one of those people who use your gifts for both ministry and business…and the lines become blurred. That’s a great thing!
Dr. Dee Stokes
August 1, 2018 @ 7:55 pm
I love this! Thank you for clearing this up. I am reconsidering co-vocational ministry, and this really spoke to me. Blessings…
October 8, 2018 @ 7:05 am
Thank you for your post. I just read an article about co-vocational in the “On Mission” magazine from the NAMB of the Southern Baptist Convention. They featured several co-vocational pastors and their secular jobs. Very interesting. Our church is without a pastor at this time and we are looking into options. We know the Lord will lead us in the right direction.
Thanks again, Suzette