TALLAHASSEE–Recognizing the hard work that bivocational pastors do day in and day out, a Tallahassee church recently set out to encourage and bless 40 such pastors from their city and surrounding areas.
Ronny Raines, senior pastor at Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, said he felt like God gave him the idea for focusing on these pastors.
“The Lord has given me a heart for pastors in general and bivocational pastors specifically,” Raines said. “I just know they work hard. They’ve got jobs and families and obligations and then they’re preparing sermons each week and making pastoral visits. It’s a demanding role for them.”
When Raines shared his idea with his church, members quickly came on board, raising about $8,000 for the project and volunteering to adopt a pastor. The church reached out to the Florida Baptist Convention for names of bivocational pastors serving in three area associations.
Church members participating in the project invited their adopted pastor and his wife to lunch or dinner. During the gathering, each pastor received an envelope containing an encouraging letter from Raines, $100 in restaurant gift cards for dinner dates with his wife, $100 in retail gift cards to help with Christmas expenses and a $10 coffee shop gift card.
“We just felt like if we could come alongside them over Christmas and bless them that would be a great thing for them but also for our church,” Raines said. “Some are still in contact with each other. It wasn’t just a one-time thing. They’ve stayed in contact with each other. It’s been a real blessing for us.”
For Charles Salem, pastor of New Destiny Christian Church in Quincy, the meal and gift cards were an unexpected blessing.
“It was pretty surprising,” he said. “And it was very emotional because my wife and I had not experienced anything like that with someone caring about a small church pastor, especially with us being a church plant.”
Bryan Bair serves as pastor of South Point Church in Tallahassee and also works full-time as a public school teacher. He has worked as both a full-time and bivocational pastor.
“There can be a tendency to think bivocational is less than vocational but the demand is still there,” Bair said.
“It may be a little different in the workload but from a spiritual perspective the weight is still there. In addition, he’s diversified in not only what he’s doing for the church but also for his family and his job, whether it’s full-time or part-time. If they are not guarded and really protected, it’s easy to burn out.”
That’s why this blessing “from out of the blue” was so meaningful to him and his wife.
“This is great encouragement from a church,” Bair said. “They’re saying God has been good to us, let’s recognize that we’re not the only ministry going on in town. Let’s bless some guys that are in the trenches doing a lot of work.”