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Bivocational Ministries

Ministry at the corner of Main Street and Church Street

Volume 9, Issue 9 September 1, 2012 PublisherDennis Bickers

August: An Exciting Month


Im not sure I can remember a busier month than Ive had during August. It began with a listening session to help a church plan for an interim ministry period as they intentionally prepare for their next pastor. Part of that planning is an awareness their next pastor will probably be bivocational. I had a Church Relations Council Meeting at Campbellsville University that blessed me as I heard the many great things occurring on that campus, and where I also had opportunity to speak with some of my colleagues who are involved in bivocational ministry in their denomination. I taught two class sessions for our Church Leadership Institute here in Indiana. One Sunday I preached at a nearby bivocational church a message intended to help them prepare for new deacons about to begin their ministry in that congregation. I had the privilege of bringing the keynote message at the Southwest Indiana District Church of the Nazarene pastor training on A Key to Church Health: Discipleship. I also brought the closing message to that conference on A Key to Church Growth: Church Hospitality. I assisted a bivocational church with their vision process. Our region staff joined with various other region staffs for a three day meeting discussing various topics vital to our denomination. During that time I presented a workshop on the growth and future of bivocational ministry in our denomination and throughout most Protestant denominations. We had a Saturday gathering of our smaller churches for a ministry we call Awakening where we led them in a discussion on transformation in the smaller church. All of this was in addition to my regular contacts with pastors and churches. September looks to be just as busy as I am preaching this week at one of the bivocational churches I serve and later in the week speaking at a five day revival in another one of our bivocational churches. I dont share this to impress you with how busy I am but to point out the growing awareness and interest there is in bivocational ministry. Denominational leaders are wanting to better understand how they can serve their bivocational pastors. Bivocational churches no longer believe that because they are small God cant have a vision and a purpose for them. They are also taking seriously the importance of developing their leaders. These are exciting times for bivocational churches and those who lead them. I also believe that these will be difficult times for some bivocational churches because they can no longer fly under the radar. As bivocational ministry has grown and become better accepted it has also resulted in higher expectations from people both within and outside the church. I believe many bivocational churches are at or near a crossroads. One path will lead the church to a fresh vision from God and amazing ministry opportunities. The other will lead the church to further decline until it loses its very purpose for existence. The Bible is clear that to whom much is given much is required. God has brought bivocational ministry to a place where it is more appreciated and respected, and now more will be expected of us. We must capture a fresh vision from God and begin to live that out in our ministries. God is calling us to impact our communities like never before. He has caused a spiritual thirst in men, women, and young people that will only be satisfied when they drink at the well of living water, and you and I can point to them where they can find that water. We have the tools; we have the calling; now lets fulfill the purpose God has given us.

Each of these books continue to be popular with bivocational ministers, small church pastors, judicatory leaders, and lay leaders in smaller churches. They may be purchased at leading Christian book stores and online at CBD, amazon.com, and other online Christian retailers. You can also purchase them at discounted prices by contacting me.

The Power of Social Media


During the past few weeks Ive been posting a number of articles on ministry and leadership on Twitter and Facebook. As a result Ive seen the number of people who regularly follow these accounts increase, but I would like to see those numbers climb even more. On Facebook all you have to do is just type in my name and request to be my friend. On Twitter you can follow me at @DennisBickers. Finally, I would like to ask that you also follow me on my blog at http:// bivocationalministry.blogspot.com. During the past few days Ive posted a series on how congregations learn well that I believe will be very helpful to small church leaders. During the month of July the number of followers on each of these sites increased, but I would love to see the numbers of my friends and followers double during the month of September, and you can make that happen. You are also encouraged to join in the dialogue on either FB or my blog. These are designed to encourage discussion, and I believe such discussion would be very helpful for everyone who reads them.

Coaching
As a charter member of the International Christian Coaching Association I believe in the benefits that coaching can provide. Coaching is one of the best ways to help a person who feels stuck in life. I have been privileged to have coached a number of bivocational and fullyfunded ministers, and each of them reported that coaching helped them move forward in their lives and ministries. I must limit the number of people I coach at one time, but if you believe coaching could benefit you, please contact me as soon as possible so we can discuss this further. Right now I can accept 2-3 persons who want to be coached. My fees are much less than most Life Coaches and Executive Coaches charge because I see this as an extension of my ministry. Why not contact me today to see how a small investment can result in greater effectiveness in ministry and a more satisfying personal and family life?

Please Get a Website


A pastor friend of mine recently published a Facebook post about how difficult it is for him to find a church to visit while on vacation. Many of the churches in the area have no website to give him information on the church or even the times of their services. Some larger churches have websites, but the information on them is so outdated he has concerns about the church. If youve read this newsletter for any time at all youve read my own thoughts on this. There is simply no reason for every church to not have a presence on the Internet and not keep it current. Not having a website says your church isnt concerned if guests come to your church or not. Having outdated information on your site sends out other negative messages to those who view it. Will having a website guarantee your church will see first-time guests? No, but it will surely ensure that youll see fewer guests than if you did have one.

Newest Book Sales Doing Well


This past spring my latest book The Healthy Community: Moving Your Church Beyond Tunnel Vision was released, and Im glad to say that sales have been steady. Small church leaders are ready to see their churchs vision get beyond the four walls of their church, and they are finding this book to be a helpful tool. You can order your copy by clicking here.

Book Review
Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, and Philip Nation, Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2012). So many church leaders are looking for five easy steps to anything. If that is what you want for the discipleship program in your church do not buy this book. The authors are very clear that there is no one-size-fits-all plan for transformational discipleship. Different emphases work in different cultures and even with different people. Perhaps the one thing in common is the need for persons to correctly understand their identity in Christ, and this book can help you remind people of their new identity, and from that identity new ways of behaving will begin to flow. One of the things I liked about this book is the way the authors combined the Gospel, their own research into this area, and their experiences into a guidebook that any church leader can use to improve the discipleship ministry in his or her church. Another thing I appreciated was the way they connected discipleship with some of lifes issues. For example, they reference Pauls writings to the Ephesians regarding how husbands were to love their wives as Christ loves the church. The authors speculate that the Ephesians may have expected Paul to give them marital advice (as many of us would have if a couple came to us with marital problems), but instead Paul reminded them of the Gospel and how it impacts all of life. This tells us that the Gospel will permeate every aspect of one who has been transformed into a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is a good book for church leaders to read and study together. This could be used for a benchmark for churches to compare their own discipleship ministries to and see what adjustments needs to be made.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. If you found it helpful, please forward it to others interested in bivocational ministry and encourage them to have their names added to the mailing list. Also, be sure to check out our website, www.bivocationalministries.com, for some more resources for bivocational ministers. I would be very interested in hearing your comments and suggestions for future issues of the newsletter. I would also appreciate your input into other resources you would like to have that would improve your ministry. Please feel free to contact me with your suggestions. Until next time, may God continue to bless your ministry and your family. To remove your name from our mailing list, please click here. Questions or comments? E-mail us at dbickers@roadrunner.com

2013 Conferences
It is time to think about possible workshops for 2013. I already have several scheduled for various denominational groups, but I still have room for more on my schedule. Listed below are the workshops I currently offer. If you believe one or more of them might benefit your church, judicatory, or denomination, please contact me to begin discussing dates. The workshops I present are Bivocational Ministry for the 21st Century The Healthy Small Church Transforming the Small Church Easing the Stresses of Ministry Church Hospitality: A Key to Reaching Your Community Coaching for Bivocational Ministers Contact me today to schedule a workshop this fall or in 2013 for your church leaders. I can only do a few workshops each year, so the earlier you contact me the more likely it is that we can find a date that will work for both of us.

Earlier this year I conducted a survey of bivocational ministers serving in the American Baptist Churches USA. The results of that survey can be found at www.ministerscouncil.com. Scroll down to near the bottom of their page until you find Bivocational Ministry Survey Report.

Book Review
Robert N. Nash, Jr. An 8-Track Church in a CD World. Macon: Smith & Helwys, 1997. A book with a name like this must be a good read, and it is. Nash challenges church leaders to realize that we minister in a different world, a postmodern world, in which people have different expectations and needs. However, merely understanding the postmodern society is not enough. The author encourages churches to take the risks necessary to meet those needs, and he makes the point that we really have no choice but to take risks if we hope to be faithful to our calling to impact the culture in which we minister. Some of the things Nash says todays church must do to successfully minister in todays culture are: Find its niche Localize its identity Let leadership trickle up Empower its members These are all good things for a bivocational church to hear. I highly recommend this book.