Pictured above: Kyle McArthur, First Baptist Church Beulah and school bus driver for Escambia County School District
School bus driver. Chaplain. Road construction foreman.
Half of the 40 churches in Santa Rosa Baptist Association are led by bi-vocational pastors, men who serve not only in a pastoral role but also work in a variety of other jobs or ministries, such as school bus driver, chaplain or road construction foreman. For them, being bi-vocational can be both a great blessing and a daunting task.
Jim Stickle, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Milton and hospice chaplain, also serves with the Baptist association to lead and encourage bi-vocational pastors. “Self-care for the pastor is often neglected because there is just not enough time to get it all done. The Florida Baptist Convention and the local association have many resources available to help pastors be the best they can be for the glory of God,” said Stickle.
The pastors agree that working bi-vocationally opens doors that otherwise would not be open to them to reach more people with the good news of the gospel. As a chaplain, Stickle often ministers to people of different faith backgrounds, seeking to provide comfort and build relationships. “Over the years I have been asked questions that opened the door to share the gospel and helped many find salvation through Jesus Christ,” said Stickle. He has been made aware of and responded to needs, such as cleaning up homes neglected due to illness and providing medical equipment.
“I have learned the importance and value of being involved in people’s lives with phone calls, and visits. It means so much for those you serve to know you care.”
Mike Vosbrink, pastor of First Baptist Church Deerpoint Lake in Panama City and regional chaplain for the Florida Department of Corrections, shared, “In my 20 years as chaplain, I have officiated weddings and funerals for numerous staff and their families. Forging relationships has afforded me the opportunity to make much of Jesus in those contexts.”
Vosbrink has seen his work with inmates make a difference as several released inmates have gone on to become productive, contributing members of society. “I’m in a position to do good in both places, yet not entirely reliant on the church for all of my livelihood or benefits.”
Other pastors may not be able to speak as freely of the gospel in their non-pastoral career, but still find ways to shine light into a darkened world.
Kevin Nelson, pastor of Stump Springs Baptist Church in Munson and senior foreman for Santa Rosa Department of Roads and Bridges, feels that his crew knows he will lead them fairly and with a biblical perspective.
“Many employees do not have a church family, so I have had the opportunity to preach at funerals in the deaths of their loved ones and have shared Jesus not just to the employee but to their families. I’ve been able to help coworkers restore marriages and come to know Christ as Savior,” he added.
Kyle McArthur, youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Beulah in Pensacola, is a school bus driver for Escambia County School District, allowing him to make multiple connections within the community. Though he cannot share the gospel openly with students on the bus, he has opportunity to give biblical advice to coworkers and students when asked his opinion.
He knows the stress of long hours on the job and being pulled in multiple directions. “There are times when you feel like you aren’t doing enough or you’re not fit for the role. C.S. Lewis once said, ‘Nothing, I suspect, is more astonishing in any man’s life than the discovery that there do exist people very much like himself.’
“To my fellow bi-vocational pastors, you’re not alone. God holds everything together. Trust him, and He will guide you.”