The title of this blog sounds way cooler than the forthcoming content.
The title came to me after reading an article on the characteristics of the so-called “Millennials.” According to the article, Millenials have something called “Slashitude,” that is, they have multiple jobs, side projects, etc. For example, “I’m a Pastor/Programmer/Writer.” I couldn’t relate to much else in the article, but I do love my various side projects. Of course, “side projects” really isn’t a very good term for me because it’s too hard to determine which is the side project and which is the main project.
Right now (as of 2012) I have two main projects – careers – working both as a Pastor and as a software engineer in the Aerospace industry. For many bi-vocational Pastors, being bi-vocational is a way of working as a Pastor and making money. The “secular” work is a “job.” The Pastoral work is a “calling.” The goal for most bi-vocational Pastors is to jettison the “secular” job as quickly as possible.
This is not quite true for me, although the possibility of full time ministry certainly exists. My theological beliefs prevent me from bifurcating “secular” and “religious” work or of elevating the role of Pastor over and against the role of the layperson serving the church with their particular gifts and abilities. Also, I consider my “secular” work as far more than a means to make money, although it certainly does that. It’s also a way for me to hone my personal skills, release my inner engineer, glorify God by being a witness to others, and connect with those in my congregation, especially those in a similar profession.
I have been using the term “bi-vocational” and the blog probably could be more simply called “The Bi-vocational Pastor.” Two things stopped me from naming it that. First, it’s boring. Second, it’s not accurate for what I intend the blog to be about. The term bi-vocational implies “two jobs.” But, I don’t want this blog to be just about my two jobs, but also about all my various side projects – primarily in the realm of writing.
In the Summer of 2012 I partnered with a Seminary colleague to write my first book: Prayers for My City: A Fixed-Hour Prayer Guide for Wyoming. (For non-West-Michiganders, Wyoming is a city in West Michigan – this isn’t a prayer guide for the State of Wyoming). The project was quite modest. Essentially I wrote two introductory chapters and twenty-one Wyoming specific prayers. My work was compiled into a pre-existing format as part of a broader West Michigan “Prayers for My City” series.
Even though the project was modest, it opened a few doors for me. I had long been interested in writing a book. I don’t consider myself a particularly good writer, but I like to do it, and am slowly developing the discipline to get better. This project taught me a few valuable lessons. First, it’s OK to take chances and to put yourself out there. If you think you have a good idea, maybe someone else will think so to. Second, I can do this (write, that is), by God’s grace, and one baby-step at a time. Third, networking and “selling” your idea isn’t really as bad as it sounds. Sure, the first phone interview I had with the press was kind of rough, but things only got easier after that. Fourth, picking up writing as a side project doesn’t have to be time-prohibitive. That is, I don’t have to drop the ball on everything else in order to be a writer, even a published writer.
I have a few goals for this blog:
(1) Journal my life as a “slasher” (read: bi-vocational) Pastor, in the hope that it will provide some help and encouragement to others in a similar situation.
(2) Think through, by writing through, various topics of theology. Writing something out usually helps me clarify big ideas, which helps me as I teach. There will probably be a number of posts about some topic I am teaching through at church. I hope you read and benefit from these posts, but also understand some of these are done as much for my benefit as for the readers. This probably isn’t the best blogger etiquette, but, well, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.
(3) Write through other book ideas. I hope to write more books in the future. I am particularly interested in writing books that will benefit local churches. Since I am currently the Pastor of Spiritual Formation, the early content of the blog will probably focus on that and related content. Ideally I would like to use some of the content from this blog in a future book. I’m interested in your feedback as well.
I appreciate your feedback as I go. Thanks for reading.