Being an associate pastor can be a very rewarding ministry in a local church. One of the advantages of being an associate pastor is that you often have a more focused ministry portfolio than a solo pastor who has to do everything.
I was a youth pastor for four years and an associate pastor for two years. I won’t say I was the best associate, but I hope I learned something from those experiences as well as my time as a solo and lead pastor. Here are some tips that may make your associate pastoral ministry more effective.
- Make sure your words and actions support the senior pastor, especially in public. You may disagree with your senior pastor, you may not even like your senior pastor, but as long as you are the associate, you are there to support that ministry.
- Do not allow people in the congregation to drive a wedge between you and the senior pastor. Some people will try and they will stroke your ego in their attempts. Do not let this happen.
- Take your associate position seriously and not just as a stepping stone to something better in the future. You may have dreams of being the senior pastor of a large church, but you will do better in that position if you put your full focus in what you are doing now.
- You are a “real” pastor. I would visit people and they would ask me when the pastor was going to visit them. By that, they meant the senior pastor who was the “real” pastor. It is frustrating but your value is not based on the label people place upon you.
- Be willing to do the unglamorous jobs. You may find yourself setting up chairs (I did!) or doing something else that doesn’t feel like ministry. Just do the things that you have to do and do not grumble. If it doesn’t feel like “real” ministry, take that time to pray for the congregation and for the specific focus of your ministry.
I hope these tips are helpful. Being an associate pastor is an important role and should be taken seriously. May God bless you in this role!