I’m sitting out on our backyard deck and in the kitchen I can hear the microwave beeping as it finishes heating up someone’s lunch.
I’m reminded of a time maybe 20 years ago. My wonderful wife, Bonnie and I were camping at Grand Bend in the provincial park. (This was BK — Before Kids)
We had a small three person tent. (Because everyone knows a three person tent is just big enough for two. Six person tents are good for four. And really, two person tents are meant for one person — who even thought up this tent sizing conspiracy?! ) We were cooking breakfast over the campfire in our camp-y clothes meaning after a few days they were kind of damp, smokey, lived in, rumpled and thoroughly comfortable. That’s how it is when you’re camping, tenting and enjoying the great outdoors. The only sound was our campfire crackling and the eggs sizzling. I love that!
As we cooked our breakfast over the fire the stillness was broken by the sound of a microwave oven beeping in an RV maybe four or five campsites away. We looked at each other, laughed and kind of shook our heads at the difference of our camping experiences. Not condemning their experience at all. An RV would have been really nice on a cold, rainy, windy night compared to our little tent. But their budget lent itself to an RV while ours lent itself to a three person tent. Either way, it was great to be camping. Just funny/interesting when we saw the contrast.
Diaspora is like that in some ways. Diaspora is our church plant or as we call it our movement of multiplying disciplemaking communities that meet in homes, community spaces or wherever life happens.
We don’t have a building and have no plan for a building. Buildings are not wrong. They are tools for ministry just like camp and retreat centres and I’m glad our co-labourers in Christ have them so we can borrow or rent a space if we need it temporarily. Sometimes it would be great to have a dedicated space of our own — just like it would be great to have an RV versus a tent for camping.
But it is easier/cheaper not to have to maintain, rent or pay the mortgage on a building. And it makes for a different ministry and that difference will work for many people.
We don’t have a large paid staff. I’m the only paid staff person and I’m part time. I’m bivocational which means that I work at other jobs to pay the bills while working with Diaspora. That includes freelance speaking and writing, driving a school bus and working at 5am stocking shelves in a bookstore at times. It’s all good! My wife pastors Diaspora as well and she works at another job for all of her income while also working at Diaspora.
This bivocational thing probably sounds weird to some people. I get it. Why do the pastor thing without getting paid for it? Any pastor will tell you that it’s not an easy gig so why do it for no pay? (And to that old misunderstanding, no, we don’t only work one day a week!) I also know an increasing number of pastors who are bivocational. And it is biblical as we remember the Apostle Paul was a tentmaker professionally.
Think of it this way. We believe, as do all the protestant churches that I know, in the priesthood of all believers. In this concept, all who are part of the Church are priests/ministers/disciples according to the Bible (Hebrews 10:25-25, 1 Peter 2:9) and highlighted in church history by Martin Luther. So if we are all priests and all serving, making disciples and proclaiming Christ then everyone in the church who isn’t paid to be there is a bivocational minister! They all serve and most don’t earn their living doing it. So, it’s not that unusual for us as pastors who lead Diaspora to be bivocational as well.
But I know a lot of pastors/priests who get paid full time and that works too. And both my wife and I were full time paid church staff for many years. We see that God has brought us to this place of being bivocational and leading Diaspora. And it’s a different ministry. Not better, just different.
The Church is very much like a family. There are some wildly different types! But different isn’t bad. I love the streams of Church that we have all around us and the wonderful variety of people God has created. THEY ARE US.
Some of us are camping in tents, some sleep under the stars, some have RVs, some have cottages and others prefer glamping (look it up, it’s a thing now) while others prefer a resort in the woods. But we’re all in this together — wilderness or Church