Bivocational Ministry and Missional Vitality

Moral leadership, mission and ministry, congregational vitality, healing congregations, evangelism and discipleship

Moral leadership in ministry requires a commitment to excellence, faithfulness, and integrity. My research and study in the fields of mission, evangelism, advocacy, and leadership point toward these commitments.

As a former post-doctoral fellow with the Foundation for Evangelism, an Affiliate of the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship (2006–2007), I was mentored by Wesley de Souza, now Director of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. I taught mission and evangelism at Candler School of Theology for three years before taking a full-time position in leadership and advocacy at the denominational level of The United Methodist Church.

Teaching

“Bivocational Ministry for Congregations and Pastors” is a six-session curriculum I’m teaching through the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry. Syllabus here.

Bivocational Ministry Research

My newest area of research is bivocational ministry. From September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021, I am project director for “Educating for Thriving Bivocational Ministry,” funded by Lancaster Theological Seminary and a matching grant from the In Trust Center for Theological Schools.

Bivocational ministry is the featured article for the journal Religions, March 2021.

Religions is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal with global reach, indexed by ATLA, Scopus, AHCI, and other major databases.

“Bivocational Ministry as the Congregation’s Curriculum.” Religions 2021, 12 (1), 56. Special Issue Practical Theology & Theological Education — An Overview. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12010056.

PROJECT UPDATE, JANUARY 2021: Nearly 50 researchers, educators, reflective practitioners, and writers from the US, UK, and Canada have expressed interest in participating in this collaboration. The positive response has been overwhelming!

Now, I am seeking funding to support this group as an ongoing, international collaboration. I envision a dedicated website, virtual conferences, and a vartiety of publications. Target audiences include judicatories, local congregations, clergy, and theological educators. All of these constituencies show interest in learning more about bivocational ministry.

If you are a researcher, practitioner, or theological educator interested in bivocational ministry or if you represent a funding organization interested in supporting this effort, contact me by emailing “dws” at this website’s domain.

Healing Congregations

Since the 1970s, North American mainline denominations have monitored and measured the markers of congregational vitality in an effort to halt if not reverse denominational decline. The Vital Congregations Initiative of The United Methodist Church (UMC) serves as an illustration of the metrics of vitality, exposing the limitations of a quantitative approach to evangelism and congregational health. Viewed in the context of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, it becomes clear that congregational vitality requires healing and transformation, not simply church growth. A congregation must recognize its own woundedness as the body of Christ to receive the transformative healing offered by the Great Physician. Only then might this healing congregation offer Good News to a world hurting from corporate and social sin. This article, therefore, offers the idea of healing congregations as a corrective to the metrics of congregational vitality that has taken root within North American mainline Protestantism.

Read more: “Healing Congregations: A Corrective to the Metrics of Congregational Vitality,” Witness: The Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education 34. September 2020.

Deacons offer a distinctive perspective on ministry and mission. As an ordained deacon, I offer a deacon’s eye for compassion and justice to assist congregations wounded through prior incidents of ministerial sexual abuse. This article describes the identity and ministry of the deacon, the congregation as the wounded and wounding Body of Christ, and healing congregations as a vital ministry of the church in mission to a hurting world.

Read more: “A Deacon’s Eye for Healing Congregations,” Currents in Theology and Mission 42:3 (July 2015): 213–19.

Related Publications

“Bivocational Ministry as the Congregation’s Curriculum.” Religions 2021, 12 (1), 56. Special Issue Practical Theology & Theological Education — An Overview. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12010056.

David W. Scott and Darryl W. Stephens, eds. The Practice of Mission in Global Methodism: Emerging Trends from Everywhere to Everywhere. Routledge Methodist Studies Series. New York: Routledge, April 2021.

Healing Congregations: A Corrective to the Metrics of Congregational Vitality,” Witness: The Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education 34. September 2020.

“A Charismatic Learning: Open and Affirming Ministry in a Methodist Congregation,” International Journal of Practical Theology 22:2 (2018): 193–210. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijpt-2017-0014.

A Deacon’s Eye for Healing Congregations,” Currents in Theology and Mission 42:3 (July 2015): 213–19.

See alsoOpen and Affirming Ministryon this website.