Tony Pappas: The Bivocational Congregation

What qualities do successful bivocational congregations share?

Anthony Pappas, a retired Baptist pastor, is a church consultant, writer, and editor and formerly served as the Executive Minister of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts.

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 11, “The Bivocational Congregation,” Anthony Pappas, Ed Pease, and Norm Faramelli address the question: What is the shape of tomorrow’s church? The authors answer this question by offering ethnographic case studies of five very different churches to illustrate certain qualities of bivocational congregations: healthy team functioning; a high commitment to being a ministering presence in a particular place; a willingness to die to self, if need be, in the cause of serving others; an acceptance of bivocationality as a full expression of the church, not a second-rate, temporary, expedient form of the church; and a willingness to experiment and trust that a higher power has something wonderful in store for tomorrow. The authors conclude that a congregation does not necessarily have to have a bivocational pastor to exhibit the positive qualities of a bivocational congregation. More important is the dual calling of the congregation to fresh understandings of mission and function. In an epilogue, Pease offers advice on how to prepare a congregation for bivocational ministry.

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