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Jul 14, 2010


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Travis Greene

This was a good post. The comparison to artist is an apt one. The number of contexts in which we can expect full-time, paid church staff is growing smaller. I am entering seminary in the fall and do not really expect that I will ever be anything but bivocational. Of course, I am planning to operate outside a denominational structure, so that's part of it.

An even more radical question is what it would look like for every believer to think in terms of vocation. I remain convinced that the clergy/laity distinction is the unexamined assumption the church should most re-think.

Fred Hopson

Tentmaking and the Gospel may still go hand in hand.


You said: "I suspect bi-vocational pastors, as they’re called, must have a deeper sense of vocation than the rest of us."

From the other side of that "tent flap" now... I'm willing to bet you have NO IDEA how poignant that is.

(Then again, maybe you do - knowing what you do and how you do it. There are thousands of our "colleagues" who don't have a clue - that's one of our potentially fatal problems.)

Glen Hallead

Good post. I would follow with the sense that - my position at "First Church" is a calling but the degree to which I compromise my principles in order to stay employed (even and especially to provide for my family) it has become a job.

Michael W. Kruse

Actually, this all quoted from the article. But I wish I had said it! :-)


Some of the Disciples were fishermen, there occupation, they were called by Jesus to catch men instead, their vocation.

Most of us have an occupation, but some a vocation. It is a call from God, not just something you like to spend time on or accomplish.

Some like Paul, his life was what God called him to be and do....Vocation ! I believe ministry is a vocation, but it's sad when some view it as a job.

Travis Greene


I would argue that all of us have a vocation. God calls and gifts every one of his disciples.

Michael W. Kruse

I agree, Travis. I think generally we are called to cultural mandate and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. But we each have more particular vocations. That particular vocation can find its expression in many forms depending on our particular set of skills, experiences, contexts, and leading of the spirit. It is great when our occupation is a rich expression of our vocation but that need not be the case.

Travis Greene

Agreed. I would also add another dimension: we're all gifted to some role in the body of Christ for the good of all the other members. This doesn't have to be something that most people would ever notice, like leadership or teaching.

Michael W. Kruse

Yes. Gifting within the body of Christ. I also didn't emphasize that all this discernment about vocation should happen in the context of the believing community.


Still not sure guys...what do you do with the fact many are called and few are chosen language. Also the gifting issue to be sure is used with a vocation and and even in the beliver there is a difference. Else why would Jesus call his men to become "fishers of men" vice just fishermen.

No question that all we do should bring Gory to God but not all we do is a vocation.

I don't mean to seperate the market place and our spiritual lives so don't get me wrong there. Just that I believe I can support with Scripture the idea of a calling and the idea working at Mcdonalds...

In this case you all have it wrong ...in my opinion only. There is a difference between occupation and vocation in the language and in the definition and how it's used.


Travis how in the world would people not notice gifts like teaching and leadership ? Your comment seem a bit odd to me. Yes God does provide gifts to his people to support the greater Body, the Church. No questions. I would note that as part of a vocation and not occupation as such. But if you disagree thats ok. Words are difficult sometimes and I don't have to be right. I may have this all wrong, probably do...:)

Michael W. Kruse

David, Matthew 22:14 is talking about the call to join the Kingdom of God. Jesus point here is not that only a few a are given a special call. Rather, many are called to join the Kingdom but many refuse entry. This not the sense in which we are talking about call.

There is a call to humanity at creation to exercise dominion over creation and care for it. This is the universal call to all humanity. Sin has corrupted humanity and our answer to that call is flawed. That is part of what Christ has come to redeem but that call has never been revoked and applies to us today.

With Jesus comes the call to redemption, to join the Kingdom, and to seek the redemption others and of creation. At baptism we accept that call. The creation mandate and the redemption mandate are universal calls.

But there are particular calls. We each have specific gifts, proclivities, urges, and experiences that leads to different pursuits of the universal calls. One of those calls is the unique role pastor.

In my presbyterian tradition, we believe that elders are called to leadership while some are called to specialized roles of being a teaching and preaching elder. Pastors are elders with a specialized call.

The word "kleros" in Greek is the word we translate "clergy." It is ALWAYS used in the NT to describe the whole people of God, not a set apart segment from the people of God. I don't subscribe to the idea that there is a specialized group of Christians called to ministry above or from outside the believing community but rather from within the community.

Thus, vocation has many different facets. So I would disagree that a person working at McDonald's is not fulfilling a vocation. If that is where her discernment leads her to be, then she is answering God's call. Ministry ... answer to God's call ... is not determined by WHAT we do, but by WHO we are doing for.


I agree with you on that...It's not what we are doing but who we are doing it for.

I just think there is a difference between the vocation or call and occupation.

Guess we'll just disagree on this. But I sure like your answer and appreciate what you said as it makes a lot of sense. I certanily agree with most of all you articulated.

Just think there is still a difference in the two words and their meaning. For me it's the difference between fishing and fishing for men if you will.

But I agree, and as expressed by Brother Lawreence in The Practice of the Presence of God that whatever we do we do for Gods Glory.

Thank you Michael

Michael W. Kruse

I agree that occupation is not the same as vocation. A vocation can have many expressions and for some of us our occupation ... our employment ... is a direct expression of our vocation. For others, not so much. So the artist who supports himself by driving a cab is pursuing his vocation of art and the cab driving indirectly becomes a means to living out that vocation. But the cab driving itself is something that requires skills and attention that can be done in service to God. In this context, it becomes part of what is required to fulfill the vocation. This is part of what I mean by call being multi-faceted.

Vocation and occupation frequently overlap to some degree but they need not. Occupation can be an expression of our vocation, but an occupation can never be a total expression of our vocation. That's how I see it.

Travis Greene

Sorry, I was unclear. I meant that teaching and leadership are gifts one would notice, but many gifts are not like those. The people who quietly serve through cleaning the building, taking care of children, making copies of the bulletin, welcoming guests, or just generally being an encouragement to others, are exercising their gifts and calling no less than those in spotlight positions.


Travis, I agree with you on that 100%. Not sure I would say they are exercising their specific gifting but certanily serving the cause of Jesus.

Just because someone is serving doesn't really mean thats their specific gift or calling as such. We can all help and serve, at least we should. If something needs doing then we should do it if at all possible.

I agree with you brother. There are those who's gift is helps and administrations...Then those who serve and never get mens attention but then we don't do it for mens approval either..Appreciate the conversation as always.

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