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October-November 2020

Around the Corner


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brown on green, A Regular column about finances


Men at Work

The role of the minister has changed throughout Free Will Baptist history. Many years ago, almost all our pastors worked a secular job and also pastored a church. Today, we call these men bi-vocational pastors. According to recent studies from the Committee on Denominational Research, even today around 35% of our pastors are bi-vocational. While they are sometimes called “part-time pastors,” I prefer to say a pastor who is paid part-time pay. The percentage of these pastors varies by state and regions. Some state promotional men report percentages closer to 50/50 in their states.

What do we know about these guys? They are hardworking men who usually have a full-time secular job and yet devote as much of their free time as they can to the duties required of a pastor. They often pastor small congregations, but some pastor large churches. Sometimes, these men are unable to attend district and state meetings because they would have to take time off from their secular jobs. (Perhaps district and state meetings should consider their schedules when planning their meetings to fit in with a bi-vocational schedule.) Even while pastoring a small congregation they want to feel like they are a part of a much larger work.

Many times, these churches are bypassed by missionaries or church planters who need to raise a lot of money in a fixed amount of time, and therefore concentrate on larger congregations with a full-time pastor. These pastors would like to be aware of what is happening at Welch and other colleges, but again, may not receive promotional visits.

Bi-vocational pastors are underappreciated as a group. The amount of money given to denominational causes from this group as a whole is considerable, but individually, they will rarely show up among the top 50 churches giving to a particular ministry.

You may be wondering: “So how do you, a layman, from a financial field, who never pastored any church know anything about bi-vocational pastors?”

I know, because my dad, Donald Brown (pictured above), was one of these guys for over 35 years. In his case, he regularly attended and participated in district, state, and national meetings. For him, it was important enough to use vacation days. Even though he never pastored a church of more than 50, he wanted to know he and his congregation were a part of what IM was doing in the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Japan, or any other field. He was interested in Home Missions and volunteered his time to build churches. He was also interested in Welch College, and while he didn’t attend, he made it possible for me to graduate, and regularly supported the college financially.

He even helped build the National Office Building where I work today. He instilled in me the knowledge that the work of Free Will Baptists and the Kingdom is much bigger than what we say or do individually.

Therefore, I salute all the bi-vocational pastors and encourage them to continue their important ministry.

He and Mom wanted to make sure the ministries they loved while they were alive continued to be supported after they left this world. So, they tithed on their estate. The amount of money they left in a planned gift continues to provide the same monthly support to missions and Welch College they were giving when they were alive. And, it will continue until Jesus returns.

Thanks, Dad, for what you did for me, our family, and your churches, both for Free Will Baptists and for the Kingdom.

About the Columnist: David Brown is director of Free Will Baptist Foundation. To learn more about the grants program, visit


©2020 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists