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Missio-vocational church planting

I don't like the phrase "bi-vocational pastor" because it implies a dichotomy where one compartmentalizes his work world apart from his ministry.  I prefer to use the term "missio-vocational" meaning viewing your work place as your mission field. The International Mission Board uses the phrase "creative access platforms" which are essentially jobs in countries closed to the gospel that allow missionaries to gain access through employment.   

Missio-Vocational Resources 


We are all missionaries, whether we get paid by a church, para-church organization or a profit-driven business. When I talk to prospective church planters, two questions are usually asked early in the conversation:

  1. How will I get paid?
  2. What is the best way to meet people in Orlando?

I like to give the same answer to both questions, "Get a job!"  A job puts you in contact with people 40-60 hours per week. A job is a great conversation starter for men: "Where do you work?" and "What do you do?" are two questions that are extremely relevant in our culture. These are ice-breakers that often lead to deeper conversation. 

A job gives you legitimacy in the community and allows to make a tangible contribution through providing a valuable product or service and by paying taxes. A job gives you an opportunity to be salt and light by allowing non-believers to see Christ in you while you respond to every day challenges in the work place. 

Now, I don't recommend handing out gospel tracts at work or cornering people in the hallway with probing evangelistic questions.  However, if your co-workers see Jesus in you, they may respond positively to your invitation to hang out at the coffee house after work, to come over for dinner or to join you in a community service project where you can engage them in spiritual conversations.  These are employer-honoring, acceptable means of being Christ to the people with whom you work. 

At this point you may be asking, "How am I supposed to hold down a job, start a church and take care of my family all at the same time?"  The latter half of the question is the answer, "all at the same time".  If we don't compartmentalize our lives, we can combine these activities for greater effectiveness.  For example, you can involve your children in local service projects where you have also invited your co-workers to help.  Your children can serve along-side of you and observe your conversation with a lost co-worker. You can be painting a neighbor's house, discipling your children and witnessing to a lost person all at the same time. And, since people tend to remember 70% of what they experience vs 36% of what they hear - you will be more effective than preaching a sermon alone. 

It is also important to remember that many churches in the USA are working from a dysfunctional leadership model that results in fat and lazy Christians and burned-out pastors.  The Bible says that your role is to equip the church members to do the work of the ministry - not to do it for them. Missio-vocational pastors often have a greater opportunity to focus on equipping because the church knows that he does not have the time to do it all himself.  They know that they must step up to the plate and often they will. 

The beauty of this model of ministry is that it results in the body of Christ being strengthened and greater unity among the believers. Speaking of unity, it is central to accomplishing the Great Commission.  Jesus said that the world will believe in Him when they see unity in us. 

Listen to Mark Weible and Tom Cheyney talk about missio-vocational church planting from the NAMB Church Planting Podcast (September 2010)

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Dave Daggett wrote:
Mark,

Great article...keeps the fire burning in my soul that's for sure and encouraging to hear that folks are still hearing the best way to do church planting right there in Central Florida!

Keep it up,
Dave

Mon, October 3, 2011 @ 10:45 PM

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