I noted in a previous article the trend toward more churches having more than one teaching pastor. Though this trend in the past was more common with larger churches, it is becoming more prevalent in smaller churches today. In smaller churches with this approach, many of the teaching pastors are unpaid or bivocational.
In the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to talk with several of these pastors. Most of the time my conversation was with the lead pastor, the equivalent of the senior pastor in many churches. But my conversations included a number of teaching pastors who are not lead pastors. My question was simple: Why do you have multiple teaching pastors? Here are the five most common responses.
- It helps avoid a personality cult syndrome. Because the church members hear from different pastors at different times, no one pastor is always front and center. The focus one pastor typically gets is spread among others.
- When one pastor leaves, the church is not left with a leaderless interim time. One of the most difficult times a church can experience is a period with no leader, even if the church calls an interim pastor. Transitions are much smoother when there are multiple teaching pastors.
- There is always a back-up pastor when the need arises. As a pastor, I can remember a few times where I was sick or stranded in another city the night before I preached. There is always a time of panic trying to find someone to preach at the last minute. With multiple teaching pastors, there is always a back-up ready.
- Variety can be healthy. Every pastor has a different preaching or teaching style. The church does not get stuck in the rut of one approach week after week when different pastors are available.
- Pastors need breaks. Unless you’ve been there, it is hard to comprehend how difficult it can be to prepare some 50 messages with consistent quality in the course of a year. It is good for the church and good for the pastor to get breaks from the challenge of preparing messages week after a week.
Churches with multiple teaching pastors are still in the minority. And there are some who disagree with this approach of church leadership.
What do you think of these benefits I have enumerated? What perspectives do you have about multiple teaching pastors?