EP 228 – Surveying Bi-vocational Ministry
Pastor Matt MacNaughton returns to the bootcamp for this episode as we survey and explore the landscape of bi-vocational ministry. Here at the Bootcamp we know that if we will listen to the field it will lead us to the future and Matt says that bi-vocational ministry is the future of the church. We would love to listen to you. Take a couple of minutes and fill out this survey: https://su.vc/bivosurvey
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the boot camp, back at it again. Matt, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. I’m super excited to have Matt McNaughton back on the boot camp with us. He’s been on here before.
Matt MacNaughton: Yes, uh, it’s been a while since I’ve been on the podcast. I can’t remember. When, but it’s good to be back on since the last time I was on here.
JimBo Stewart: was more than a year ago, and you came on to talk about
Matt MacNaughton: I would have put it at like four months
JimBo Stewart: No, it was like more than
Matt MacNaughton: so I was way off.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, you, you were on to talk about, Things that a church planter can learn. I think we, are all right. So I think we recorded it while we were in Colorado.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: so not this summer, but the previous summer. So, it would have been July of 2020.
that we recorded that.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah, I’ve already, just moved those memories out of my brain CPU so I can make more room for whatever is coming [00:01:00] up.
JimBo Stewart: Well, I’m going to need you to hold on tighter to those memories because as my wife often reminds me, that is three years in a row that you and I have spent my wedding anniversary together in, on a trip in Colorado, sharing a hotel room.
Matt MacNaughton: and it’s just a great time I’m overjoyed that I get to. Take her place for that trip.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Well, not this year, just three years running this next one. You got booted. It’s our 20th wedding anniversary. And so we will be, doing something together, but, man, I’m
excited. I’m excited to have you back on the podcast for our listeners. Matt is still a church planter or an established church pastor at this point, which is something we discussed last time.
But you have a new role. You’ve been bi vocational in a lot of different aspects, but a lot of that has been freelancing, kind of graphic design stuff. So now you have an official, like, other job that you clock in for. So talk to us a little bit about your new [00:02:00] role.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah, so I serve as Mark Clifton’s assistant, which means I do whatever Mark needs
JimBo Stewart: Yes.
Matt MacNaughton: and that’s just a Legit summary of the role. I think it is it scheduling calls? Answering random thoughts that Mark has, that’s my role. So
JimBo Stewart: but primarily, primarily, at least on paper, primarily you are arranging his travel, scheduling his appointments, and those sorts of things.
Matt MacNaughton: yeah, yeah. My whole, the whole role is making sure Mark gets to where he needs to be when he needs to be there so he can serve the churches and associations and states.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, and I, I love that you’re doing that, and I love the way you approach it. we have, Also added kind of a exploratory, role to what you do on the replant team. You’re not a replanter, so we can’t give you, we can’t give you a replant assignments, [00:03:00] but, uh, one of the things that Mark Clifton has had a desire and a dream for the replant team to start pursuing is how can our team serve.
Create Reese’s, create resources for bi-vocational pastors. and so you expressed a desire to be a part of that process. Colin Pugh expressed a desire to be a part of that process. and so tell us a little more about, not let’s get into the details of that in a minute. Tell us a little about your bi-vocational journey, the way you view bi-vocational ministry.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah. So when we planted Grace Life, the whole, my whole posture was, this is going to be a full time gig.
I will be full time focus from a, from a work energy standpoint
JimBo Stewart: hmm.
Matt MacNaughton: with all my responsibilities as the pastor of Grace Life Church. Well, when you’re planting a church, the funding quickly runs out and you’re [00:04:00] discipling new believers.
and you’re doing all of this, the giving doesn’t come in as quickly as you
think. So right away, within a couple of a year or two, I realized, man, what I would say to people who would ask, I’m a full time pastor with part time pay is the best way I could put it.
So a couple of years in, I started doing
some. Graphic design projects on the side and with a local, sign business here in town and. Just picked up little projects there and then kind of built a, kind of a side hustle side gig to help pay for little extra things as our church grew. And, we just kind of grew into that, but I kept doing these bivocational things, fast forward to 2020, 2020, 2020, 2020, it was such a big year, [00:05:00] such a difficult year.
It got multiple twenties. So fast forward to 2020. My law, my wife lost her job and, right away it was, we didn’t have enough money to pay the bills. And, so I had to step out a little bit more to do some side projects, did some big graphic design projects. And I’m like, Hey, this bivocational thing works.
And then over the last really 18 months, two years, there was a need to have something more, more coming in. So yeah, this is where I started just pursuing different avenues. This position with the replant team opened up and on top of just. Helping do some websites and designs and for brochures and all sorts of things.
So the Bivo aspect for me, as always, for the most part has been side hustle focused [00:06:00] now, something a little bit more, more, concurrent, more consistent. That’s the word I’m looking for.
JimBo Stewart: Yes, in a sense, rather than when you’re doing a side hustle freelancing, the amount of money you make is directly proportionate to the amount of projects you take on. So this is a you know, consistent paychecks every, you know, every time you get the paycheck, same amount and, response, you know, weekly responsibilities instead of project based in, we’re excited to have you as a part of the replant team.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, and it’s been really good. Cause you, those. Those projects still come in. I’m wrapping up a big project, a big brochure. Next month that looks different. Could just be like one little thing. So this, aspect gives more, just more a solid founding for, grounding for my family as well.
JimBo Stewart: So one of the things I’ve heard often in this conversation is there, there seems to be some attempt to create some terms to distinguish between [00:07:00] bivocational and. co vocational and, and even, I’ve seen some efforts to move away from the idea of saying full time ministry, because like you said, ministry is pretty much always. I mean, there’s, there’s really not a, a scenario very often where you’re actually part time in the, in the role you often, you’re going to be part time in the funding, but, so talk to us just about some of those terms, defining terms, the way that people think about those full time, bivo, covo, uh, and explain the differences.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah. So a lot of times it just depends on who you ask. There’s a, as I’ve been thinking a lot about by vocational ministry, co vocational, there’s, uh, I read somewhere it was a missional vocational. I’m not sure if that’s a new term or something, just some guy wanted to be different, but there, there’s not a one size
JimBo Stewart: Had to have been a church planter because church planters always want to have
Matt MacNaughton: It was for sure a church planner. Yeah, for sure. A church planner. So you have. [00:08:00] You have a bivo aspect where they’re, they have the role as a pastor and then they have something on the side. They’re making money. Then you have co vocational. And again, depending on who you ask and how it’s responded, it’s someone who has committed to the workplace and is also pastoring.
So someone may have, like I have a friend who works for the post office. The pastor’s got a solid job there. So he’s putting in a lot of energy, most of his work energy into that vocation while his, his pastorate position is. It’s it’s kind of reversed in a sense. and then you have people that are working in the vocational position for the sole purpose of meeting people to share the gospel, which every vocational aspect is a missional opportunity wherever you are But they’ve Lord’s placed them in a specific place.
[00:09:00] They’ve used that to reach people with the gospel,
JimBo Stewart: It seems like the need for bi vocational, co vocational, missional vocational, whatever you decide to call it, is increasing. need, just based off of the economy, attendance trends, giving trends, inflation, you start to bring all of those factors into place. You know, a full time salary to sustain a family has to be a lot higher than it was 15, 20 years ago, even even 10 years ago.
I mean, the salary you would require to provide for your family, you know, cost of living adjustments. are so much more than they used to be. What, what’s the landscape, just real quick, of like, how many, you know, I know we don’t know exact numbers, but from what you have started to research, kind of what are you seeing as the landscape of, of what percentage of pastors are getting funding in some other way than just the church?
Matt MacNaughton: So I’m not I’m not sure on a [00:10:00] specific percentage of numbers But it feels like just from the conversations I’ve started having and the, the little research I’ve, I’ve done on this as we’re just listening and, gathering information that that percentage is a lot higher than we think it is. Even when you, even when I talk to full time legacy church pastors of solid established healthy churches. Who are also doing something on the side just to bring in a little extra for preparing for their kids to go to college, purchasing a new car, taking a vacation trip, you know, just saying, Hey, an extra thousand dollars somewhere else really. does go, does make the difference. We’re paying off loans or whatever the case is.
So it’s not a, it’s not a just church planters that are dealing with this or, but rural aspects. It’s, a wide landscape of men who are [00:11:00] called to pastor their churches faithfully, but are also called to care and provide for their families. And at times it’s, it’s a, okay, I don’t, I’m not going to abandon this call.
I’m not going to abandon my family. So I’ve got to do what is necessary to make sure that the church is cared for and my family’s cared for without falling off the rails and. My whole life collapsing. So it’s interesting to just see and hear of guys who are planting churches that are, working in cells or, building websites or teaching, and then you hear of legacy church pastors that are just doing something small on the side to help prepare for something they’re thinking of.
and I, and I’ve, the language that I’ve shared with you that I’ve, I’ve kind of workshopped with a couple of people and is The future of the church belongs to the bivocational pastor. And I don’t, I don’t know if that’s the full way we’ll end up [00:12:00] saying it, but it, there’s bivocational guys, guys who are pastoring their churches that need additional funding and. It’s in a lot more churches than we realized. And that’s not even including staff guys, the staff team. I mean, we’re talking full time pastors and normal to size churches who, we’re doing everything they can to provide for their families and faithfully shepherd those churches.
JimBo Stewart: I mean, the prospect of getting a ministry position that will provide all the funding you need to take care of your family is very few and far between. And, and it’s not always because the church is. you know, just not wanting to provide. It’s just, they just haven’t reached that capacity. It’s hard, hard to keep up with all the things going on.
Talk to us about, so what are some of the, as you’ve just [00:13:00] begun this process of listening to the field and kind of learning, what are some of the common struggles that you’re hearing? What are some of the common benefits? What are the themes that are coming across in the conversations that you’re having as you’re surveying the field of bivocational or however we want to word, whatever it is that guys are getting funding from outside of the church.
What are some of the things that you’re discovering?
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah. So the, the thinking with that, Hey, there’s not a, there’s not a one size. Fits all solution also means there’s almost every pastor has a unique perspective. Some churches are like our church fully is on board with me doing what is necessary to provide for my family. Some churches don’t have that leeway.
There’s a, a whole list of. Responsibilities. And then there’s the end line that says, and whatever else is necessary to accomplish the mission of God here at this church, which is an endless amount of work and responsibility. [00:14:00] So you have.
JimBo Stewart: I, I’m even aware of a guy on a staff level at a large church that, it was just not enough funds for him. And so, he was told that he was not allowed to go get other income. And so he, kind of sneakily started doing Uber on the weekends and would just do it in a different community than where his church was.
That they wouldn’t know it because I mean, at some point you just have to figure out how to, how to provide. I mean, and obviously you be as frugal as you can be and you cut and you, you know, all those things. But at some point there, there may just need to be more income. What,
Matt MacNaughton: right. Cause you can be very frugal and you still not bringing in enough money to pay for just the cost of living for it to provide and you’re, as you’re, if you’ve got kids, they get older and the older they get, the more expenses they seem to accrue and it’s. Yeah, so you have to do what’s necessary. But at the same time we want to [00:15:00] like I want to see young men Thrive in pastoral ministry and thrive in their families and not give an option of you got to pick one because maybe there’s a reason why there’s a shortage of Pastors that they just young men are looking at and just like all right I got to pick whether I can provide for my family or serve the church I mean, I think they’re rightfully picking their family to do what’s necessary now.
Can they still serve the church? Yeah, I mean We’re, so we’re talking about a pastoral perspective. So the struggles are time and you can’t add more time, flexibility of how to, how do I still faithfully shepherd? Cause pastoral ministry does not live in a nine to five box. my, pastors understand this.
it’s as if you get a funeral in the busiest week of the year. I don’t know how that works or some major pastoral crisis. And there’s, and you’re like, all right, I have to stop everything else I’m doing to care for here. [00:16:00] So the, the flexibility aspect of it, the, the family dynamic, because if they’re not able to, delegate responsibilities, whether it’s, they don’t have the people to do those responsibilities or the church does not give them the freedom, and they’re having to, to work to put the energy into the church, then to work outside of the church means less family time. And so they’re navigating that and then there’s, but you also have the, the stress of all that too. So it’s, those are the broad ideas that I’m hearing, the broad themes. But then you, when you talk to a person individually, you hear the frustrations of, just not being able to develop leaders or, um, the church is not in a healthy position, whatever the case is.
JimBo Stewart: of the, the, the benefits? Are there advantages to doing this approach to ministry?
Matt MacNaughton: Huge advantages. I think if we looked at the advantages of it, we will see that it’s actually probably [00:17:00] better for the health of our church. That our attention can’t be given fully to the church that we have to, to, rely on other pastors, deacons, and this good design that God has given us from his word. So for example, for me, after I came to realize realization that I’m not.
Less of a pastor because I’m bivocational, that I’m not, my worth is not in being a full time pastor. Once I, the Holy Spirit just kind of worked me through on that topic, I realized in order for me to have sustainability in my ministry. Not success. Sustainability. There are some things that have to change.
I have to manage my time better. I have to raise up Healthy men who love the Lord, who love their families, and love the church. I have to be willing to hand over responsibilities some of which aren’t [00:18:00] necessary like There are some things that over the last year that I’ve delegated that are easier for me to do. But, as our church has grown, and our church has grown probably more so since I’ve become bivocational than before, which is, I’m like, there’s more people coming in, there’s More pastoral responsibilities. I’m like, I don’t know what the Lord is doing.
JimBo Stewart: Do
Matt MacNaughton: I just find it a little humorous.
JimBo Stewart: think, do you think possibly some of it’s because you’ve made those shifts of
let me develop men. Let me manage my time better. Let me start to share responsibility with others. Like I, I think, see what I always think is, so I grew up playing golf and there are, if you’re wanting to perfect your golf swing, there are certain contraptions that have been invented that force.
Your swing to be in the correct form. You can’t use them on the course, but you, you practice with them. And there are these certain things that you either wear or you swing within [00:19:00] and you can’t swing a wrong swing. And you try to create muscle memory using that by vocational ministry. When you have limited time and resources, it’s kind of like that for pastoral ministry in that it really forces you, you don’t have the option of taking everything on your shoulders.
it forces you to swing correctly. Like now I have to share responsibilities. I have to develop men underneath me. I have to manage my time better. I think those are things that every pastor would be, and their churches would be blessed if they did that. So this kind of forced you into those things that make you a healthier pastor.
And your church, a healthier church.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah, cuz it it’s I started I Went through a list of everything that I did. I defined my role as What is my main responsibility at Grace Life? And I kind of I we kind of just reworked my job description And then said, okay, if it doesn’t fit into [00:20:00] my job description, then I have to train someone, disciple someone to take this on.
So, you know, I really think it’s because of this going more into the bivocational ministry where we’ve. opened up a couple of new volunteer leadership positions at our church to help, navigate the, just the different things that we’re doing. And it’s, it’s been good for our church, good for the men, because it’s not, it’s not built on me.
JimBo Stewart: Mm. Mm
Matt MacNaughton: if I know that, and it, but at the same time, it takes a lot of, work to just. To do it because it’s so it’s so easy. Like I could just do that. for example, so the way our building is, our space is set up. It’s really compact. So our hospitality area is in like the back wall of our sanctuary. So we it’s just kind of this.
Everything is the sanctuary. Everything’s the hospitality area. And we’ve made it work. [00:21:00] So I, after the service, I go to the door, I stand there to, you know, like every other pastor does and just interacts with the people before they leave. Well, we had a newer family come up and this was, two weeks ago.
And they asked me, they, the, something happened with our coffee machine. And they didn’t know how to get, make the coffee. Well, I know how to make the coffee. And I went to tell her how to do it. And I’ve just been really practicing this. This, I’m like, I’m, if I, if someone else can do it, they can do it. So I said, you know what?
Let me, so I grabbed our hospitality coordinator who was six feet away and that built a different connection
and it just involved, it just showed our hospitality coordinator, like a, you play a role, you get to meet here. Like I didn’t have to, I could have told her. How to do this. But if I don’t let those things go, and it, and it’s something that I got still got to interact with that [00:22:00] person, but there’s a lot of things that there are people in our church that are more than gifted to doing, to serving, that it’s, it’s good for their walk with the Lord.
It’s good for their spiritual journey. It’s good for our church to say, look at, look at the people doing what they’re supposed to be doing for the good of the church and for the glory of the Lord, small or big. On the stage, off the stage, behind the scenes, in front of everybody. So that’s been the, I think the best part of it is just watching our church thrive, watching us work through what it’s like to put in new leadership and then getting to help them develop as leaders and, serve our church.
And the more our church grows, the better it is for our church, because eventually it comes to a point I can’t carry anything anyways, even if I was the full time
guy, which I am a full time guy.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, that’s great. I, and I think we’ll definitely have you on more to talk, further about this subject, cause it’s something we want to continue to explore, but, one of the [00:23:00]values of the replant team is that we listen to the field and we don’t want to just do things out of just theory and, our own personal individualized experiences, but we want to listen to the field.
We want to, identify patterns and needs and gaps and resources. so one, that’s the stage that we’re at. in exploring this. We’re listening to the field. We’re not developing a lot of resources right now, as much as we’re just trying to hear from you. And so I know that a lot of our listeners are bivocational.
So one, reach out to us. Let us know what you’ve learned, what you need to learn, what resources you need. One, you can just reach out to us directly on our social media channels or things like that, on our website. But, also, Matt, Is creating and colon are creating a survey that is our whole purpose is we want to hear from you.
just a short survey of like, Hey, what is it that that’s going on out there? We want to get a best, best picture. And as we do move to a, do we create resources? Do we curate some things, point you to some things? There’s maybe a cohort coming in the [00:24:00] future. some things like that. And, we would love to.
To hear from you and learn from you. So if you’ll go to the show notes, you will find a link to a short survey that gives us an opportunity to listen to you and learn from what you’re doing. If you’re learning some great stuff, let us know, and maybe we’ll even have you on the podcast.