Welcome to the conversation

This book is dedicated to my Fellow Ministers in Saint John’s, Newtonville, Massachusetts

οὐ παύομαι εὐχαριστῶν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν,
μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου

—Ephesians 1:16

Welcome to Bivocational: Returning to the Roots of Ministry. This website is an extension of the book I wrote by the same title, and published by Church Publishing in 2018. (You can see more about the book at this link.)

The book is intended for two audiences:

  • Ordained pastors who are considering taking on a pastorate in which they would simultaneously pursue a job in the world outside of church; and
  • Congregations that are facing a need to restructure their finances, and are considering a shift away from the “Standard Model” of a full-time, benefitted ordained pastor to a different model for how ordained ministry is offered within their community.

The contention of the book is simple: A bivocational ministry is not simply a question of whether the ordained minister has a job in the world alongside a job in the church. When it’s realized fully and most joyfully, bivocational ministry is a work of the entire congregation. It changes the way the pastor functions in the congregation; but it also changes the way everyone (not just the pastor) in the congregation functions as part of an intentional Christian community.

The idea of this website may strike you as strange, but bear with me for a minute. Through the kind permission of the publisher, you’ll find on this website the entire contents of the book, which you can read for no cost, on a chapter-by-chapter basis. I’m doing this for two reasons. First, I didn’t write the book to make money; I wrote it to start a conversation about new ideas that might shape how we think about the structure and function of ordained ministry in the capital-c Church. Second, it happens to be the case that my work in the world is in publishing, and I’m also aware that there is plenty of data to suggest that making texts available on an open access basis—the sort of thing you’re reading right now—doesn’t mean you’ll sell fewer books. So this is not entirely altruistic!

In the menu bar at the top, you’ll see the individual chapters of the book listed under the “Read” menu item. Each chapter is a separate web page. You’ll find the text of the entire chapter, as well as (eventually) a downloadable audio of the chapter being read.

This website is built in WordPress, an open-source platform; but you’ll notice that it’s not possible to comment on any of the chapters at the bottom of the page. Instead, I encourage you to click on this link, which will introduce you to hypothes.is, a browser-based annotation platform for materials on the web. You’ll have to create an account (which is free), but if you do, you can use your account to join a community of commenters and annotators on any page across the web—really, any page that has has a unique URL. Like WordPress, hypothes.is is built on an open-source architecture; and a growing number of scholarly publishers are using it to encourage and facilitate conversations on the work they publish.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy the book, I hope you find it helpful, and I give thanks for the dedicated and joyful work of all ministers, ordained and lay, in bivocational communities.

—Mark Edington

Hardwick, Massachusetts

The Feast of the Holy Name, 2018