It’s the End of the Church As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Feb 17, 2022
co-vocational pastors are the future of the church

Today I’m kicking off a new series on why I think we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of the Church as we’ve known it in America. And why I think it’s OK for you and me to feel fine about that. (With a hat tip to R.E.M., of course!)

Also, I’ll explain why I believe co-vocational pastors are the future of the Church. And why now is THE time for pastors like you and me to figure out how to leverage our ministry skills into a secondary income source, so we can serve God and provide for our families no matter what.

The next five episodes or so in this series will be on the shorter side – maybe 10 or 15 minutes each.

And in each one I’ll share a different cultural, social, or economic shift or trend that is disrupting the current “traditional” or “institutional” church model, and I believe points to a co-vocational future for pastors.

So what exactly do I mean by “co-vocational?” And is that really any different from “bi-vocational?” I’ll give you my quick definition and distinction between those two in a moment.

The Church Was Made of and for Disruption

But first, let me be clear that I’m NOT saying that these trends point to the end of the church in America.

Because I firmly believe that Jesus is fully in control and that he’s still building his church to fulfill his redemptive plan in the world.

But I do believe this may be the end of the church as we’ve known it for the last 50 plus years in America.

And that the church of the 21st century will end up looking more like the church of the 1st century than the 20th century. And this is a good thing!

Because the traditional, institutional, corporate church model is broken, and needs to be disrupted to make way for “fresh expressions” of church that will reach the growing majority of people who will never be reached by traditional churches.

The good news is that the church was birthed from disruption! And it is reformed, renewed, and reborn from disruption as well.

More on this in the next couple of episodes…

What's the Difference Between Bi-vocational and Co-vocational ministry?

So today let’s define what I mean by co-vocational. Because this may be a word you haven’t heard before.

I’m a Gen X-er, so growing up, I was familiar with the word bi-vocational, and that typically described a pastor who worked part-time in the church, had to work a “secular” job in the marketplace to pay the bills, and prayed for the day when the church could hire them full-time.

Often, the bi-vocational pastor’s “secular” work in the marketplace was seen as distinct and separate from their “ministry” work in the church.

Co-vocational is, as my friends in Cambodia say, “Same same, but different.” It means a pastor works in the church and in the marketplace, but the two are purposely complementary.

The Benefits of Co-vocational Ministry

Co-vocational pastors feel called to have one foot in the marketplace and one foot in the church. And their work in the marketplace isn’t a means to an end, but an integral part of who they are, and an extension of their church ministry.

In the co-vocational model, churches love that they aren’t financially strapped by the pastor’s full salary. And pastors love that their livelihood isn’t limited by the church’s ability to pay.

While bi-vocational pastors were praying they could become full-time in their church, today’s co-vocational pastors resist that.

They love that their business or job in the marketplace keeps them grounded in their community, that their salary doesn’t put a financial strain on their church, and that they have the potential for greater financial and time freedom.

Why Co-vocational Pastors are the Future of the Church

So in this series we’ll explore why I think the church of the future will be led by co-vocational pastors. And how we can future-proof our ministry and income by turning what we know, love, and do into a profitable, passion-based business.

And next time, I’ll share what I think is one of the biggest reasons why co-vocational pastors are the future of the church: Donald Trump & Evangelical Politics.

If that sounds interesting to you, I hope you’ll join me.

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