Ministry on the Margins at Bristol-Adoration COG

A Bi-vocational Perspective 

God has and continues to bless Adoration Church of God in Bristol, VA. As the senior pastor for nearly 13 years, I am bi-vocational and I know many other pastors of smaller churches are as well. The trends continue to increase in the number of churches that have bi-vocational pastors.
 
Is this to the detriment of the church? Some may say yes, but I don't think that it is. In fact, I see it as a blessing and that these are open doors for the ministry of the church to expand beyond the margins.  
 
What do I mean?  Sometimes we have a mindset of how things are supposed to be based on what we see others doing, the way church was when we grew up, the latest seminar or book we read.  We then try to minister within those lines and we miss what God wants to do specifically through us and the church that we pastor. It's like when young David suited up with Saul's armor. It just doesn’t fit right. Often we do this and we find ourselves becoming frustrated, discouraged, and unsuccessful.
 
God knew David and blessed him in the fields. He gave him skills and talents that would be useful in the kingdom.
 
God knows us too. He has given us skills and talents and places us where we are and around the people we are for His Kingdom work.
 
I see my secular job as an opportunity to spread good news to others outside of the sanctuary and to bless the Kingdom. I see it keeping me aware of the struggles that people are dealing with in life. I get to meet new people of different walks of life. I see it as an opportunity to minister beyond the margins.
 
I also see being a bi-vocational pastor as an opportunity to share ministry with others in the church. In our congregation nearly everyone is involved in some kind of ministry. Those things that sometimes are perceived as the pastor's "job" have no scriptures to support that perception. Through the years, God has blessed our church with leaders and workers who are doing what God has called them to do. Some are pastoral staff that receive a housing allowance monthly, as do I, but no other compensation. Everyone else serves on a volunteer basis. I believe all enjoy what they are doing.
 
We started in the lower 30s in attendance on Sunday mornings when we began pastoring in early 2004, and now we are 85-100 on Sunday mornings. People have been saved, baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, called, and discipled. Ministries have been started and growing. Attendance records have been broken. Financial giving has increased. God has and continues to bless us. Are we perfect? Of course not, but I believe we have a healthy church that is continuing to grow and we believe God for even greater things.
 
Don't be discouraged but be encouraged in what God is doing and going to do through you in your current situation and with the people you serve and the ones He will be adding. See your situation as a blessing and an opportunity for God to do something new through you. He knows where you are and what you have in your possession. It may not be like anyone else, but that's ok, God is not limited by our self-imposed boundaries. He can and will use you and bless through you. He has a plan in mind and it may be different than you or anyone else may be thinking. Just allow Him to use you and your church as He sees fit.
 
At Adoration, we are ministering within and outside the margins. We are trusting God and allowing him to use us in our distinctive callings to share the love of Jesus wherever we go for His glory and for His Kingdom to expand. I am blessed to serve this church and can't wait to see what He does next through us and those He adds in the future. I am believing God for great things for you and your church as well.
 
Todd Asbury
Senior Pastor
Adoration Church