Steven C. Van Ostran: Incarnating Christ through Bivocational Ministry

How can the incarnational church enable holistic mission in the community? What are the incarnational beneifts of bivocational ministry?

Steven C. Van Ostran, an ordained Baptist pastor, serves as Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains and previously taught at Ottawa University.

This is one of a series of video posts from the authors of Bivocational and Beyond: Educating for Thriving Multivocational Ministry (forthcoming April 2022). This book is an edited volume for church leaders and those that teach and support them. Contributors include bivocational pastors and other reflective practitioners as well as theological educators and researchers.

In Chapter 9, “Incarnating Christ through Bivocational Ministry,” Steven C. Van Ostran encourages the church to reframe its understanding of bivocational ministry as a positive way of incarnating Christ. First, he offers the “incarnational church,” based on 1 Corinthians 12 and Luke 10, as a model of holistic mission. Then, he presents four benefits of bivocational ministry that might lead churches and pastors to engage in bivocational ministry even when a full-time ministry is possible. The incarnational benefits of bivocational ministry include breaking down the sacred-secular divide, creating community and relationships outside the local congregation, uncovering new opportunities for ministry and mission outside the walls of the church, and reducing the dependencies of the pastor that hinder authentic leadership and prophetic action both in the church and in the community. This chapter draws on Ostran’s experience as a pastor and as an Executive Minister in the American Baptist Churches, as well as experiences of the many bivocational pastors he knows personally.

For resources on bivocational and multivocational ministry, see the book’s webpage.