Monday, April 15, 2013

Bivocational Lay Ministry, Part 2

In my last post, Bivocational Lay Ministry (I guess I should have called it part 1), I shared my excitement about God's calling to us: beyond the "livelihood" part. I further wrote:

These are what excite me about bivocational ministry becoming a possible model for not just leadership development but also discipleship, mentoring, and reaching out, in large, mainstream denominational churches.

1) What if together they molded a handful of laypeople, building the same kind of close, honest relationships within a larger group? They’d teach practical ministry, biblical theology and Christianity’s Jewish heritage in an organic, group setting.
2) The idea would be to empower laypeople with clergy-level vision and skills, incubating their sense of calling prior to seminary training -- or possibly instead of it.

Today, I flesh out the word bivocational. The word vocation meaning calling (a strong feeling of suitability for a particular occupation or career) comes from the Latin noun vocatio from the verb vocare meaning to call. Somehow through the years calling came to be reserved for special people, called by God, those who went on to become priests/pastors. Other Christians who were also  called by God came to feel that their vocatio was not inherently service to God and thus the corruption began. The result, nowadays, is that most Christians feel that their vocational calling and their Christian calling are two different things but are they? I don't think so.

In The Hard Sayings of Jesus, F.F. Bruce expounding on Jesus sayings in Matt 6.24 and Luke 16.13 (You cannot serve God and Mammon) writes: "Service of mammon and service of God are mutually exclusive." (p. 184). We cannot do both.

Christians need a way to earn their living. God is not opposed to that at all; in fact his gifts of special abilities for work are indeed a calling in that sense, but there is a deeper and stronger calling - our true calling - beyond making a living to which Jesus calls us, to trust in God to provide (See the lilies). It is in this sense, we are called to be faithful 24/7 followers of Jesus Christ, loving God first, using our talents for His glory, living in his kingdom even while here on earth, spreading his good news, making disciples of others, denying ourselves daily, and serving others. And, we follow this calling - vocation, even as we work in business, academia, or as a pastor. It is in these two senses of vocation then, that I am excited about bivocational lay ministry. What do you think?

Related: 

Bivocational Lay Ministry, Part 1

Robert Austell's What is a pastor?


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