Ralph Wright Jr: Changes in Bivocational Ministry

How has bivocational ministry changed since the 1960s? How has ministry changed during this time?

Ralph B. Wright Jr., an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), spends his retirement in Patchogue, New York.

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 3, “Changes in Ministry and Bivocational Ministry Since the 1960s,” Ralph B. Wright Jr. presents personal reflections based on 45 years in bivocational ministries in the United States as well as overseas. He observes a crisis of decline among White, mainline churches within a context of increased secularization in North America and suggests that bivocational pastors, offering a broader set of skills and talents than traditional, univocational pastors, are often well positioned to meet the changing needs of congregations in the twenty-first century. Addressing issues of racism, ethnocentrism, classism, and patriarchy, Wright draws on his own experience to show how bivocationality can provide new opportunities for ministry within the larger community. Bivocational ministry can be an opportunity to revitalize the church in mission to the community at large, particularly majority-White congregations that have lost touch with the changing communities around them. He concludes with a plea for increased collegial and judicatory support for bivocational pastors, especially women in ministry.

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