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Co-Vocationalism

Throughout my years in ministry, I’ve often been asked the question: “What do you do all day?” In theory, it’s a valid question because most of what people experience around the church happens on Sundays and/or Wednesdays. So, what happens the rest of the week? Ironically, when I was only working at a church, I spent a lot of time trying to get out of the office to engage the city.

In the last several years, there seems to have been an intentional shift in vocational ministry. The shift that seems to be evident in certain circles is that of co-vocationalism. Before we go any further, let's define a couple of terms. Ministry is the gospel work that happens in and through the local church, which is made up of Christ followers. There have commonly been four types of ministry workers: vocational, bi-vocational, co-vocational, and volunteer. Vocational ministers receive compensation for their ministry work. Volunteer ministers received no compensation. These two types are the most common types of ministry workers. Bi-vocational and co-vocational are very similar, but for our purposes, we will separate them in this way: bi-vo is necessary and co-vo is by choice.

The trend towards co-vo should not be a surprise if we understand it as a choice. Acts 18:1-4 documents the Apostle Paul’s time in Corinth and identifies him as a tentmaker. In this text, we see that Paul had a non-ministry job and a ministry job (Apostle). His tentmaking afforded him the opportunities to work and associate with others who he might not otherwise interact with.

As our culture continues to change, I believe that we’ll see a greater migration towards co-vo. Consider our reality at Restoration Church. We have four staff members who all have jobs outside of the church. Missional engagement is the goal of co-vo. Whether you are working in an office, factory, warehouse, school, etc., the goal is to engage people with the gospel. I believe this will become more prevalent as our culture progresses, and the presence of believers engaging in the workplace is a missional win.

Let me challenge you with this: if you’re in the workplace, consider that as ministry; if you’re in ministry, consider a job outside of the church. I do not think we should consider these as exclusive from each other, but as hand in hand for the advancement of the gospel!

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