Qualifications for a Bivocational Pastor

Bivocational pastors support their family with traditional and ministry jobs.

Bivocational pastors support their family with traditional and ministry jobs.

Bivocational pastors are pastors who work another job outside of their parish ministry. Some do related work like chaplaincy, while others work in unrelated fields like manufacturing, construction, corporate engineering or music. Churches experiencing financial challenges find it more affordable to hire bivocational pastors who do not rely on the church for their entire livelihood. Pastors find it more realistic to participate in ministry when they aren't completely reliant on the church for food, housing and other needs. Meet the requirements necessary for becoming a pastor and use your skills to serve a church while you keep the stability of your main job.

Complete the education necessary for ordination in your church denomination. Most churches require pastors to earn a bachelor's degree and then complete a master of divinity degree at an approved and accredited seminary. Some denominations also license pastors to preach before these requirements are met, as long as they stay in school. Attending school while working as a bivocational pastor could prove challenging, especially if you also have a family, so consider waiting to enter the ministry until your educational requirements are met.

Complete an internship in parish ministry. Mainline denominations require pastors to engage in one to three years of parish ministry after seminary before you are ordained. Ordination candidates with extensive ministry experience sometimes can have this requirement waived.

Become ordained in your denomination. You will need to take an ordination exam, sit before an ordination panel and preach a sermon. The ordination panel will give final approval for your ordination.

Find a pastoral position serving a local church. Some bivocational pastors are senior pastors, while others are assistant pastors. The job search process differs by denomination. Some denominations conduct your job search for you and assign you to a church, while others require you to conduct your own job search. If your denomination conducts a job search for you, be sure they know your intentions to work outside the field as well.

Work out the details of your ministry position. Some churches want the pastor to work part time at the church and full time at their main job, while other churches want a full-time pastor who only works a part-time job outside of ministry work. Discuss whether you will get your insurance and other benefits through the church or through your nonministry position, as well as expected hours for both. If your church is in another state or city, discuss who pays for relocation costs. Your nonministry job may be able to transfer you to work in your new location, or you may need to search for another job close to the church.

Items you will need

  • Ministry job
  • Secular job
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Master of divinity degree
 

About the Author

Anne Kinsey has been a writer for 10 years, with her writing published in print newsletters, as well as websites including eHow and LIVESTRONG. She is also a minister and violinist holding a B.A. in religion and African American studies, and a M.Div. in pastoral counseling.

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