II think Associate Pastors are totally stupid for the following reasons 1. Didn’t Protestants break away from Catholicism to avoid a hierarchical governance of the church, yet here we are reinstituting it.
2. Most associates are women and most head pastors are men
3. Associate Pastors have to work for too many bosses. Regular pastors already have two (sort of) between the congregation and God. The associate has the congregation, God and the Head Pastor
4. Finally, the most important reason why I hate associateships is that the ministries that are put under this heading “Pastoral Care” (translation: sick and old people), “Youth” (translation: those who we don’t get) and occaisionally “Mission (translation: those outsiders who need our help) are deemed LESS important than the “real” church (which apparently is made up of insiders who aren’t sick, over the age of twenty well off enough to not need help and not so old to be considered frail.
a. severely limits the church. We are essentially giving the more powerful pastor to those in power in the church. Basically rewarding those who we think can pull their own weight which is a broken theology, because no one has everything they need to be perfect, and we are putting our human limitations on who we think can serve the church
b. Severely limits the ministry itself, causing more red-tape, committees, paperwork and channels to get this “specialized” ministry done.
c. Finally, it severely limits the gifted associate pastors, all of whom have an important call to work, and may have specialized gifts in ministry that should be recognized. (Plus there’s that whole male/female discrepancy, I avoided Christian Ed and Associates like the plague figuring if I started there I’d never move out)
Finally, I am aware that most pastors are lonely and sad, and am aware that we have completely ignored the fact that Jesus sent everybody out in twos (Mark 6). What if we took this one step further and move more and more towards the copastorate being the regular form of ministry as opposed to the solo! This is especially true, since Christ says we don’t need anything but each other to do ministry!!!
Therefore, I propose we do away with all associate pastorships and move instead to co-pastorships. (This idea which I’ve been bouncing around forever dovetails well with Jack’s in http://jackjenkins.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/hey-pcusa-i-have-an-idea/ to employ pastors. Could be the Holy Spirit is moving us one and one towards this new kind of employment).
One co-pastor could be parttime and one could be fulltime or any combo thereof (how would two parttime pastors with full benefits work–wouldn’t that be AWESOME!!)
The way it tends to work is both pastors still get full vacation (particularly important if your a married couple). The pastors take turns moderating session, and probably a “pastor” would be available to answer pastoral needs (no guarentees which one, it would be worked out between the two pastors).
Down with Associateships! Up with Co-Pastorships