My wife and I just returned from vacation throughout the British Isles (along with 52 friends from Hawaii). She and I arrived a few days early to teach a seminar with a small but growing group of church planters.
Most of these folks are immigrants from Sri Lanka and several nations from the north of Africa. All are bivocational.
A New Missionary Perspective
They break the American paradigm regarding bivocational pastors. These people are well educated and enjoy success in everything from IT to real estate development. The most obvious thing about them is that they bring the gospel from what many see as “the mission field” to the white heathen of post-Christian Europe. Their churches are NOT monoethnic, but multiracial, reflecting the reality of our world. They are a harbinger of a brighter future for the church in the UK, perhaps in the United States.
Please note that every person seated in the photo above was born in the UK. The majority are standing—they are missionaries from other lands.
Bivocational and Proud of It!
At one point I asked, “How many are bivocational?” Every hand shot up. Then I asked, “How many plan to quit your secular job.” No response! One hundred percent of these people would rather delegate well while receiving a better salary than their brethren who choose to work “full-time” for a church. My observation is that these folks are more than full-time in their service to the kingdom.
These folks operate under the assumption that the secular world should support pastors freeing church funds for mission.
One pastor lamented that a pastor from different group had recently burdened his congregation with a mortgage. The people I met with sees leased and rented property as normal. They operate more like small businesses than the cathedral builders of days ago. Everything seems geared to mission. That mission is the Great Commission. We have much to learn from these people.
One of the few Brits in the group drove us from the retreat center to join our friends for the tour beginning in London
He plants churches while employed by the British government in Whitehall. As he drove, he mentioned that he was misunderstood by his peers as a young pastor. The reason—he chose bivocational ministry as a way of life. Seems that his friends didn’t understand the tremendous capital a bivocational pastor brings to the table. I asked if he ever regretted his decision. He expressed no regrets other than a wish that he was better at delegating and discipling. He wishes he had multiplied churches rather than just plant them.
With the Christian population falling far behind population growth in the U.S. along with the Millennial scream for close relationships we must change away from planting big churches (just 6 percent of American Christians attend a church of 1,000 or more people). We need more small churches. Financial issues weigh upon us. The folks in the UK are making progress in post-Christian Europe. We live in post-Christian America. We could learn from them.
The future is upon us and I believe I just saw what it looks like!
So what do you think?
Sound off in the comments box below…