You've read the five perks of being a bi-vocational minister, and it sounds right. For one reason or another, you've decided that bi-vocational ministry makes sense for you. But not all second jobs are created equal. It's time to turn to the natural follow-up question: "If I'm a bi-vocational pastor, what type of second job should I look for?"
Every person and situation is unique, so there's no objectively "perfect" job to recommend to everyone. Here are six considerations to keep in mind while choosing that second (or third, or seventh?) job.
In addition to his "church duties," one of our elders works as a physical therapist. Every day, he pushes and prods on broken bodies to help them heal (though some joke that he causes more pain). For years, he has used this role as a ministry. He not only discusses physical pain in the recovery process; over multiple appointments, he gets to know his patients. He talks with, encourages, speaks truth to, and at times prays with the many people he serves in his "day job".
Ministry is about people. And just like everyone else in your congregation, ministry can't stop when you walk out the church doors. Throughout the Bible, God's people are relational. The only thing God declared "not good" in the Genesis creation story was the fact that man was alone. Our cities are full of people, so locking ourselves in a cubicle, or staring at a computer screen, or sitting alone at home all day might not be the most beneficial direction for a second job. What jobs are available to you that will enable relationships?
Whether you find work bartending, computing, designing, stock-rooming, barista-ing, or beyond, brokenness hides in every corner of our cities. Over and over, the Bible shows Jesus going "into the darkness": dining with sinners and tax collectors, spending time with lepers and folks who are otherwise socially unacceptable, turning water into wine. Going a step beyond "relational," God uses many bi-vocational jobs as great missional opportunities.
For me, this means teaching at a university, where I meet 50 students each semester and have ongoing relationships with the faculty with whom I teach. Many of the folks in my mission field have a skewed, angry, or negative view of God. The conversations and opportunities to which my job has led have been astounding—largely because I get to talk to those who would never enter a church gathering.
3. Fair Wages
Wisdom throughout Scripture says we should "count the cost" of our endeavors. A "$3.25 per hour, plus tips" job might not be the best route for a bi-vocational minister to take, even if it is relational and missional (though it may be right at times). To provide for our needs, we must check the cost-benefit ratio of our second jobs. Is the income worth the hours it demands, including commuting and prep time? Of course, part of this consideration must be benefits or other non-monetary compensation. More and more workplaces provide insurance, retirement, and more for part-time employees. Among these are REI, Whole Foods, UPS, Lowes, Barnes & Noble, JP Morgan Chase, and some "big-name" clothing stores.
A church planter I know worked as a manager at Starbucks for many years—when he moved to the city where he wanted to plant, he cut his coffee shop hours and position (and thus his pay as well). But as an Assistant Manager who worked more than 20 hours a week, he was able to maintain a salary and benefits that supported his family, alongside the support he raised to start the church.