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Randy: I want to tell you about an idea I had while flying back from Israel in December 2003. While on the long flight back, I was thinking of the new the year ahead and wondered what it would be like to co-pastor a church. I knew this model of ministry is rare -- but why? My only point of reference was the typical ministry structure: a lead pastor, along with others pastors who covered specific roles of the church depending on the size of the congregation. Considering a co-pastor model evokes questions and feelings within your current ministry. Questions have a way of refining why ministry is done in a certain way. My initial thoughts were centered on how it would impact my own future. What would our church think when I introduced this idea? What would it look like? Could it work? How? I started slowly --sharing the idea with key leaders. My first stop was with the founding pastor. The responses were mostly cautionary. I felt strongly about the co-pastoring concept and continued on in a joint effort with leadership. Keep in mind that I wasn't coming to these conclusions fresh out of seminary. I have been engaged in ministry for 25 years. I've been a staff member at two churches: Grace Baptist Church in Decatur, Illinois and Calvary Baptist Church in Bellflower, California. I've also been a lead pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Vista, California, and Glenville Bible Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas. Nor were these ideas being implemented in a start-up church. Central Community Church in Cocoa, Florida, began over 25 years ago. 1978, Bob Willeke, a successful real-estate developer was asked to start a church for those who used his campgrounds. Bob agreed to be the pastor of the new church that at that time was named Camp Biblia. With Bob's love for Christ, his gregarious personality, and a genuine love for others, the church was formed and grew to about 100 people under his leadership. Camp Biblia purchased 8 acres just off of I-95 in Cocoa, Florida, and began to build for the future. In 1997 I succeeded Bob as pastor. With my wife D'anae and our two teenage children M'Lisa and Ryan, we immersed ourselves in the life of the church. The congregation was predominately older and at the request of leadership -- at that time -- I was asked to "grow our church younger." As you can imagine it was easier said than done. Change is always a challenge. We went through the growing pains of changing the culture of the church. Through the emphasis on young families, students, and a radio ministry, Central has grown. We added staff, expanded through small groups, and added a second service on Saturday night with a praise-rock format. As the church grew I realized that there were multiple ways to divide ministry responsibilities. Then came the idea to contact Larry to consider the idea of co-pastoring with me. As I have reflected on this decision, I wondered why we don't see this ministry model with greater frequency? I realize that it takes a unique relationship between the two in order for a co-pastor relationship to work. Larry and I have a long history even though we have never worked
We are striving to be true to our form of co-pastoring a church and also to the day-to-day realities of shepherding a church family. Simon. I lead the board meetings and he follows my lead. The result: a blessed church. Texas (my home town). talk over budget concerns. and became the teaching pastor of InChrist Church in Beverly Hills. Randy and I have invested hours talking about the form of a co-pastor partnership and how it works at Central so that our congregation can be blessed." I like how this reads. If you have to teach each week you know that the weekend services seem to come around about every three days. Larry: In 23 years of ministry my only reference of a co-pastor type church existed in Jacksonville. Lucius the Cyrenian. Our leaders were willing and we began praying and sowing seeds for this next challenging process. nicknamed Niger. the only viable style was the lead pastor and then the staff that held necessary positions in the church. . an advisor to the ruler Herod. and work together on the next horizon for our church. It also takes a willing church. One key factor of having a good pace is in the area of teaching. Teaching is demanding work unless you download every message. California. California. prayer. We both engage in discipleship and evangelism. make hospital visits.together. Florida. Randy will teach a few weeks and I'll take a few weeks. Who has not had an amazing idea that really took off at a staff planning session (the form) that took a hard nose-dive when you looked at (the actual) results? As of February 2006 we are 20 months into this and enjoying the pace. "The congregation in Antioch was blessed with a number of prophet-preachers and teachers: Barnabas. Knowing him actually initiated the idea. I planted La Cost Hills Church in Carlsbad. This gives the one who is not speaking the opportunity to get ahead in study. California I received a call from Randy in January 2004 that eventually led to the move to Cocoa. California. The angle of communication and leadership became varied for the benefit of the people. While we were living in Burbank. Acts 13:1 from The Message reads this way. Randy leads the staff meetings and I follow his lead. I had heard of the idea but I had never seen it played out in other church venues. My ministry track was common to Randy's. My first ministry stop was a staff position at Southwest Baptist Church in Amarillo. Let me explain the difference. We both do a daily 30-minutes radio broadcast. Florida. In June of that year we began a new ministry as co-pastor with Randy at Central Community Church. and build illustrative props for the next leg of the race." It takes wisdom to keep the form and actual from becoming a blurred mess. Just like Randy. Manaen. lead our small groups that meet every Wednesday night." They were blessed with five different preachers and teachers."the congregation in Antioch was blessed. Saul. went on staff at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego. reading. I will do several weeks worth of shows then Randy will do several weeks.. All pastors know that the form of ministry and the reality of ministry can cause double vision.. The talking points of our discussion represent the simulator while the reality of what we are doing is called the "actual.
The co-pastor model is not designed for the other pastor to spend all their time at a day spa while the other pastor takes the tickets. and working wireless at Starbucks is a philosophical given.Randy and I are cut from the same swatch of cloth when it comes to ministry influences and direction. Assumption is a close cousin to speculating. listening to David Crowder.God's timing _ The best things in life still comes from God's will and God's timing. across the state. The co-pastor deal is not a cure-all for ministry toxins. it's all down hill. Here are a few must ingredients: . "and there are others who feel like I do. medium. He even TiVos golf. attending Catalyst. Pastors get "weird vibes" over a staff member and vice versa because of speculation and from there.I told the church board in the interview process that it takes a secure leader to develop a co-pastor model in the midst of a growing church environment. "Is there anything building . I'm living in Burbank.Clarify everything . Someone who has private thoughts of ministry fame and being THE pastor will not gravitate to anything that has "co" attached to it. Anyone who entertains the co-pastor idea must be aligned. This is exactly what Randy did by injecting the co-pastor idea to the board.Labor Pains . - . Whether you are in a small. Willow Creek. and sells popcorn to the crowd. Everyone who has ever been through a nasty church fight as a pastor will understand this next statement. Randy is an excellent golfer and I'm bored after four holes.We've found many benefits to our structure so far. designs plays. There are times when Randy and I get together and we'll ask. Who hasn't had their whole ministry plan altered because of one phone call or e-mail? Who hasn't made a move across town. or across the country because we got engaged in God's will and God's timing? . but so far in this expedition at Central the form and actual have lined up. or gigantic church the pursuit of ministry excellence can take you down a trail where you start skimming and begin handing out the leftovers. The soil has to be healthy for the co-pastor model to grow in.Speculating about someone has drowned more than one relationship. missions travel. - Bi-polar Philosophy . I picture Randy looking out of the window on a flight from Israel thinking about the future of Central Community Church. Learning from Saddleback. John Maxwell. The co-pastor model probably would not gain traction in some church settings because of the following: Pastoral Spotlight ." From past ministry settings we know what it's like to do a little of everything because of selfinflicted expectations and end up with a walnut size soul. If you have been in church ministry over 10 minutes you know it takes a lot of strategic work to do a quality job. Don't do it. California looking out the window toward the San Fernando Valley praying about my future. If you have the idea of a co-pastor partnership without the philosophical gel at best you will be headed for pain. It's easier to pick on one pastor by saying. carries the ball. Our differences don't matter.Don't venture down this type of ministry trail if you are looking for a way out of work. When you have two lead pastors it is not likely that you will get mugged in the "church alley" by concerned members who have issues.
Strive for humility . I grew up in the Panhandle of Texas where feed lots for cattle are common." Randy and I were having one of our talks the other day and we both mentioned that we could work for one another. . My respect. love. Regardless of the style of ministry you've been handed. seek to accomplish it with humility from Jesus' life. There are times when I should have been honest when someone asked me if everything was OK. Some days we would get a strong southwest wind and the result would be a good whiff from thousands of cows from area feed lots. Graphic but true. Pride would make this an ugly picture. and humility in serving those under your care. Everyone on staff had better get the direction fulfilled or their heads will end up on a stick. the mission remains the same. In some staff settings the lead pastor can hand down the direction for the church and not have to talk with too many people. Without His example we're doomed to our own exaltation. humility toward fellow colleagues. Because of the co-pastor partnership. clarifying details takes on a high level of importance.Notice the word "strive. That feed lot smell resembles our efforts for God done in a spirit of self that can get cloaked in "doing church. ." Work at it from the model of Jesus and it's possible.up between us?" I can think back over fractured relationships where I should have asked that question sooner. and admiration for this co-laborer is genuine and I'm pretty sure his thoughts are the same toward me. In a co-pastor scenario the two pastors must intentionally choose clarification constantly. It's good to be in at a place in life where honesty is the norm. I wasn't honest and watched the relationship eventually gasp for life. The models of ministry vary.
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