From Bill Easum
It is my belief multiple pastors is a model for the 21st century. Here are some examples and some thoughts. You can find more in my book Leadership On The Otherside: No Rules, Just Clues to be published in June of 2000.
Fellowship Bible in Little Rock AR began with four equal pastors and has had them from the start. Each pastor has a different function.
Co-pastors have been used successful for many years at First Presbyterian Church, Center Street, Bethlehem, PA and Church of the Apostles United Church of Christ, Marietta Pike, Lancaster, PA. Church of the Apostles has three co-pastors and will end you information on how they do it. It is a large church.
- Make sure both have the same vision, even if one is primary in communicating the vision – the two need to be working together.
- Make sure the two trust each other implicitly.
- Build in time for prayer and study for the two together.
- Communication, communication, communication!
- Make sure the two are wise enough not to be “triangulated”.
The following post came on our website concerning co-pastors
My wife and I co-direct Church Development Institute, the field education program and continuing education at the School of Theology. In the last five years these programs have grown immensely and are in healthy shape. Beyond that we co-pastor St. James Teaching mission with a team of seminarians. It is a small church where we do a lot of innovative stuff and provide a more hands-on training experience for seminarian interns. If you intern at St. James you are required to start a cell group and leave it in good shape with a trained lay leader by the time you leave seminary. In the last five years we’ve grown from a handful of folks about 12-15 to averaging 75-80 a Sunday and our budget has more than tripled. This year we’re hiring a part-time lay mobilization director which we think will be a big boost. Two of our seminarians who feel a call to be church planters are raising up a parallel congregation and using church planting strategies. We hope we can get them through Boot Camp this spring of summer. We think this is all pretty exciting stuff, especially for a seminary to be involved. I’m not saying that our growth and vision is all to do with being co-pastors, but I can’t imagine doing it alone. It has been a good model for our seminarians in terms of working as a team. We have been married for fourteen years so we came into this knowing each others gifts and strengths so it was an easy transition for the most part. Prior to coming here we were both full time restart/development priests in two different congregations. that was exciting but after our experience here I can’t imagine not being co-pastors if we returned to full-time parish ministry.
We still get resistance to our working together as a team and sometimes I wonder if this is because we tend to want someone where the buck stops, sort of like Israel wanting a king, someone whose butt is in the hot seat that we can scapegoat if things go wrong or raise up on a throne if it goes well.
From Bill Easum
In 1985 the church I was serving tried to go to a co pastorate. the board voted on it and we proceeded forward and informed our Bishop. He promptly had a kitten. He told us that if we proceeded neither of us would have a job. So we rescinded the decision. why did we do it? Because I knew then two things: that the world was becoming too complex for one leader to lead anything of great promise; and two, that succession of a large organization required the present leader to select the successor. In my tradition that is a NO NO. but that has to change. The co pastorate we tried was between two people who complimented each other but were very different. I was the prophet who acted first and listened second, and the other pastor was the entrepreneurial pastor who listened first and acted second. we made an exceptional team.
I am presently negotiating for a partner in a ministry that does not need a partner because I believer the the lone ranger type of leadership is a thing of the past. I want to role model partnership, not charismatic leader.
co-leader is very different from team ministry.. in team ministry the leader is first among equals. In co pastors, no one is the first amount equals. they are both equal. Stalemates are possible. In a threesome-pastorate, there can’t be stalemate. If all three are entrepreneurial, no one person can persuade the other to do their bidding. In such case, common sense has the best chance to rule in the wormhole when everything appears upside down.