Barry McWilliams - Pastoral experience: 1975 - 2005

Including Twenty five Years of"Tent making" (self supported ministry, see below)


Why "bi-vocational ministry?"?

I pursued the call to ministry through college and seminary, but entered into two pastoral situations without adequate experience. Twice "burned", but sensing the call to minister God's Word - I made the decision to support my family in secular employment, while "volunteering" my training and gifts in a congregation that could barely support its pastor. For the last thirty-five years I have supported my family working for Safeway, the national grocery store chain as a checker and grocery clerk. The odd working hours (mostly evenings, nights, weekends gave me time to study, though it limited opportunities for fellowship. This kind of part time self-supporting ministry is not easy and has clear limitations, but is biblical. (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1 Cor 9:15; 1 Th 2:9; 2 Th 3:8). In Jesus' day most Rabbi's worked for their living in various trades. It has given me freedom and opportunity to discover, nurture and develop my unique gifts, and use them faithfully in serving His people. It has also given me many years of valuable pastoral experience. My children have grown up with roots and stability. I would have liked the opportunity to put away my "tents" and be able to devote my energy and talents in serving the Lord and His people full time, but I wanted to continue to serve Him with my gifts in whatever place and role He puts me.

Sadly it seems that "teaching" ministry is for younger men, and those who aren't employed by their ministry are looked down upon as well. That is the flip side of "tent making" - who would brag a pastor makes tents or checks groceries for a living. For many years I thought my retirement years could be of use to the church or missions, but that seems unlikely now. My local church seems to have no use for me. I have continued working at Safeway, thirty five years in 2014 - working full time day shifts as front end manager and grocery clerk with now little free time or energy for study - persevering till retirement - i.e. social security at 66. Being grandparents has kept us busy too. Perhaps my anticipated story telling business - Eldrbarry's Family Tales will give me opportunities once I am finally free of the checkstand.

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