Jump to Navigation

Resources

Sunday's Second Job: Many Rural Clergy Are Bi-Vocational

Nearly half of Tennessee's 3,000 Baptist clergy are working a secular job during the week, according to Saul Gonzalez, correspondent for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a source for cutting-edge reporting at the intersection of religion and society. Though many have secular jobs out of choice, others work another job out of need. "Working as a pastor in these [rural] communities may fill their souls," Gonzalez said, "but it doesn't necessarily fill their wallets."

A main problem with being a bi-vocational pastor, according to pastor Sam Livingston, who works during the week as the head of public utilities for his Tennessee county, is that he often can't be with his congregants in their time of need. In an 8-minute news video prepared for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Livingston says "when people are in the hospital or get sick or have lost a loved one, or get in a car accident ... I just can't be there."

On the other hand, clergy who work 9-to-5 jobs can better relate to the members of their flock who also do so, said Ray Gilder, the bivocational specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and having a bi-vocational pastor means the members of the congregation have to step in to do community work that the pastor does not have time to do, creating "more of a sense of shared church ownership." Gilder anticipates the number of bi-vocational clergy will increase in the years ahead, due to shrinking congregations and the continuation of American economic uncertainty.

For more on issues related to rural church leadership, read our feature article, "Caring for the Rural Church," which links to resources for people considering bi-vocational and rural ministry. For more on the state of church leadership today, read our feature article, "Reflection on the State of Pastoral Leadership," which notes, among other findings, that in congregations of fewer than 100 people, the average salary and housing package is $31,234, which often forces spouses to work, thwarting the traditional co-ministry plans of clergy spouses.

News

News

Faith and Work

Industry leaders, CEOs, and trustees from the Fuller community reflect on evolving opportunities at the intersection of...

Is America a Christian Nation? Should it Be?

“Christianity, or any branch of it, loses its Christian character when its self-proclaimed supporters outnumber and...

Reflective Leadership Grants Offer Christian Leaders "Balcony Time"

"Balcony time" is to reflect on accomplishments, broaden perspectives and discern next steps. Clergy or lay leaders...

Calendar

Mon, Jul 9, 2018 - 09:00 am
Race is a reality that profoundly affects congregational life throughout the United States, and there is a growing desire among...

Popular Tools

ATLA Serials for Alum

The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) is a professional association providing support of theological and religious studies libraries and librarians. ATLA produces a prestigious line of electronic resources to support the scholarly study of religion and theology. Learn more.

Search