Alban Weekly | A vision for bivocational ministry

10 months ago

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A vision for bivocational ministry
So, you've just graduated from divinity school. You've just been ordained. You're finally ready to be set loose on the church, to do the work you've felt so called to do for so long.
There's just one problem: There aren't that many jobs. In fact, as you study your student loan and contemplate your repayment obligations, churches around the country are confronting a difficult reality: They may no longer be able to afford you.
Since the founding of the church, we have understood ministry to be a matter of vocation-of calling. It is an alignment of one's passions and gifts with the church's needs and purpose.
But in the last hundred years or so, particularly in the context of mainline Protestant traditions in the United States, we have also understood ministry as a profession. Indeed, the establishment of a set of professional norms around ministry was an important means of asserting our importance as an institution; the leaders of our communities were professionals, prepared by extensive and specialized study and accorded the same social status as others in traditional professions, like lawyers and doctors.
Much of the life of our churches is shaped by an understanding that at the very core of our institutions is a full-time, benefitted professional called the minister, or the pastor, or the rector. Our denominational structures command considerable resources in order to define and maintain the qualifying requirements for admission into the ranks of those professionals. Often they devote effort and energy into maintaining benefits systems for the professions in ministry-pension funds, insurance programs, and so forth.
In this moment of change in the circumstances of churches across the nation, the time may be coming for us to gain some perspective on this trend toward professionalization and to see clearly both the benefits it has given us and the costs it has imposed. Two things seem uncontroversial:In mainline traditions, the well-established norm for determining the viability and vitality of a congregation was whether it could support an economic structure shaped around the costs of a full-time, fully benefitted professional.This meant that weighing the call of any given individual for ordained ministry implied the expectation that they would enter fully into the ministerial profession and forsake all others.These two points now both seem due for reassessment. A growing number of congregations are finding that they cannot afford the salary, health-care insurance premiums, pension benefits, and expense allowances that traditionally comprised the pay package for that full-time professional. Yet they have immensely capable lay members, passion for service in the name of Christ, and possibilities for growth-if only they could in some way find ordained leadership that was less costly.
Read more from Mark Edington »
Use coupon code CPIGC18 when ordering Bivocational: Returning to the Roots of Ministry -- and save!
Offer Expires 8/31/2018. Offer only valid when ordering through Church Publishing, Inc.
What if, instead of fixing or teaching young people, we listened to them? Really listened? 
For the Rev. Dr. Almeda M. Wright, the notion of radical listening changed her ministry and her research into the spiritual lives of young people as a professor at Yale Divinity School. In her conversation with "Can These Bones" co-host Laura Everett, this engineer-turned-pastor-turned-professor talks about how a youth program influenced her as a young African-American woman, how spoken-word poetry is a spiritual practice, and what it means to employ radical improvisational pedagogy. She also reflects on how the learnings from her book on youth spirituality can be employed immediately in many contexts.
Read or listen to this podcast »
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It's time to recalibrate expectations of the clergy
Denominations and congregations have based their expectations on full-time, paid ministry -- and yet the trend is toward part-time, bivocational and unpaid clergy.
Read more from Nathan E. Kirkpatrick »
The bivocational congregation
Churches of tomorrow will need to be bivocational congregations, local churches that operate upon two callings -- the calling of function and the calling of mission.
Read more from Anthony Pappas, Norm Faramelli, and Ed Pease »
We may all be headed to bivocational ministry 
Our institutions have to become more nimble, more entrepreneurial, more missional if they're going to have futures, says a theologian and pastor. And that means a change in the nature of ministry.
Read more from Jason Byassee »
Heart, Mind, and Strength: Theory and Practice for Congregational Leadership
by Jeffrey D. Jones
Leadership, observes Jeffrey Jones, is never about you. What happens to you as a leader stems from a vast array of issues and dynamics over which you have little or no control. 
Leadership, Jones also insists, is always about you -- Christ's disciple, part of the system, an individual with your own anxieties and a personal life that shapes both your personhood and your relationships.
Heart, Mind, and Strength is about dealing with the tension between these two realities. What we know is important. So is who we are -- maybe even more so. Of course, admits Jones, no book can tell us everything we need to know about leadership -- the "what" of it. And certainly no book can shape our personhood -- the "who" of leadership. Jones, however, shares both theoretical and practical insights that will inform the "what' and influence the "who" of your leadership in transformative ways. Jones organizes the book around the daily practices of leadership, treating it as both a skill and an art. 
Heart, Mind, and Strength will enhance your practice of ministry by providing well-grounded theory related to the practical concerns you encounter in the daily work of balancing what you know with who you are.
 Learn more and order the book »
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