why i believe in co-pastoring

a few years ago i had never even heard of a co-pastor.   i knew about senior pastors, i knew about associate pastors and childrens & youth pastors and some churches, if they had really big budgets, would have a care pastor.  but during all my time in churches and ministry i never heard the word “co-pastor.”  i did always wonder “why is only one guy in charge?…how is that really a good idea?”  when the church i was on staff with  a few years ago lost its senior pastor (who had built the church from 80 people to 4,000) it never occurred to me to hire one guy to replace him.  that  seemed like such a stupid idea to me, not just for the person but also for the community.    why not just let the people who were already really leading ministries at the church keep it moving and hire a few more teammates to share the load.  keep diffusing power and cultivating community and sharing.  honestly, you’d think that i had grown a third eye out of the middle of my head, the responses of some leaders. i know they were thinking i didn’t know what the hell i was talking about from a “professional ministry perspective.”  after all, they had experience running churches like corporations for many years and were pretty darn good at it.   the responses:  “we need someone to be in charge.”  “we need someone who can take us to the next level.”  “we need someone that can be a strong leader.” 

so here’s my question:  why?  why are so many churches continually replicating professional models of  leadership in the church?  why can’t there be several leaders, a team of people, who share the load?  why is this kind of diffusion of power and model of mutual submission so out of the ordinary in the kingdom of God, where the principles of living are supposed to be contrary to the ways of the world?   

well i will once again get on my soapbox about change in the church.  you see, while churches are trying to  expand their horizons in many wonderful missional and emerging ways, the truth is:  most of the structures are exactly like they have always been.  one seminary-educated white male on top, a few guys and maybe a girl or two beneath them who do the day to day ministry of pastoring and keeping the ship afloat, and a completely separate team of elders who are mainly white professional “godly” men who know how to make good strategic decisions for the sake of the church.    in mainline denominations there are quite a few women lead pastors, too, replicating the same kind of structures. 

when we were planting the refuge i did some online research of almost 200 “emerging” church websites to see what was out there. i wanted to cry, really.  same old structure.  cute cleancut white male “lead” or “senior” pastor and a boy board of elders.  there were a few women children’s directors, maybe an associate pastor role here and there, but two years ago, in the research i did, this was blaringly clear:  while many people were trying a lot of new experimental ministries, very few people were actually trying new models of leadership.   to me, it sort of looked like pouring new wine into old wineskins. 

when the refuge began i realized we had a chance to actually try what we had dreamed could be possible in any community, regardless of size.  let’s actually share leadership here.  karl’s the one that used the word “co-pastor” for the first time to me.   it  meant i had to step into the deep end and actually try something that i was really good at ranting and raving about  but had never  seen in action.   now, after doing it for almost two years, i honestly don’t understand why more people don’t give it a try.   i  think it’s so foreign in typical church planting circles that it’s not even on most anyone’s scan.  (i do know a handful of people giving it a try in different shapes and forms: the bridge, vineyard community church, revolution, via christus and mercy seat and of course there are lots of house church structures that do not have “pastors” at all).  some other churches i know have it in function (the lead pastor involves the associates in all of the decisions but, honestly, that is not the same as actually co-pastoring jointly together.  in my opinion, if one person can fire the other, it’s not co-pastoring).  one other note: it is more common for married couples to co-pastor together, too.   it really is a drag for those of us who are married to people who aren’t that interested in shepherding a community.  and i should also add, to me,  it’s not necessarily just about gender. i think it would be just as cool for a couple of men to co-pastor or a couple of women.   i of course believe it’s always best for everyone, though, if men and women are working alongside each other and adding the kind of diversity & equality that the early church modeled.  i also think 3 is an even better number.  

in the current refuge structure  karl and i co-pastor the refuge along with 7 others who form our pastoral/elder team. we meet every week for a meal and a meeting that isn’t focused as much on “doing” as it is on “being”.  we believe that what we hope for the entire community we must first practice here.  we can’t expect authentic community to be created if we can’t do it ourselves.    karl and i spend most of our time pouring into the refuge so we do get a small salary but titles or money doesn’t give us more power or authority than the other people on our team.  no one person is the boss.   no one person is at the head.   we always meet with at least one other person so as many voices as possible are included.  we are discovering what it means to share and make decisions for our community together.   we submit to each other & are constantly tweaking and evolving.  we do not know how our team’s function and form will evolve, but we do know that the refuge will remain deeply committed to co-pastoring instead of a lead pastor model.   what we have learned in the past two years has changed  my view of leadership forever. 

here’s why i passionately believe in co-pastoring–sharing, i mean really truly sharing, the lead pastor role:

  • it diffuses power and keeps egos in check

a pastoral role can be more powerful than people think.   people look up to pastors in some weird ways.  when all that power gets put into one person, things can get a little nutty.  i know churches think elder boards  keep it in check and, sure, a lot of “lead” pastors have good relationship with their “associates”, but i still think it’s not quite the same as requiring a pastor to actually  have to work with a peer, an equal, a person that they can’t fire or tell what to do, a person whose voice is heard just as much as theirs.   

  • it is a way to not just talk about but actually practice mutual submission

it means no one gets to be “right” just because they happen to have a certain anatomy or be in a particular role.  as a team we have to figure out the best solutions instead of submitting to someone’s authority “just because they’re the head.”   people say all the time “well what happens when you disagree? how do you come to a decision?”  we submit to each other situationally & sometimes we just wait to see what God reveals instead of demanding ourselves to decide in a given moment.  

  • it multiplies giftedness & decreases loneliness

it allows for a diversity of voices and giftedness.    it allows for parts of the body to be equally valued instead of making the head bigger than it should be.  we’ve all had to stretch in different ways instead of only leaning into the one thing we are used to doing.  also, i have been “the leader” of way too many things over the years; i have come to hate the pressure and the loneliness. it creates terrible insecurity.  it is such a relief to not have to carry the burden all by myself. 

  • it is healing for the body of Christ & creates community

there’s something healing about diffused power and the diversity of voices, genders, styles in shared leadership.  i think hearts know that it’s somehow closer to how it was was actually supposed to be.   i believe when men and women work alongside one another it also models a beautiful thing that is noticeably missing in the body of Christ—safety.    there’s something  very healing for people that there are men and women in leadership at our church, not just boys and not just girls.  i think we need both. 

here’s all i really hope:   leaders  & communities start considering it.  quit putting all that power in one place. stop expecting a senior pastor to save the day.  quit defaulting to worldly models.  let men and women’s voices be heard alongside each other.  start teaching that people can split and share the load and learn how to work together as equals not just in theory or practice but on org charts, too (personally, i am glad i haven’t seen an org chart now in over 2 years, yeah! but i of course recognize some people still need them.  i hope eventually some have 2-3-4 boxes on top, right next to each other, side by side)

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Great writeup, Kathy. That sounds like lots of fun. God’s blessings on you as you keep forging ahead with leading in the way that God has inspired you and your fellow pastors.

    I think it would maybe be neat to be involved in something like that some day.

  • wow.
    I’ve never heard of this concept before (yeah – sorry!).
    Very refreshing to see someone doing something really different.
    Thanks Kathy – have added you to my feed reader.
    PS – have you visited my church recently? How else would you have known how to describe it so well?!! 😉

  • hanan – yes, it is fun! really the most fun thing i have ever done. thanks for reading. i try to check out your blog when i can, too.

    erin – well we are all really have plunged into the deep end, haven’t we?

    matt – thanks for stopping by & glad you got exposed to the thought for the first time. that makes me happy. yeah, it’s not the most well-known idea, is it? how’d you hear about this blog? glad you’ll be reading and look forward to hearing from you.

  • Kathy, you rock my world. I love how you just come out and say it.Really good
    The Bridge has used this model since it’s inception in 1998. Seriously I would have quit by now if we had not. I think the reason why most don’t do it is because most want “movers and shakers” for leaders.Those are the kinds of people that can “get things done.” The problem with that is that such a person usually has very high ego needs, which makes it nearly impossible to truly collaborate, especially with women if he is a male.
    We have been accused by our local compadres here in Portland as being a “three headed monster… when are you going to stop that nonsense?”
    I am with you there is such security in this model… lots of checks and balances, more true creativity and guess what the people are pastored by the person on staff who they relate to the best. Everybody wins.

  • Great post Kathy on a model that of course I think is great! I in essence co-pastored with Jim even though we did not call it that. When Rich and I stepped in after Jim left we did it fully as co-pastors. In many ways it was easier to work with someone that was not my husband, in the sense that sometimes our work bleeds over into our marriage. It is one area where it is healthy for us to compartmentalize in order to make space for our marriage. I actually think the model of co-pastoring, or a collegiate team made up of both men and women who share leadership is very, very healthy. We get asked all the time, “who makes the final decision?” Rich and I work with a young man, our associate and four other leaders. We have never had a situation that called for one person to make a “final” decision. We defer and submit to one another. It does dislocate the power held in one person and models empowering the wider congregation. Much peace and grace to you!

  • Kathy, I really appreciated your words on co-pastoring.

    At First Presbyterian Church in Missoula where Cody and I are members, we have two male co-pastors. It is working very well the pastors are two very different personality types and different leadership styles which allows more people in the church to be reached.

    I really appreciate you and I just had to say hi! Blessings to you and your family!

  • Kathy,
    Great post! I agree that emerging/missional change should influence structure also, not just ministry style. There are potentially many possibilities in restructuring leadership. You’ve done a great job of describing the benefits of exploring different structures.

  • deborah – you know what is so funny, just today i was reading online an old discussion about co-pastoring and how it would never work between a few guys and the word they used was “two-headed monster” and “who would ever make the decision, we are called to lead and lead strong.” it was so funny (but not). hope to see you soon!

    rose – it really does model submission and deferring to one another, kingdom principles. you guys have been such a good encouragement to us that it is possible.

    beth – fun to hear from you, that was a fun surprise. and that is cool that your church is doing two male co-pastors. that is great. i’ll check it out. give little greta a hug from the escobars

    grace – thanks for stopping by. i do think there are so many more possibilities of restructuring leadership that i hope will continue to be explored and experimented instead of just relying on old ways “just because they’re easier”. my hope is more and more pioneers will open up doors for greater freedom, equality, impact, and spiritual & emotional health for communities.

  • I like your words, especially the diffused power, the diversity of ideas, men and women working together, horizontal org charts, and the thought of new ways of doing things in the church. However, I think that there’s a balance. Some people actually like to lead. I agree that most of the time, others don’t necessarily feel the same sentiment about them leading, but there are some leaders who are extremely adept at including others and taking control when necessary. I think that this type of balanced approach is where the best product will emanate from. Now, I understand that this is where my argument goes awry, because maybe the church’s goal should not be the “best product,” but it’s a difficult thought to get rid of in my mind. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong to think. I just know that it’s there.

    As I type this, I’m thinking that what’s probably a better direction is to realize that there are many different approaches, and nothing says that they all can’t be “successful.” Whether it’s with a lead pastor or with multiple lead pastors, maybe tolerance of others and their ideas is the best formula. Like you said at the end of your blog, some people need org charts. At the same time, some people don’t. I resonate with all your thoughts of shared leadership at church, but I also see the benefits of one leader. I love the thought of diversity, but some just aren’t ready for it. Do I agree with them? No, not at all, but are they destined for some type of eternal damnation because of their ideas? I sure hope not.

  • Kathy,

    Great picture of leadership, faith, community, love, friendship, serving, “thinking of others as more important than yourself”…sounds like heaven.

    I worked at a large church where initially there were two male “co-pastors”. They co-founded the church, both from another local church that sent them to plant the new one. I arrived about seven years into the deal started. The co-pastor thing had become unworkable and caused confusion and frustration for the staff. I actually lobbied hard for reality in that situation…one of the “co-pastors” was seen by everyone (including the other co-pastor) as the “senior” pastor, and he functioned and saw himself in that way. He continued to talk about his position and role in the co-pastor language, but functionally he was the CEO and everyone (including me, from the day I started on staff there) knew it.

    This was a matter of one driven, CEO type leader forcing himself to lead in this non-natural way. The other co-pastor just ended up feeling resentful and fighting for power and recognition. That made the entire staff wonder who the hell was in charge, and left me wondering who my boss was (I mean, I couldn’t work for TWO CEO’s at the same time…particularly when they weren’t playing well together). So I insisted we just live in the reality that was, at the time.

    I long to be a part of a church body that functions in the way you describe. I think Jim Henderson has given me hope as I’ve joined Off The Map (he has very little ego to serve, as you know). I just wish I could find this in a local church.

    The first century church had no paid professional “pastors”. They had “elders” lead the local church (and there seemed to be more than one doing that in each location). Today we have paid professionals acting like CEO’s, and elders acting like a board of directors…except they usually don’t have that kind of power.

    I’ve just started reading “Pagan Christianity?” (the new one that Barna co-wrote). Lots of interesting deconstruction of church models in light of history (although a little too much personal resentment seeps through, for my taste). So far it is sounding like a manifesto for your vision of co-leadership, and for real change in the church to be.

    Thanks again, Kathy. I’m really looking forward to working with you this year!

  • I like Randy’s thoughts and wonder if he has hit on something. I wonder if there is a point in size, a congregation by sure reason of size has to become more corporate than communal? I wonder if our congregation grew to 250 people or more if we would be able to sustain the style of leadership structure that works for a congregation under 200? Any thoughts?

  • Kathy, I have to say I was thrilled to read this post and find your blog. I agree whole-heartedly, though I would go even further and suggest that the role of “pastor” as currently constructed – solo or shared – has taken a single leadership-oriented spiritual gift among many (four others are listed in Ephesians 4:11, and still more are mentioned elsewhere in scripture) and blown it up into a role where certain Jesus-followers are expected to be professional leaders, possessed of *all* leadership-oriented gifts, and in the lead role in almost any endeavor a Christian community undertakes – while everybody else is expected to defer to them.

    I’m convinced that all of us are spiritually gifted, and all of us have gifts and passions that might enable us to lead, equip, inspire, teach, serve, and/or pastorally care for others, given the right context and the lack of an expectation that it’s somebody else’s job. Or maybe it’s just the community that I’m a part of – where just about everybody ends up in a “leadership” role at one time or another, whether it’s coordinating or creating a Sunday morning worship service, a “service-worship” project blessing our wider communities, a party, a retreat, a pastoral care effort, a technology innovation, an art project, or whatever.

    But it’s arguable that I’m just quibbling over semantics – any human enterprise that’s going to move in anything other than a random fashion probably needs somebody(ies) designated to coordinate and facilitate that movement, and Christian communities are no exception. The small community/church I’m a part of (The Common Table – http://commontable.org – roughly 35 adults and our kids) tends to shy away from the term “pastor” but has a leadership team of three, and we’ve worked this way since our founding pastor left in 2002, about a year after the church began. We’ve been known to opine that the greatest gift (of many) that our founding pastor gave us was to leave! 🙂

    Membership on the team has changed over time, but so far it’s always been a mixture of women and men, staff and volunteer. At the moment, it’s one woman and two men; one staff (one of the men) and two volunteers, but our “senior” (though youngest) member, Deanna, was on staff as well until late last year; now she continues to serve as a volunteer. It’s not unusual for folks to be connected with out community for months before figuring out what “standing” leadership roles we have and who’s in them – this was my experience! (In the interest of full disclosure, these days I’m the most junior member of our LT – the non-staff dude.)

    Anyway, needless to say, I *love* working in community this way, for all the reasons you mention and more. But I also tend to agree with some of the speculation in recent comments about community size – we’ve often suggested that if our community ever began to approach 100 core members, we’d probably split into two closely connected communities. Quite honestly, I’m not sure that I think communities above a size where anonymity becomes possible are a very good idea, nor can I think of very good reasons why we’d need them – if the strong peer networks of communities that are beginning to form continue picking up steam. But that’s another topic. 🙂

    Anyway, good on ya, Kathy – thanks for laying it out there so darn boldly and well!!

    Mike Croghan

  • glad for all the great thoughts!

    urh – i hear what you are saying. different models work for different communities. what i think is sad, though, is when people think there’s only one way because that’s the only way that’s really taught and promoted as “the best chance of success”. it is true, professional “strong leader on top” models can be very “successful” when it comes to numbers and people. i think newer models require different measures of success.

    randy – interesting story about your church! i can see how if there’s this weird dynamic of power that it can be really tricky and probably what you called out was so necessary instead of pretending it was co-pastoring when it really wasn’t. i am going to check out that book, have been hearing a lot about it lately. it will be fun to get to work with you, too!

    rose – i believe communities above a certain size do not have to be as forced as we think to move toward a corporate model but i think it’s harder to preserve community and sharing and so much less likely to happen. that’s why i think traveling light and multiplying instead of building a monster is always a better idea. plus, authentic community is impossible above a certain size. yet, i still believe some of these larger communities could try it, though, instead of dismissing it as impossible because of their size because they could expose people to some new ways, rock their world a little instead of continually maintaining the status quo.

    mike – thanks for stopping by! i always love to learn about new communities so i will be checking out common table for sure. cool. and yeah, i am with you on the idea that the word “pastor” isn’t even necessary in a community that really believes in the priesthood of believers. one of the reasons i have kept the title is to begin to represent outside of our community that women can be pastors, too, in circles that is really a foreign concept in, especially the idea of a “co-pastor”. it’s our little way of stirring the pot.

  • tracy, thanks for stopping by and for the thoughts on plural leadership on your blog. i hope others will take a look, too. really great thoughts!

  • Kathy, you are amazing! I love how bold you are. As you know I pastor using this model (with Deborah and Geoff) at the bridge. I have lived most of my life under the other model and had never really thought anything of it (i was young). On coming to the bridge the shared leadership of three was the way it was and again I didn’t really think anything of it. but over the years with the different struggles that have happened in the church i see the beauty of this model with a blaring clarity. We love one another and work toward solutions that are not just good for the ONE but hopefully for all. And there is a security in sharing…we are not alone!
    thanks for your willingness to look at what is sometimes uncomfortable to look at.

  • angie, it is fun to know that we are both trying these new models out and realizing that they really do work and they are really worth any extra effort it takes to get there. we want you guys to come down this summer!

  • Kathy,
    I was looking on-line for co-pastoring info.
    Am on a church Board that is considering this.
    I would caution you to avoid being overly critical of the main-line church structure. Some work very well.
    Some of your reflections seem a reaction to the critical attitute presented to you, ie. “they were thinking i didn’t know what the hell i was talking about” –
    – Maybe there are new structures to consider for new times. However I would suggest that we not toss out the traditional structure simply because there are many that follow the format. Who knows maybe if the co-pastor church catches on, the new gereration will be critical of that because it is the new “norm of church structures”…and they’ll want to revamp that! ……..grin

  • scott, oh yeah, i know i can be overly critical and that’s not a good idea, either, so thanks for the reminder!  i do believe there are lots of ways, not just one way, and i just hope more and more people try some new variations to model greater diversity & equality in the kingdom. thanks for stopping by, best to you and your church!

  • I’m curious if any of you guys have read Frank Viola’s article, “Will the Emerging Church Fully Emerge?” You can read it entirely here:

    I cannot stop thinking about it, wondering about one part in particular. Wondering if he’s correct. He didn’t write this as a polemic, so I’m trying to wrap by head around all he believes. I’ve read his books. Some parts I liked, some parts I didn’t. Anyway, the part that I cannot stop thinking about is below. Do you think he may be right? That it’s mission impossible? I’d just love to hear your thoughts, Kathy and others, if you have any on this. Scott’s comment, above, is what got me mulling this over fresh and anew today! When he said “Some work very well” my head got put back in this particular line of thinking about it! If this is too long, delete it with no hard feelings on my end!

    “Please note that my critique is not an attack on pastors as people. Most pastors in the emerging church are gifted Christians who have a heart for the Lord and a genuine love for His people. It is the modern pastoral office and role that I believe is profoundly flawed, and few of us have ever questioned it.

    Let me unpack that a bit. My experience in this country and overseas over the last seventeen years has yielded one immovable conclusion: Gods people can engage in high-talk about community life, Body functioning, and Body life, but unless the modern pastoral role is utterly abandoned in a given church, Gods people will never be unleashed to function in freedom under the Headship of Jesus Christ. I have had pastors vow to me that they were the exception. However, upon visiting their congregations, it was evident that the people did not know the first thing about functioning as a Body on their own. Neither were they given any practical tools on knowing the Lord intimately and living by His life. The reason is that the flaws of the modern pastoral role are actually built into the role itself.”

  • hey tracy, okay i just had a chance to read this article and just emailed it to the refuge team, too. thanks so much for sending it, it is amazing food for thought and i have to say, it is bizarro timing for a variety of reasons, several of these things, including the pastor part, have been huge conversations we’ve been having right now. i am not sure that the body can be completely unleashed when there’s still a “looking to” one person or two people or a small team of people to make things happen. it is a very tricky dance and i would say these waters we are navigating are really really scary and foreign. i am going to email you so we can talk some more about this! thanks so much for the link. really great pot-stirring that will linger.

  • Thanks for Your Reply Cathy,
    – Interesting feedback from Tracy.
    ….Was wondering about the passages of scripture where Paul is critical of the church (Corinth I think) because they should have been ready for spiritual meat, yet had to be “taught” again about the spiritual milk. …..Pastors need to teach the body how to grow in maturity. There are also numerous other imperatives to leaders, or teachers. I’m not sure removing them from the church equation helps us move closer to what we want.
    …….At the same time I understand that pastors are just men, and it is dangerous when the “cult of personality” develops. Discernment usually stops when this occurs.
    The challenge is “keeping the main thing” THE MAIN THING. Right? Not a pet program , that is seeker sensitive, with 40 days of community focus, with abundant living dynamics ministry and NOOMA videos forthcoming…….(all good things) …..but keep the focus on the main thing. – Christ. …Funny how this becomes a struggle…….My wife was on a medical missions team. They attended a impoverished villages Sunday service. The church was a clearing the villages had , with the trees painted white half way up the trunks. They had stones to sit on , and took their shoes off before the clearing because it was Holy ground. They were coming into close contact with God. They praise God for 3 hours and talk about what God has done in their lives that week. Some people their have a 2 hr. walk to attend. …My personal thought is that it is our Western culture that is dulling our spiritual growth more than any structural- pastoral- church issues. …We are slaves of what we want rather than bond-servants of Christ.
    Thanks for letting me share,

  • Sorry for that long ramble! The other question I ask myself….Is it good stewardship for the church to use 60-70% of the churches tithe to pay for staff salaries? When, for example, Children’s Ministry gets 4% for curriculum……………(When the majority of people come to accept Christ between 6-17 yrs of age! )

  • hey scott, love the thoughts and good questions. it is so clear that there is not one way, one perfect answer, that is for sure. i do think that it’s a dilemma so many are tossing around. i do think there is a need for good leaders, pastors, people who will be catalysts for change and the truth is that is their contribution to the body of Christ, their giftedness. but i sometimes wonder how much more of the “church” could be unleashed without professional ministry? i am not sure, no clear answers, like the conversation though. thanks for stopping by. you are always welcome here!

  • Hey Kathy,

    Thanks for sharing more of your life and thoughts. I used to say that it was easier to get fired from my church than it was from my secular job (working for the state). At the time, I really liked that model. It gave me a good feeling that people were held accountable for their work. Now…I wonder what sort of scars that may have left on people who weren’t fitting into the church plan anymore or weren’t measuring up to the lead pastor’s standards.

    The idea of co-pastoring fits in my life now. I have been wounded, I have been let go from a job when I couldn’t measure up (but neither could the person letting me go), I have put my faith in a person rather than a common goal we are all supposed to be sharing…just because that person was charismatic, spoke well, and made me laugh. It is making my life better that I have found this community.

  • We do co-pastoring at theStory in Sarnia, and it was the best choice we could have made in planting the church in basically affirming everything you said above.

  • All,

    I struggle with the thought of co-pastors, so I look to the scriptures. As there is no discussion of co-pastors in the bible, the requirements of Overseer is clearly a singular role. In 1 Timothy 3, the requirements for the overseer (Singular) and likewise the Deacons (Plural) is clearly defined. Until someone can clearly direct me to other scritpure that states otherwise I will hold to these truths.

  • hey lisa – sorry for never responding but thanks for your thoughts here. i am glad they resonate with you.

    – one of these days i hope we can talk more about what you guys have going up there; would love to learn from you.

    joe – thanks for taking time to respond. we just see these scriptures and the spirit of them differently.

  • Recommendation that I believe will resonate with you: Christine Smith, “Hospitality, De-Centering, Re-Membering, and Right Relations,” in Jana Childers, Purposes of Preaching, Chalice Press, 2004. Smith uses these four words to redescribe the role of the person “in charge” of preaching.

  • My husband and I have a small community. We consider ourselves equals in ministry and equals in life. We also consider ourselves co-pastors in our small community. We are both priests and yes we are married. It seems that other people in our jurisdiction want to go by the old way of doing things and have one person in charge. That does not work for us because one is not subordinate to the other. We are the only married pastors in our jurisdictions. Co-pastoring works great for us and we would not have it any other way. Also, in listening to our consciense we could not accept one being over the other. Thank you Kathy for writing this. We need more such articles.

  • Hi Kathy!
    Great post – thanks heaps for what you have shared here! My husband and I are finishing training and then hope to co-pastor together, here in New Zealand. I stumbled across this post looking on the net for resources to help guide us in our journey. I agree that both theologically, biblically and practically, co-pastoring is a really valid and healthy way to pastor a church.
    In Wellington Central Baptist Church in NZ, there are two men co-pastoring. They have been doing it for several years and it is going great. 🙂
    Do you have any other recommendations of books, stories, resources to help us as we navigate this road?

    Thanks heaps – bless ya!

  • Did I just read an article about church government that didn’t quote a single scripture? You make it sound like the church is a human institution where it’s okay for individuals just to act according to their own feelings and experiences.

    Also the comments on race are ugly and worldly. I’m a white guy who attends a church that’s part of a network where every pastor I’ve encountered is black, and I don’t complain about a lack of diversity. I just gratefully receive the care and leadership of any man of God, regardless of his colour.

  • You write articles complaining about narcissism in the church, and yet you censor comments that are critical of you, which is something a narcissist would do.

  • Any biblical references you have to back up your stance on the subject would be great. Pastors should have scripture as their first and most influential source before going to extra biblical writing. Thank you.

  • This is exactly why no woman should be in a position to be head of any church without the covering of male leadership. Because in all this ranting about diffusion of power and not submitting to a head you have not given any scripture just personal opinion and feelings, and you have gone complete 180 from how the bible says a church should run…women in today’s society may be puffed up and wanna play the whole “anything you can do I can do better” game with men but the truth is men need to be leading and taking charge of a church and standing on the word of God and not being lead by the feelings and emotions of any woman or group of elders or whatever this nonsense I’m reading is. God created things to be in order and didn’t say when you get to 3rd wave feminism in a society to stop that order…above Christ is the father , who is above all,then men who submit to Christ, then woman who submit to man and children who submit to their mothers …every pastor should be the husband of one wife…this article and your whole church structure is blasphemous…I pray God have mercy on your souls and cause all of you to repent. I understand you don’t like my statement, but it is fact. I have no ill will to any of you just know you need to turn back to God and stop trying to be like this world.

  • Hello Kathy. A few things, I would like to see your Scripture backing on your stance on co-pastoring and also if you could share your story of faith. It seems to me that you have had some negative experiences with church leadership as you mentioned several times being ran by “white men disconnected from the needs of the community”. That may be your experience and I don’t want to dismiss that but we need to discern our efforts in adopting a leadership model society is practicing “inclusive and diverse” fits God’s family structure. The church is God’s idea and He determines its parameters and structure not us nor society. I don’t find this co-pastor model in the 2,000 history of Christianity nor the history we have in the Old Testament. Changing it may seem a good idea but I think this is causing a great deal of confusion since people are taking the liberty to pick and choose what New Testament teaching are convenient to fit their worldview instead of submitting to God’s word and authority.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *