Kris Bentley: Pitching Our Tent with Bivocational Ministry

It’s not all the same story. Diverse narratives reveal the varied experiences of congregations and ministers in bivocational ministry.

This is one of a series of posts about 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.

Kristen Plinke Bentley, an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is director of the Thriving in Ministry program at Lexington Theological Seminary. In Chapter 7, “Pitching Our Tent with Bivocational Ministry,” Bentley compares Paul’s model of self-supporting ministry with narratives of bivocational ministry today. Based on surveys and interviews with Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministers serving congregations in Kentucky, Bentley observed three primary narratives about bivocational ministry. Some leaders pointed to economic challenges for congregations, seeing the model as “a sign of the times.” Others perceived the missional potential of bivocational ministry, describing it as “on the cutting edge.” Others, particularly those in African American and Hispanic/Latinx contexts as well as those in rural communities, saw bivocational ministry as “the way we’ve always done ministry.” These narratives reveal the varied experiences for congregations and ministers related to bivocational ministry. They also demonstrate that some congregations have long-term experience with bivocational pastors that could help others build capacity for well-being and thriving in ministry.

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