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November 23, 2017

The Art of Juggling: Bivocationalism and Church Ministry

By Daniel Im

Q&A Webinars are a monthly segment designed for Plus Members to hear from leading experts in church planting, multisite, and multiplication. For this month’s segment, Ed and I talk to Hugh Halter, founder of Missio, the US Director of Forge America, and author of various books including, The Tangible Kingdom and BiVO: A Modern-Day Guide for Bi-Vocational Saints. Hugh also contributed to our new course, Bivocational Ministry.

The Art of Juggling: Bivocationalism and Church Ministry

Not too long ago my family and I, while on vacation, attended a show where we saw a juggling performance. I have to admit I wasn’t stoked about seeing a guy juggle some balls or bowling pins in the air—particularly on my vacation. But this particular performer ended up being quite entertaining. At one point I think he was juggle-bouncing at least nine tennis balls. And then to top it all off, he hopped on a unicycle and juggled six or seven flaming pins. Suffice it to say my kids were enamored with his performance, and I left having been entertained and impressed. 

This memory surfaced as Ed and I recently chatted with Hugh Halter about bivocationalism. Bivocationalism, a growing trend among church planters and what Thom Rainer calls “marketplace pastoring,” is balancing the time between vocational ministry and something else. Because it’s such a growing trend in our ministry culture today, people have many questions about it. 

Many of the questions that people asked Hugh revolved around time management and how bivocationalism—as a missiological strategy—could be a model where one thrived rather than merely survived. In other words, people who are either in or interested in bivocationalism want to know how they can successfully juggle all the balls—marriage, family, personal life, preparing for sermons, leadership development, ministry and mission vision casting, planning worship gatherings, and meeting with various people— throughout the week without letting any one of them fall. 

Throughout our conversation, Hugh gave invaluable insight into how people can successfully juggle all the demands of a bivocational schedule.

1. Bivocationalism is a paradigm shift and requires one to alter their perspective for ministry.  

It’s not that bivocational pastors start with a deficit in regard to the hours they have available to devote to vocational ministry—they just start with a limited number of hours. Thus, the paradigm shift must be accompanied with a shift in perspective for how to facilitate ministry. As Hugh points out, under the old paradigm of vocational ministry—with full-time pastors—the church typically saw the pastors as doing the work of the ministry. Under bivocationalism, pastors are, or at least should be, forced to equip their leaders and members to do the work of ministry. If not, they will find themselves burning out or hindering the church from reproducing disciples. According to Hugh, bivocationalism actually led more people at Adullam (one of the previous churches he planted) to own the ministry rather than to sit and consume the ministry.

To read the remainder of the article, and to watch the full video, click here.

This video is part of Plus Membership. To get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • “Bivocationalism, is balancing the time between vocational ministry and something else.” –@hughhalter
  • Bivocationalism is a paradigm shift and requires one to alter their perspective for ministry.
  • Bivocational pastors are forced to equip their leaders & members to do the work of ministry.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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