Toolbox #2: The Co-Vo Revolution

Welcome to Volume #2 of the Tentmaker’s Toolbox.

Ever felt like you're living in two different worlds - one foot in ministry and the other in the marketplace? Well, you're not alone! There's a whole movement of pastors and church leaders who are navigating this dual calling just like you. In this edition of our newsletter, we're diving into the world of co-vocational ministry.

You might ask, 'Why co-vocational?' or 'Is this a choice or a necessity?' These are great questions and we're going to address them, unpack the benefits, share some personal stories, and offer actionable steps for those of us embracing this journey. So buckle up and let's dive into the co-vo revolution!

💼 The Co-Vo Revolution

Ever heard the terms 'bi-vocational' or 'co-vocational' and wondered what they're all about? In simple terms, a bi-vocational pastor doesn't look to the church as their source of income.

However, a co-vocational pastor chooses this dual role on purpose – working in both the church and the marketplace. They feel a deep calling to continue their dual roles even if the church could fully support them.

I share this perspective not as a distant observer but as someone who has walked the co-vocational path for nearly two decades. I am a volunteer lead pastor at the church we planted 14 years ago, and I balance this responsibility with my role as a business owner.

My prediction: co-vocational ministry is not just a passing trend. With the economic realities that come with ministry and missions, especially in urban areas where the cost of living can be prohibitive, it seems we're witnessing the beginnings of a co-vocational revolution.

"We estimate that there are over one million bi-vocational pastors and church staff in North America alone."

Thom S. Rainer

Did you catch that? One MILLION bi- or co-vocational pastors. That's a staggering number and one that will continue to grow.

It’s a movement that’s not just coming… it’s already here.

Yet it is not talked about at the big leadership conferences or workshops. (I know because I’ve been to most of the major ones over the years.)

And for some, the co-vocational trend is not solely due to financial reasons. There are several key benefits and motivations behind this movement:

#1 - Burst the Ministry “Bubble”

Most full-time pastors I know live inside a ministry “bubble,” surrounded mostly by their congregation and other church staff, kind of cut off from the rest of the world. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve noticed that it does sometimes limit our viewpoints and keep our influence within a certain circle. Being a co-vocational pastor is like popping that bubble.

Stepping into a co-vocational role means you get to rub shoulders with all sorts of people, not just those in your church. This isn't just about meeting new faces - it’s about understanding what's happening outside our church walls. You get to hear different stories, experience various challenges, and it makes you more relatable to the everyday folks in your community.

#2 - Harnessing Skills for Marketplace and Ministry

When you're working in the marketplace, you're not just earning a paycheck, you're also gaining experiences and insights that you can bring back to your ministry.

First off, you're continuously learning. Whether you're working in a coffee shop, a tech startup, or teaching in a school, you're always picking up new skills. How to manage a team, resolving conflicts, understanding financials, or even mastering a new technology... all of these skills can be transferred back into your role as a pastor and help you become a more effective ministry leader.

#3 - Opportunities to Share the Gospel

Ever noticed how some of the most meaningful conversations happen outside church walls? Maybe it's during a casual chat at a coffee break or in the midst of a tough day at work. As a co-vocational pastor, the secular workplace becomes your mission field, providing you unique opportunities to share and show the love of Christ that you may not have had otherwise.

Several years ago I was meeting a client for lunch. He was experiencing a difficult time in his marriage and he opened up to me about it. I was able to pray with him right there over our caesar salad and encourage him to turn to God.

It was a moment I will never forget. And it was a wonderful reminder to me of how much opportunity exists in the marketplace.

So, are you also a bi-vocational or co-vocational pastor navigating these unique challenges and opportunities? Hit reply and let me know! Your stories, experiences, and insights can serve as invaluable tools for us all as we shape the future of the church.


Today’s action plan:

  1. Step outside the Bubble: If you're currently in a full-time ministry role, make a conscious effort to connect with people outside your church circle. Remember, your church isn't just a building - it's a part of a larger community.

  2. Learn from the Marketplace: Look for learning opportunities in your secular job or the marketplace. Whether you're picking up skills in team management, conflict resolution, finance, or mastering a new technology, consider how these experiences can enhance your role as a pastor. Challenge yourself to learn one new skill each month and see how it can be applied to your ministry.

  3. Embrace Everyday Evangelism: Remember, witnessing opportunities aren't limited to the church or planned evangelistic events. Embrace everyday evangelism by sharing your faith naturally in conversations, modeling godly character at work, or offering prayer in times of need, just like during a casual lunch with a struggling friend or colleague. Look for at least one opportunity this week where you can share or show the love of Christ outside of a church setting.

📚 What I’m Reading

High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard: This one has been a game-changer for me. It's all about the power of everyday habits in achieving extraordinary results. One quote that stood out:

"Often, the journey to greatness begins the moment our preferences for comfort and certainty are overruled by a greater purpose that requires challenge and contribution."

📖 Scripture

1 Corinthians 9:22 "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." (NIV)

🚀 How I Can Help

That’s all for today!

Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways for us to work together:

  1. Join our Free FB Group: You don't have to go it alone. Tap into the wisdom of our community with over 2700 like-minded individuals navigating the same journey.

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