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3 Ways To Better Serve People in Multivocational Ministry

A growing number of people in Canada are juggling more than their vocation and their personal lives. Research from graduates of the Association of Theological Schools in Canada and the USA suggests that almost one-third of graduates in 2017 anticipated going into bi-vocational ministry.[1]

In fact, growing numbers of people are sensing a call to engage in multiple, often diverse and entrepreneurial, endeavours for the Kingdom. This is not entirely new. Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-4) as well as a preacher-teacher-writer-friend-mentor and entrepreneurial church planter.

Following in his footsteps, others—in what has recently been coined “multi-vocational ministry”—are finding the calling comes with “possibilities for [the] sustainability of congregational ministry and understanding unique opportunities in the intersection of the sacred and the secular.”[2]

It also comes with a cost.

Recent cross-denominational research found that many in multi-vocational ministry in Canada are weary, isolated and under-supported. We can all play a role in changing that.

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How are we responding at Briercrest?

We are listening.

Across Canada, these same weary respondents said colleges and seminaries could help by providing “leadership skill development” and “skills for leading teams [were] considered valuable for multiple contexts.”[3] They also requested advanced education in Entrepreneurial Strategy. The report concluded that an emphasis on leadership development “can apply to multiple areas of work [and] could offer many benefits.”[4]

Participants also indicated the importance of “biblical interpretation, ethics, social analysis, and developing personal self-awareness. The application of these skills, however, would need to consider both ministry and marketplace contexts.”[5]

We are partnering.

The Briercrest Counselling Centre and Paul E. Magnus Centre for Leadership Studies is partnering with The New Leaf Network and the Wellness Project at Wycliffe in the creation of customized resources and opportunities to gather.

Our first online event will be held December 9-11, 2021, titled “The Sacred Side Hustle: Embracing Your Unique Calling.” The event will feature stories from practitioners, the findings of researchers, and an innovative “Listening Panel” opportunity for denominational leaders, academics, and others who are interested in learning how to better support this missional work. We would love it if you could join us Link

1. We Can All Make Space at the Table for Different Approaches to Ministry

As you can imagine, the reality of having not one or two, but three or more vocations, adds complexity to the lives of people in multivocational ministry.

Scheduling can be a nightmare. Perspectives may be shifting. Yet, people on the margins are doing some of the most creative and redemptive work.

How does your church, organization or institution make space for this?

At the Paul E. Magnus Centre for Leadership Studies, we are listening carefully and seeking to provide “just-in-time learning,” creative, and co-creative ways to serve people in entrepreneurial ministry.

2. We Can All Pay More Attention to our Faithful but Frazzled Friends

I Thessalonians 5:12-14 reminds us to “respect those who labor among [us]” and to “esteem them very highly because of their work.” Who do you know that is juggling multiple priorities? What would it look like for you to pour some love and support on them this week?

The research found that some people in multivocational ministry have found ways to integrate the various pieces of their lives. Paul’s tent-making was not just in support of his ministry. It was part of his ministry. The two parts of his life worked in service of the community and the Church.

Integration can be challenging. The diverse pieces of calling can seem more in conflict than in support of each other. Healthy personal lives, Sabbath practices, and family times can be hard to maintain. Burnout and/or quitting are genuine concerns. How can we (as friends and neighbours) step in to make a difference as they figure this out? Don’t forget spouses. They may be struggling even more.

Juggling multiple priorities can also make it harder to maintain wise mentoring relationships—a recipe for disaster. Who in your circle could use a little bit of your time and counsel?

3. We can all Listen and Learn

God does not change. The calling of the Church to be the Church does not change. The way that looks in each generation does. If you are yourself called to multivocational ministry or would like to learn more about how the Spirit is moving among people with this unique calling in Canada, we welcome you to join the conversation.

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Endnotes:

[1] Jo Ann Deasy “Shifting Vocational Identity" in ">Theological Education Insights from the ATS Student Questionnaires, Theological Education 52, no. 1 (2018): 63–78.

[2] James W. Watson et al, Canadian Multivocational Ministry Project Research Report, 2020, p. 22.

[3] Canadian Multivocational Ministry Project Research Report, p. 19.

[4] Canadian Multivocational Ministry Project Research Report, p. 20.

[5] Canadian Multivocational Ministry Project Research Report, p. 20.

Ellen is Coordinator for the Paul E. Magnus Centre for Leadership Studies at Briercrest Seminary and an affiliate of Leader's Village. She is also the author of The Brave Way (2019) and blogs at bravewomen.ca.

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leadership paul e. magnus centre for leadership studies briercrest seminary new leaf network
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