Frank Page Says the Bivocational Church Model Is the Best Way to Make Disciples

Bob Sena (second from right), Hispanic relations consultant to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, leads devotion at the Sept. 12 session of the Bivocational and Small Church Advisory Council meeting in Atlanta. Photo by Diana Chandler
Bob Sena (second from right), Hispanic relations consultant to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, leads devotion at the Sept. 12 session of the Bivocational and Small Church Advisory Council meeting in Atlanta. Photo by Diana Chandler

The bivocational church model is the best way to make disciples in the 21st Century, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page told bivocational and small-membership church pastors he assembled in Atlanta.

“I’m convinced that in the 21st Century, the best stewardship model is bivocational,” Page said at the first meeting of the Bivocational and Small Church Advisory Council Sept. 11 – 12. “We’ve got a lot of students coming out of seminary now who have no intention of being full support.”
Giving small-membership churches and bivocational pastors their proper focus, respect and participation in the SBC is one of his main leadership goals, Page told the 21 pastors he appointed to advise him on meeting this population’s unique needs.

“I will not allow the Southern Baptist Convention to forget who we are,” he said. “Part of my goal in this is to elevate the role of the small-church pastor and the bivocational pastor, period. And that’s going to happen.

“The majority of our boards and agencies are run by small-church trustees. And I assure you that’s true. … You are represented in every level of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Page said, calling the leaders true heroes. “Some would say 35,000 of our 46,000 churches, maybe more than that, are in the two categories of small church or bivocational.

“I appreciate each one of you,” he told the council. “Each of you brings a different perspective to this table, and … I thank God for you.”

Page, who for the past year has used the theme of an earthquake fault line to pinpoint volatile areas of friction within the SBC, identified a fault line based on church membership size, and pledged to address the tension. Page defined small churches as those with 125 or less in Sunday School attendance.

A “methodological” fault line also exists, he said, based on the question of ‘How does one do church in the 21st Century?'”

“That’s probably one of the biggest issues facing us in our convention today. ‘How do you do church?’ When you go plant a church, are you using a more traditional model or a more contemporary model?” Page said. “That’s a big question out there now, and it’s going to be a huge question in the future.

“Because whether you know it or not, bivocational ministry is the wave of the future. People are beginning even to realize that the best way to be a church planter is through a bivocational model,” Page said. “Some of our Christian universities are actually realizing that and training pharmacists how to be a pharmacist and a pastor at the same time…. There is a new receptivity to a model that I think you represent. But how does one do church, that’s going to continue to be a huge issue.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Diana Chandler