Being a “slasher pastor” has its challenges, but bi-vocational ministry has its perks as well. Here they are in no particular order.
Less personal financial dependence on the church: When you have a second source of income you’re less dependent on the income from the church. Our church went through a bit of a rough patch several years ago and had to make across the board cuts, including to staff. I was able to make up for the cuts by increasing my hours in my other line of work. Also, I don’t have to analyze (from a personal perspective) our church’s weekly giving reports.
Less financial burden for the church: The other side of the coin is that bi-vocational ministry reduces the financial burden on the church for employing a pastor. This is especially good for small churches. Our church is somewhat unique in that we have two bi-vocational pastors. We could afford a single full-time pastor but I think the “pastoral team” approach works for us.
Reduces burnout of the pastor(s): This one is counterintuitive, but that’s how it works out in our church. The church as a whole recognizes that the pastor is not the only one called to serve the church. Everyone steps up and performs their role in accordance with the gifts and abilities God has given them. We don’t get 3 AM calls. Those go to other, qualified, gifted people in our congregation. Ironically, the fact that we both have second jobs saves us from burnout because it reduces dependence on us as individuals.
Gives opportunities to empower lay leaders: This is basically the same thing as I’ve stated above. When the pastor can’t do everything – he has to spend more time developing other leaders. This is always a good leadership practice; it’s just more acutely needed in bi-vocational ministry.
Reduces Monday blues: It’s easy to find yourself second guessing Sunday’s sermon on Monday. When you have another job to get to Monday, you don’t have the luxury of wallowing in Sunday’s mistakes, real or made up. You are always pressing on.
One more way to relate to your congregation: I think it helps those in our congregation to know that I also struggle with following Jesus in the workplace.
Cross pollination of ideas: On the surface, it would appear that software engineering and church work have nothing in common, but there’s more overlap than you might think. I regularly use ideas from my secular job to inform my role as pastor (project management, for instance). Vice versa, I use my pastoral skills in my computer programming job (presentation skills, peacemaking, etc.)
Being a pastor at work and a techy at church: Because people at work know I’m a pastor, I get to field “churchy” questions at work. Because people at church know I’m a computer guy, I get to field computer questions at church. I’m not very good at the latter. I probably cannot fix your computer.