Vineyard church planting strategies have a long tradition of bi-vocational pastors. This is a radical advantage in ministry among the poor as a temporary planting strategy, but also as a permanent funding strategy for ministry: 1) Under-resourced communities have an inherent mistrust of those they perceive as ‘wealthy.’ Bi-vocational leadership demonstrates a degree of financial struggle on the part of the pastor that assuages this mistrust. 2) Bi-vocational leadership eases the burden on impoverished communities of raising the funds for pastoral salaries. 3) Bi-vocational leadership frees up resources for other ministry endeavors; this is a boon in any setting, but especially in under-resourced communities. 4) Bi-vocational leadership aids pastors in understanding the life and culture of those they are attempting to minister to.
Centered Set Ecclesiology
The Vineyard posture towards outsiders is radically hospitable; “belong before you believe.” Individuals are welcomed into body life ‘as they are’ without any doctrinal or behavioral hurdles erected as prerequisites to participation. This is essential to ministry in impoverished communities in the following ways: 1) Poverty arises from, and contributes to, a disordered life; a bounded-set ecclesiology would either exclude such individuals (by requiring people to jump hurdles they could not yet jump) or incentivise hypocrisy (by prompting people to hide their aberrant behaviors when around others). 2) A “ministry of presence” is implicit within such a model of church life; when we embrace a centered-set model we become focused on ‘being with people.’ This is a requirement for the highly placed-based culture of immobility that arises within under-resourced communities. 3) Urban poverty is marked by racial diversity, spiritual pluralism, and multiculturalism of every kind; the Vineyard ecclesiology (with a posture of hospitality towards those who don’t ‘look the part’) enables us to navigate such turbulence.