What Good is Being Bi-Vocational?

By: Ryan Beaty

Three and a half years ago, I planted my church VillageHouston. In the three and a half years we have been a church we have planted four churches in Madagascar, put 120 water filters in to Haiti, are planting a second church in our city this fall, and have given cumulatively over $100,000 to missions. Would you like to know how much salary I have taken in that amount of time? None.

Now I don’t want to mislead you. The church pays for my apartment, which is also the church office. The church also started nine months ago to give me a gas allowance. But I have never received a salary in the entire life of our church. Why is that? Because I don’t have to.

Am I independently wealthy? No. Are my parents millionaires? Not even close. Did I win the Powerball? I’ve never purchased a ticket. I work a second job. I always have. And lately I have started thinking that I might always want to.

Missions is the heartbeat of God and the cornerstone of the church I planted. The very first check I raised in support to start VillageHouston was turned around and sent to a missionary. Every year on our anniversary we do a huge missions offering as a thank you to God for his faithfulness. And here is what I know about missionaries, almost without exception, they cannot work outside of their missions assignment. They travel to churches and raise funds to go and minister to the people God has called them to in the country the Spirit has led them to, and they can’t work another job. Their sending agency in most cases won’t let them. But beyond that, in most situations it is not beneficial for them to do so.

But I can. I can work a job. I can be bi-vocational. It definitely makes for some long days at times. It requires me to be extremely creative with my schedule and very structured with my calendar. I definitely miss some things I would otherwise like to do. But in the long run, I believe the Kingdom of God is advanced in a greater way by ensuring that more missionaries get on the field than by me working full-time at my church.

God has honored that position in my life. I have an amazing second job, working as the chaplain of an Episcopalian day school. I get full-time pay for almost part-time hours. I have full benefits. They understand if I need to go do a denominational or church thing every now and then. And I have summers off!

You may be saying, “Well I could do it too if I had a job like that, Ryan.” I didn’t always work for the school. I started with substitute teaching. Then working in a smoothie shop. Then there were the few weeks as an office admin for an insurance broker. That was followed by the time with the YMCA camp program. In total I had two years of bouncing and instability, and yet in all of that time no bills went unpaid and no meals were missed.

It may not always be comfortable or easy, but if you are a bi-vocational minister, try looking at your situation as a blessing from God. Begin to count all of the ways the Kingdom of God is advancing as a result of your sacrifice. Know God is honored by your sacrifice and in some way or another He always blesses those who honor Him.

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Ryan Beaty is the founding pastor of VillageHouston, an Assemblies of God church located in urban Houston, TX. He is an avid reader, pop-culture nerd, and theology honk. He and his wife, Korista, live in urban Houston where Ryan also serves as the chaplain of an Episcopalian day school.

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