learning co-pastoring through separation?!?

Along with new church development one of the things Mason and I feel called to is co-pastoring, or at the least working together in the ministry. We work well together, we balance each other out, we keep each other focused and grounded, and we both have strengths that compliment well the other’s weaknesses. Needless to say, we’ve worked well together so far in our time at New Kirk over the past 4 years, and decided to take it to the next level with our Supervised Ministry.

We have been mentored for a while about several things concerning co-pastoring:

  1. It can be a great thing, as long as you can separate your home life from your church life.
  2. It can be a difficult thing and can also cause marital strain, so prayerfully consider before doing.
  3. It has been known to actually tear apart marriages, or cause one spouse to leave the ministry, or both.
  4. Each person must develop their own skills for ministry, and then later mesh the skills together.
  5. You absolutely must try it out in a Supervised Ministry format before accepting a co-pastoring call!

So, given our warnings and advice we decided to go forth with the Supervised Ministry together experience over the next two semesters – September to May. We will each have our own areas of work per the develop-your-own-skills advice (Mason takes Youth, Katie takes CE and Children’s Ministry), but we will also have similar goals in worship leadership and church administration given our joint sense of call to NCD. It’s a given…and our Supervisor is fine with it, our Committee on Preparation for Ministry (COPM) is fine with it, and our Dean is fine with it, and our SM professor is okay with it, too.

Side note: we are also both taking one credit of SM this fall along with two on-campus courses, so we are a bit stretched thin this semester. Taking that into consideration, continue reading…

That all being said, there are going to be times in our “ministry partnership” when we are going to help each other out. We’re like assistants to each other sometimes. And we’re totally used to it. We can’t function apart from it. We remind each other of things, we teach each other things, we learn from each other, we encourage each other, we share with each other, we offer constructive criticism to each other, and we help each other stay organized…or learn to be organized. It’s who we are and it’s how we operate and it hasn’t been a problem yet. We do separate our personal selves from our ministry, but we can’t separate our ministries from each other…I just don’t see how that could be healthy for our church’s ministries, or even for our health!

Well, this past weekend I got a slap on the wrist. We are being strongly encouraged (and I used that verylightly) to completely separate ourselves during our supervised ministry experience. (Which makes NO sense to us given that we are trying to learn to co-pastor, but okay…) The point is for us to develop our own selves in the ministry while working toward our goals. Well it’s all great in theory, but it just can’t happen in reality. That’s not even the way that New Kirk, our SM location, works. All of the ministries work together in that church…as I assum(ed) they did in every church. But we know what happens when one assumes something…

I digress. Anyway, we have to work closely with our COPM, our supervisor Scott, and our seminary during this process. Paperwork must be done. Seemingly pointless activities must be completed. Forms and reports must be turned in. And it’s all the same forms/paperwork for the both of us! Well, in the spirit of saving time since two of our learning goals are identical, I thought I would just copy and paste into Mason’s goals and then finish typing everything up together. I’d print both of them out and we’d turn them in individually. Well, Mason forgot to put his name on his, so I did it for him. All heck broke loose…I’m not allowed to type anything for Mason anymore, and I’m not allowed to put his name on anything either…even if it’s all the same stuff as mine and it would take more time for him to do it himself! Nope. I can’t do it. I got slapped on the wrist and told that I would be watched very carefully throughout this entire process. Basically, if I write his name on something, I will get points off my grade. Forget the fact that we share books for classes or ride to church and school together…

I’m sorry, honey, I’ll no longer be washing your socks for you either. I love you, but I just can’t do it. We must learn to co-pastor through separation…

One thought on “learning co-pastoring through separation?!?

  1. Hmmmm . . . sounds VERY interesting and creative. i think this process might actually help to see how co-pastors are treated and perceived. Things that might seem like no-brainers to you all, may not be seen that way, so how do you strategically lead people into learning how, not only to train co-pastors, but to received leadership from them. Fascinating. Press on!


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