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Alan Henderson preaches for the Newnan Church of Christ in Georgia.
Inside Story
Photo provided by Alan Henderson

On the menu: bivocational ministry talk

Insights on balancing secular and church work.

NEWNAN, Ga. I do some of my best journalism with a fork in my hand.

Or maybe I just love eating.

For my front-page story on bivocational ministry, I caught up with Alan Henderson at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Alan Henderson rides a shuttle at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Alan Henderson rides a shuttle at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Henderson, who works as a Frontier Airlines flight attendant and preaches for the Newnan Church of Christ, had spent a big portion of the previous 24 hours in the air.

As we drove south on Interstate 85 toward Newnan, I quizzed Henderson about his dual roles in the sky and behind the pulpit. 

Then we kept the conversation going over lunch at Sprayberry’s Bar-B-Q.

Alan Henderson and Bobby Ross Jr. enjoy lunch at Sprayberry's Bar-B-Q in Newnan, Ga.

Alan Henderson and Bobby Ross Jr. enjoy lunch at Sprayberry’s Bar-B-Q in Newnan, Ga.

The popular local eatery features signs urging diners to “Pig Out.” Pictures highlight famous residents, such as country singer Alan Jackson and late humor columnist Lewis Grizzard.

I ordered the fried catfish platter (I highly recommend it) and enjoyed a slice of chocolate cream pie for dessert. But enough about my not-so-healthy diet.

Besides Henderson, about 40 bivocational ministers across the nation offered helpful feedback for my story. 

I can’t mention all of them, but I thought I’d share some of their insights:

“I decided to pursue a business degree instead of a Bible degree. There were numerous factors. …  For one, I am not a fan of the way preachers are sometimes expected to fill the role of a pastor. Churches should be founded upon the work of common, everyday Christians rather than relying on a few professional clergymen.” — Tyler Boyd, banker, deacon of the Olive Branch Church of Christ in Mississippi and frequent fill-in preacher 

The greatest benefit I’ve seen is in the realm of taxes, retirement and other benefits which most churches do not offer their ministers.” Joshua Dement, funeral director and minister for the Pyburn Street Church of Christ in Pocahontas, Ark.

“I think every congregation needs to evaluate … what their vision is to bring the good news to their community. … Sometimes that may require a minister to be fully devoted (in occupation) to just the congregation. Other times it might be even more beneficial to have someone with a skill set that has them currently working a secular job as well. I don’t think there is just one formula for success here.” — Ghavinn Crutcher, mental health clinician and lead minister for the Elk Grove Church of Christ in California

“It is refreshing to pour myself into the Word, seeking ways to creatively and effectively present biblical truths without the collateral concerns of congregation bureaucracy, which often obscures the mission of the church. Working daily in the ‘real world’ also seems to provide a sense of relatedness and connection to the members sometimes missed in the disconnect between preachers and the congregants.” — Bruce Dimick, marriage and family therapist and preacher for the Haven Church of Christ in Kansas

“In my conversations with other members, they appreciate the ‘real-life perspective’ that a vocational minister brings to the pulpit as it adds to the message. Vocational ministers have ‘been there, done that,’ allowing them to have knowledge and experience that many of the young to very-young graduates of preaching schools do not have.” Kevin Tackett, public school teacher and minister/elder of the Woodhaven Church of Christ in Chatsworth, Ga.

“It is rewarding for me to serve as a minister, but the challenges get heavy at times. … It weighs on me when I can’t meet the needs of the flock due to my full-time career. I also know that doing all that I do, my cup is emptied so much quicker than it would be just doing one job, especially being the father of two at home. … I have had to make very concentrated efforts at making sure I take time for rest, balance and just learning to set aside some time to be with my family at home or take a trip and just give myself time to refill my cup.” Landon Lewis, public school choir teacher and drumline director and minister for the Ninnekah Church of Christ in Oklahoma

“The growth of the church does not depend on the minister but on the commitment of the congregation to follow the commands of God. As we go into the world, we are to make disciples, baptizing them. We can’t pay someone else to do that for us.”Don Brooker, business owner and minister for the Cross City Church of Christ in Florida

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Alan Henderson bivocational ministry Georgia Inside Story ministry National Newnan Church of Christ News Opinion part-time preachers

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