Archive for the ‘Bi-Vocational Ministry’ Category

Next Tuesday, June 1, I will officially complete my brief, 2-year stint as a science teacher at Fontainebleau Junior High School. My original goal when I enrolled at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, was to become a high school speech or civics teacher. However, the Lord took me on a path that did eventually land me in a classroom. I never expected to teach so far away from my hometown, nor did I anticipate that my first teaching position would come 37 years after I had graduated from college! In the meantime, I have served as the pastor of four churches, including more than 23 years at my last pastorate.

My science classroom at Fontainebleau Junior High

I began substitute teaching at eight different schools not long after I left Mandeville’s First Baptist. It made sense, having a teaching degree and having been associated with one of the high schools in town as the sports announcer. In addition, I had formed good relationships with each of the high school principals in town.

Before long, I found myself getting calls to substitute regularly. I accepted a long-term sub position in the final quarter of the 2018-2019 school year, filling in for a junior high teacher who had taken an early retirement. This assignment included teaching seventh and eighth grade science (hardly my preference). By this time, I had begun taking steps to prepare for a teaching position at a junior high or high school, hoping to land a job in either my first or second teaching fields.

However after the job fair interviews, the only offer I received came from the principal at the junior high where I had taken the long-term sub position. Although I had not realized it, the Lord had already placed me where He wanted me to be. So I accepted the position to continue teaching junior high science. At least I knew what to expect the next fall!

I have enjoyed the challenge of teaching junior high students. It’s an interesting time of life. I’ve also enjoyed teaching science, and I hope that my students have increased their understanding and appreciation for science. I know that I have! And I’m going to miss being with them and having the opportunity to influence them.

The transition from teaching junior high science comes at a time when God has made it clear that Gayla and I should plant a new congregation in Abita Springs called SweetWater Church. This became clearer to us as we served at Ebenezer Baptist Church of Hammond for about 2 1/2 years. We learned additional lessons that have shaped us for this ministry.

We began meeting with a core group in our home in January and sensed that the timing for starting this new church was nearing. Grand Opening for the new church has been set for September 12, 2021. This would mean that I would step away from teaching at Fontainebleau Junior High so that I could dedicate more time to the new church.

I’m grateful to the Lord for the time I have had with the administration, faculty, and students at the junior high, because I know that this was all a part of the journey God planned for me. Hopefully, the interactions we have had the past couple of years will pay dividends and result in a harvest for the Kingdom.

For the past year, I have been serving as a Transitional Pastor. While Gayla and I had always juggled a multiple tasks throughout our ministry together — going to seminary (two degrees!) while serving as a full-time pastor, serving on community and Bi-vodenominational boards and committees, coaching our kids in the local recreation leagues, and various other activities — we had never faced the need to work vocationally to have enough income for our personal needs. When I stepped down from my last full-time pastorate, we knew that we would have to “hustle” some extra income.

Now a year-and-a-half after having stepped down from my last pastorate, I’m enjoying pastoral ministry at another level — as a bi-vocational pastor. To be sure, it’s a challenge! My life has hardly slowed down. If anything, I’m busier than ever before.

Finding time to prepare to for all the ongoing services and ministry meetings at church along with working to provide the income necessary for living has been a squeeze. Gayla and I commute about 40 minutes one-way to the church where we serve, so that’s an additional time for which we must account. I worked as a substitute teacher the past year-and-a-half, and this has provided the opportunity to work as a full-time teacher beginning with the new school year in August. Besides the school teaching, our son and I have started a home renovations company that has surprisingly kept us quite busy. So there’s a joy in knowing that the Lord has and will continue to provide for us.

There’s also the joy of serving with a congregation who genuinely wants to make a difference in its community. While they have made some mistakes in the past that has diminished the size of the congregation (what church has not done so?) , they have admitted these failures and have taken steps to move forward with the Lord’s guidance.

The experience of serving as a Transitional Pastor has also helped me understand the challenges that bi-vocational pastors face. Having to work one or two jobs in addition to serving as pastor requires faith, stamina, the ability ability to manage time well, and a faithful and supportive partner in marriage. I’m blessed to have a wife who not only loves and supports me in our ministry, but Gayla works alongside me in our church and often works alongside me in teacher preparation and in our small business. What a blessing she is!