Shared Ministry Is the Best Ministry

Being a part-time or bivocational pastor carries many challenges. Being a full-time pastor , and especially a lead or senior pastor, brings with it a heavy burden as well. I’m concerned that too many pastors today struggle with surviving in ministry. Too many deal with real issues of depression and discouragement and become easily distracted from their calling by the many issues that pull at them.

I’m a classic, type A, which means I would rather do things myself and just get the job done. I’m not a natural delegator. However, being a part-timer means I have no choice but to share ministry with others. Which is a good thing, because that’s actually the way God intended it. Ephesians 4 tells us we who lead the church have the calling not to do all the work of ministry but to equip the saints to do so. Too many pastors follow the lone ranger approach rather than the shared ministry mindset.

I’m grateful for the ability to share ministry with so many. I lead the young pros ministry at Richland Creek Community Church. We are the size of a lot of churches with some 80-100 actively involved currently. Every large church I’ve found that has this many young pros has a full time minister, so I’m the exception more than the rule. Shared ministry is the biblical way and the sensible way to lead. My primary calling is to teach the amazing students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and how I love them. I also write books, and I travel good bit to speak for Jesus. I have to be extremely careful not to overdo things. That’s why I thank God for the folks I share ministry with at the Creek.

I have a great assistant, a young man named Kevin Goebel from Louisiana. Kevin is a newlywed! He just married Casey, who is an EDD student of mine as well. Kevin takes care of so many logistical issues, things I both hate and stink at. We have over 80 going to our fall Getaway in Black Mountain, NC, later this month. I secured the speaker, Micah Fries, and the leaders of worship, two of our small group leaders Bruce and Karla Kassebaum, and I oversee the general schedule. But all the details of lodging, money, meals and other logistics Kevin handles well.

I also don’t teach every Sunday, but about half of them. I’m gone some, but sometimes I will be there and let others teach. This fall I have three guys–Kevin, Tre, and Jason–who teach in my place. It hasn’t affected our attendance at all (these guys are fine teachers, after all).

We have six small groups led by married couples, most of whom are middle aged: The Swangers are the newest ( their first meeting was last night!), the Browns, the Meachums, the Kassebaums, the Sturgeons, and the Cramers. These people are amazing. Last night as the Swangers met, not only did the couple they replaced join them for their first meeting–the Liles, who are also such a blessing–but Troy and Sherry Meachum and Bill Cramer came as well. I didn’t ask them to do that. This is just what they do. They go the second mile. They encourage one another, build one another up in love, and help me in ways words can’t describe.

Pastor, how much of your ministry do you give away? Make no mistake, I’m the leader of the ministry. Ministries need one to look to, but so much of our ministry is done by others. And so should yours. And, that’s not to mention the host of young pros who teach youth Life classes, serve in special needs and a myriad of other ways.

Ministry is not about seeing how much you can do, but how well you can equip, encourage, and provide opportunities for others to do as well. I’m grateful for the joy of serving young pros and these great people with whom I share this work.