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Anecdotally, I know a lot of bi-vocational and second-career pastors who came from IT. At seminary, I saw a lot of them, and 2 of the 4 pastors at my current church have this background.

I remember reading William Willimon who essentially said there were really only three kinds of professionals who had to read texts closely: lawyers, IT folk, and pastors. That has stuck with me, and led me to see a natural flow from IT to the pastorate.

My question is - do I just notice this because of my own IT background, or is there any sort of statistical evidence that would bear this out? Where could I find a good data source to see first careers of second-career pastorates in the United States?

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One of my (IT) coworkers is now a pastor in his church, and slowing moving toward full-time there. I also recently read an (IT) book by a pastor... it's an interesting question. –  Flimzy Aug 13 at 15:07
You could throw musical interest into that mix, too. There's a whole lot of music-heads in IT. –  LCIII Aug 13 at 15:48
One of my (IT) co-workers is the Bishop of his ward, that's a bit different though, because it's a calling in a lay-clergy position, not a chosen career. I know a couple other Bishops that have computer science backgrounds, and a couple more that are lawyers. For the LDS church it wouldn't be a pursued career change, but it is interesting that men with these backgrounds seem to be more frequently called to the work. Perhaps it comes down to having to be able interpret and understand the intent or meaning of reading materials in those careers (laws, code) and not just passively reading them. –  ShemSeger Aug 13 at 18:00
Add me to the count. My first Hebrew professor (an engineering student before being called to ministry) told me that his best Hebrew students came from the following fields: engineering, math, accounting, and computer science. –  Frank Luke Aug 13 at 18:03
OTOH, I've also had/known pastors who were previously truck drivers, writers, postal workers, pizza delivery boys, and a ton of other things, too. –  Flimzy Aug 13 at 18:51

1 Answer 1

It seems that you are suggesting (along with Willimon perhaps) that the sorts of people who have careers in IT or excel in IT careers are also the sorts of people attracted to theological study, in-depth scripture study, and pastoral responsibility - either because of they way they think or because of their personalities. That may indeed be a factor and I have also observed the same trend you are describing.

However, I believe simpler explanation exists. IT work in the modern west is just more likely to be conducive to part-time work or attending school on the side. Remote work, part-time contract work, and flexible working arrangements are more likely to be found there than in many other disciplines. The pay is relatively high, such that a successful developer may in fact be able to cut back to half-time and still pay the rent. Things may be really tight of course, but not impossible. For many of these folks, continuing their computer programming work AND becoming a part-time associate pastor/elder/church planter/whatever is something that is actually feasible. The same is less likely to be true for school teachers, bankers, hotel managers, construction works - you name it. For them, attending seminary or changing jobs involves greater risk and uncertainty.

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