Cross vocational ministry is my invented term for what was once called bi-vocational ministry.
I prefer the term cross vocational because the ministry leader has an everyday, normal job and a ministry calling which are constantly crossing over one another. At times, the day job is the primary focus and at other times, the ministry role is primary. The cross vocational minister is constantly attempting to balance the two.
I also like the idea of “cross” vocational in the implication of Jesus Christ, who went to the cross, dying for sin, making a bridge for mankind to “cross” over from death to life.
In recent days, my day job at Campbellsville University has become quite a bit more demanding. After seven years of full-time teaching faculty, I have now taken on a role in academic administration in addition to teaching. Whereas faculty members have flexibility in their weekly teaching schedule, academic administration is more of a 40 hours per week, 8 to 5, kind of job.
What I am now facing is what most cross vocational ministers have faced for years. They work a full-time job, then switch, or cross over, to the ministry in early mornings, evenings and on weekends. The time demands are pressing when it comes to sermon preparation, church leadership, communicating vision, and attempting to perform some level of outreach and pastoral care.
The main lesson I am learning in balancing these demands is that organization and preparation must be way in advance. Time is limited in a full daily schedule, therefore the cross vocational minister must use every free moment to be planning, preparing, and working far in advance.
You never know when your schedule is going to change at the day job. You might be called in for training or need to make a business trip or be given an assignment that must be finished by Friday. In order to meet these demands and the ministry tasks, you have to utilize every tool available to be organized, prepared and focused.
Here are some tips I’ve gathered for organization and preparation in cross vocational ministry.
1. Use your breaks wisely such as Christmas break, spring break, or long holiday weekends. Use these extra days off to plan ahead. I know there are other things on your agenda, but this “free” day might be enough to prepare several sermons or put together a major outreach effort.
2. Be constantly taking notes and jotting down ideas. Use your smart phone or iPad to track thoughts that might come at the gym, on the road, at a lunch break, or even in the shower. Carry a ministry journal with you everywhere working on upcoming sermons or to-do lists for ministry projects. Pack a few blank note cards with you and when you are waiting for a haircut or a doctor’s appointment, write a note to a new member or a family that is struggling.
3. Communicate using web-based tools. Use group emails, group texts, and group document sharing tools to keep everyone in the loop. The more you communicate digitally, the more your team (who is probably cross vocational as well) will be able to do their work without a face to face meeting. Social media and email can also help you connect to the wider church family without being “physically” present for everything.
4. Plan worship services collaboratively using Planning Center Online (planningcenteronline.com). If you are the primary teaching pastor (as I am), use Planning Center Online to let other worship leaders including your worship minister, media team, vocalist, ushers, etc., know what you are planning far in advance. You might not get the opportunity to do a sit-down worship planning meeting, but at least they will know where you are going and what you are expecting weeks (or months) in advance.
I plan on writing more this week about cross vocational ministry and several new implications for this type of ministry in the days to come. From all indicators, cross vocational ministry is going to intensify and grow in the coming decade.