Allen Kleine Deters, pastor of The Bridge (CRC) in Niagara Falls, Ontario
I was paid to be in full-time staff ministry for almost 30 years. Then God did something unexpected. He called my wife and me to church plant as bivocational pastors. At first, I looked at bivocational work as a stepping-stone to a full-time position. But I no longer expect my church to grow large enough to support a full-time minister. Even if my church could offer me a full-time position, I would turn it down.
Having a bivocational pastor encourages everyone in the church to help minister. People know I work multiple jobs, so involvement by all is crucial to develop inroads to the community. Everyone expects to do their part. This fosters a deeper level of engagement in the missional life of our church community.
Being bivocational has also given me more avenues to connect with the community. Some of my best networking opportunities among business people and locals take place at a local cigar shop where I have a part-time job. God is helping me make incredible connections and gain respect in the community through my work there. Our church plant actually met in the shop on Sunday evenings until we outgrew the space, and the owner of the shop has even come to faith along the way. I’m also a blues musician and have been able to connect with locals by playing in the pubs and other spaces.
I’m learning that my calling as a pastor is not necessarily equated with a salary, or even with my profession. To me, that’s incredibly freeing. And it keeps me on my knees, trusting in God’s provision.