Only after I began writing this book did I realize how many of the ordained people who have most significantly influenced my faith and my life—both by friendship and example—were themselves bivocational pastors. One of them, my sixth-grade teacher Jerry Smith, is the first person you meet in this book. Others have been teachers (Robert L. Hammett, Peter Gomes, Anne Garrison, Isobel Blyth), social entrepreneurs (John H. Finley IV, Debbie Little, and John Thomas), investment gurus (Robert G. Windsor), scholars and academic leaders (Sarah Drummond, Bryan Hehir), civil servants (Howard Simpson), even elected officials (John Danforth). I have no doubt that because of their examples, the idea of growing into such a life in ministry was made real to me.
The many churches and faith communities I visited in the course of my research, and the ordained ministers who unfailingly gave generously of the one rarest resource in their lives—time—were immensely helpful in helping me think through why some congregations make bivocational expressions of ministry work, while others find it hard to do. They were welcoming, patient, willing to share stories of both success and failure, and glad to know that there might be others places out there like them. There are.
Mark Wastler and Sarah Drummond read earlier drafts of this work and provided helpful and insightful comments on what was good, what wasn’t, and what was missing. What’s good about this work is largely in their debt; what isn’t is down to me. Milton Brasher-Cunningham extensively and carefully edited the first draft of the complete manuscript, and improved it greatly not just through his work but through his questions. Rachel Erdman provided a painstaking copyedit of the final manuscript, and saved me from many errors of both commission and omission.
This book is dedicated to the people of Saint John’s Church in Newtonville, Massachusetts. We have a long history together, and a community that knows you well and yet still loves you is a very great treasure indeed. Saint John’s gave me the gift of a sabbatical in the spring of 2016 to begin the research that led to this book. Well beyond that benefit, however, they have taught me most of what I know about life in Christian community, and especially about the profound significance of the Christian virtue of hospitality. No words of mine could ever sound the depths of my gratitude to that beloved community.