What does the Bible say about bi-vocational pastors?
Following God's calling into ministry doesn't mean you have to live a life of scarcity and meagerness.
We believe God is a God of abundance who gave you multiple talents to build and serve His Kingdom. By using ALL of your God-given talents, you take better care of yourself and your family, and become a better pastor in the process.
Reasons Why Pastors Don't Explore Creating a Side Income
However, some pastors never explore making money beyond the local church. This may happen for various reasons:
- They’ve never seen a healthy model of someone in ministry who earns income both inside and outside of vocational ministry.
- Some have never been challenged to think in those terms.
- Many were never told in their seminary or ministerial training to consider additional ways of providing for their families.
- Others have likely adopted the mindset – that we believe is incorrect – that a pastor should only make money from being “in ministry.”
Although the question gets asked in various ways, at its core is the dilemma some people believe exists for a pastor to have more than one stream of revenue.
A Look At 1 Corinthians 9
Much of this thinking stems from a verse in 1 Corinthians 9 that contains the phrase, “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (14 NIV).
At first glance, some may interpret this to mean that a pastor should ONLY be paid for their gospel work. But is that really what Paul is communicating in the full context of this passage of Scripture?
The church of Corinth was a difficult bunch of folks. Coming out of a very pagan culture marked by great immorality and abrasive, argumentative attitudes, many of these mindsets spilled over into how they did church.
As the gospel spread and more people became converts to Christianity, the apostles and other church leaders spent more of their time shepherding the flock, doing evangelism, and making disciples. The growth of the church demanded the leaders give time and attention to these things.
Naturally, that meant they could give less of their focus to their normal means of making an income. So instead of fishing, or farming, or making wagons they were spiritual leaders. And this meant they needed to begin receiving substantial and regular income from the church.
In this Corinthians culture, which evidently liked to argue, some people began criticizing the fact that the church’s offerings were going to pay these leaders. The apostle Paul spends much of chapter nine illustrating and explaining his response to these criticisms.
Drawing from Old Testament law, he reminds them that an ox treading out grain should be allowed to eat some of the harvest. Soldiers receive monetary reward for their service. Farmers get to eat a portion of their crop. And likewise, church leaders, who give more than just a volunteer offering of their time, should be supported financially by those to whom they minister.
It's just one of the simple facts of life.
What Does This Mean For Pastors Who Want To Create a Side Income?
However some people have taken that idea – and verse nine – legalistically, as if God were saying that a pastor is limited to only making money through the church. But in reality, that is not at all what the text says.
Paul is simply saying that if someone is making their living from the gospel, it’s ok to pay them and in fact you should pay them.
On the flip side, there are even some people – in Paul’s day and ours – who leverage the gospel and the ministry for their own benefit to earn an exorbitant amount of money. Some people manipulate others and use the gospel as a tool for their own benefit.
We believe it is much more honorable for a pastor to go out and find a way to make some money from his or her own “honest work” than to try to use the ministry to get rich. That honest work may be in a multitude of forms, based on a person’s gifts, abilities, and aptitudes.
Using Your God-Given Abilities In the Marketplace
God designed us with our own unique wiring to do good work and bless others. That may be in building cabinets, fixing roofs, designing websites, coaching individuals, selling real estate, or thousands of other avenues. Those abilities are ways the Creator gave to us to provide for ourselves and our families.
For more on this, grab this course, How To Transfer Your Pastoral Skills To the Marketplace. Only $7 for a limited time, in this video and workbook, Jon Sanders will walk you through the process of identifying your skills and how to transfer them into additional streams of income.
Don’t be limited by the mindset that says you can only make money from one stream. Remember, the Lord owns every stream in the entire world!
Click here to listen to our podcast on this, Does the Bible Prohibit a Pastor's Side Hustle?
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