Many people find it surprising that I work another job outside of Compass Point Church. I’m constantly getting emails or phone calls inquiring as to why I’m bi-vocational when there is so much to be done as a church planter. Most people just assume it is because of the financial need or some kind of denominational mandate. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
For those that do not know…I’m a middle school and high school substitute teacher for Polk County, Florida. In fact, I’m typing this from an 8th Grade Language Arts class while the students are watching a movie about the life of Mark Twain. I’m as bored as they are with the movie…that’s why I’m blogging. 🙂
So if it’s not for the money (though the paycheck helps) or other factors…why I am bi-vocational? The reasons…in order of preference…are as follows:
1. I spent ten years on the road full-time as a Christian comedian. After that I spent another 10 years as a staff member/pastor of various established churches. In all that time I never had much contact with disconnected people. I remember a “Friend Day” we had at my last church where we were suppose to bring a friend to Sunday services that didn’t have a church home. I didn’t know anyone that fit that description because I only got to hang out with church leaders and church people. I made a vow then never to let that happen again. With substitute teaching I’m in several different schools each month and I’m constantly meeting new folks (and building relationships with them) that do not go to church. If my week was filled with sermon prep, creative strategy meetings, worship planning meetings, etc. I’d only have contact with…church people. I think the greatest tragedy that has ever happened to the American Church is the thought process that life-change happens because of a sermon or a worship service. Life change occurs because of personal involvement.
2. I am a shepherd. I do not feel that God has called me to conduct classes or “equip” others to go out and reach the disconnected. I feel that God has called me to SHOW folks how to reach the disconnected by actually doing it myself. A shepherd doesn’t stand on some hill yelling out directions to the sheep…he’s out in front showing them where to go. Being bi-vocational allows me to lead like a shepherd.
3. It allows me to be relevant to today…and tomorrow’s…culture. By teaching in middle school and high school I am beginning to see what the church of tomorrow must look like. There is a HUGE difference between the 25-and-below crowd and the 26+ crowd. The differences are not just in personal tastes, but in complete paradigms. Being around teenagers…in their world…allows me the privilege of seeing how those paradigms will look like for future church planting. In essence, I’m not waiting for George Barna to give me “yesterday’s” poll information…I’m seeing what tomorrow’s demographics will look like…today. Besides, what other 41-year-old fat, white guy knows the difference between the musical styles of Young Dro and Young Joc?!?!? J
4. Compass Point aspires to be a “go and do” church and not a “come and see” church. We’re not there yet…but, we’re working toward it. Because of that calling, I don’t want to burden the church by using the majority of the finances on my salary. For that matter…I don’t want to spend a ton on other staff member’s salaries. I’d rather have the money going to a mission outreach in South Africa…or inner-city Lakeland…than into my apartment rental.
5. Finally, substitute teaching allows me the ability to be “off” when I need to. As a church planter this is SO valuable. There are days I need to have meetings…days when the staff needs to have strategy sessions. I can always choose not to go in on days when I need to do Compass Point “business”. Though I must admit…I keep those “business days” to a minimum.
Please keep in mind that what I’ve written here today is what God led me…and Compass Point…to. It doesn’t mean it is right…or needed…in other church situations.