Audio 41: What Associate Ministers Want From Their Senior Pastor

We have been talking about supporting an associate minister. This audio however is directed to Senior Pastors. How can Senior Pastors develop and support the associate minister in the church? Elder Cox addresses this question in this audio.

Download the audio at this link.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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13 comments on “Audio 41: What Associate Ministers Want From Their Senior Pastor
  1. Vernetia Miller says:

    I really appreciate these tips. Even as an associate minister, it helps to know what to expect from a senior pastor or mentor.

  2. Valarie Harris says:

    I appreciate your tips about training. We currently have a MIT course, however, after the training is over, you are basically on your own. Using an analogy, when a coach sees players being ineffective, they call a “time out” get them refocused and send them back in to help the team win. When we as ministers are ineffective, we are not helped to become effective, we are just not asked to do that type of ministering anymore.

    We become ministers in our church and are given a church department. Our main goals are to get the members to join and help in our departments and if possible, become self substaining where the church itself will not have to supply the monies for resources needed. The department that my husband and I were involved in required members to have a lot of technical knowledge of video software and computers. We provided all of the equipment and materials ourselves because our Bishop do not want to spend money if we cannot give him a guarantee that the equipment will not fail and will do exactly what we need it to do without buying additional items. Because of this, we find ourselves doing alot of things (webpage, video editing, etc) at home. We let him know that this is happening and we get a “Praise God” for our efforts.

    Back to getting membership involved, we could not. First, members are eager, but I can not train them at my house to do work for the church. We currently do not have any equipment at the church we can work with. In addition to training, is the time to do it. Members always want to learn on their time during church hours and never after church hours. We our told to be more flexible and make their time our time. We do just that and end up chasing and calling them to find out their availiability.

    I feel that our Bishop sees us being ineffective in our department and in our ministering, however, he does not address any of these isses unless we come to him first. If a leader or minister takes his hands off of the plow and no longer wants to work in the church, I do not see this challenge being solved, just, eventually that person leaving the church. We have had a lot of people leave the church who started out with us. My husband and I want to leave too, not to start our own church like they did, but to sit under another authority who may offer more of what we need to become more effective in our ministering.

  3. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Thank you for your comment. One thing that is a challenge is to lead a church in areas where you do not have skill. I would encourage you to do the best you can do demonstrate to your Senior Pastor the work you are doing.

    In areas of technology, many senior pastors do not have a clue. They don’t know how much money it costs to do a website. They don’t know how much time is needed. If you simply do it without reporting the time, effort, and finances invested the senior pastor will never know.

    I do hear you on the need for “continuing training” as well as “evaluation and improvement” of associate ministries. All I can say is let your senior pastor know of your concerns and take the next step after the pastor responds.

    Finally, if the building is available, most ministry training should be done in the church. This enforces the reality that this is done on behalf of the church. It also enforces the reality that you are an ambassador of the church in this work…

    May God bless you as you continue to do work for the Lord.

  4. Rev. Roberts says:

    As a Sr. Pastor I would love to provide all of the tips you recommended. However, some Associate Ministers fail to remember that they are still under the Sr. Pastor. Some Associate Ministers begin to think that whatever assignment that was given to them, they think becomes their ministry. They need to remember that as an assignment was given, an assignement can be taken away or changed. I would love to give my assocate various assignments but when I give them one, you can’t take it back or give them a different assignement. I would love to see the associate ministers have a well-rounded training, but if you give them a teaching assignment and then want to take it back and give them a less visible assignment (ie, visiting the sick) they tend to rebel.

  5. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Rev Roberts,

    I when I first saw “take it back” I thought you gave an assignment and then that particular assignment was taken away. If I am reading you correctly, I think you are saying you give an assignment to teach one week, and then next week you may give an assignment to visit the sick. That is different from giving an assignment to preach this week at bible study and then to take that assignment away where they don’t teach this week instead they do something else. The latter would truly be a problem, the former is totally and fully within your discretion as a senior pastor.

    This is an important thing you are bringing up. The reality is many associates, and senior ministers as well, seek the “visible” appointments rather than the ministry that God called them to. This is why I hope that finding an outlet for your ministry will help associates to be in a position where they can learn from the senior minister while at the same time gaining experience in become an effective minister.

    To be honest “You Ain’t Lying” many associates rebel when they don’t get the visible assignment, this is why it is imperative that they have ministry opportunities outside the church. IT is totally not the Senior Pastor’s job to find all these opportunities, but you can help to point to them. Another thing that can be helpful is to make these “less visible” assignments more visible but publicly acknowledging those who do this job well. Let the people know that these associates are working as pastors in these jobs and that they are very important for the well being of the church. Some times associates downplay the importance of some positions because the church as a whole downplays their importance…

    God bless and please keep on commenting…

  6. Wm David Tillman says:

    What a great starting point for empowering and equipping associate ministers in the church. Having served many years as an associate without specific training, I began to define my place, style and ministry independently. I was able by God’s Spirit to align with my pastor’s vision and direction but the danger of starting my own agenda was always there. As a senior pastor, I have done some of these things and seen fruit. I would add to the list a predictable or systematic evaluation or feedback process for associates. The occasional “good Job” or “why did you do that?” doesn’t really give an associate adequate opportunity for course corrections or improvement. Honest, open, and frequent feedback will enrich the relationship between pastor and associate as well as increase the quality of ministry from the associate. Love the site and the articles!!!

  7. Rev. Roberts says:

    Thank you, I think your comments are right on and helpful. For 2011, I plan on trying to implement some of your wonderful ideas.

  8. Min. Kenneth R. Jenkins says:

    As an Associate Minister, I thank you so much for putting together this audio because it helps me even now as I got through trainning.

  9. I really appreciate someone addressing this topic for it seems that it goes unnoticed and forgotten that at one time they to were associates. I feel that many Pastor’s are not mentors no more but want to do everything even though they have help by way of the associate ministers but they do not use them. Thank you for addressing this and giving us solutions!

  10. Carline Alexander says:

    I am a Minister in Training (MIT). And I am in the MIT classes at the church where I am a member. Also, we have a monthly clergy team meeting for all clergy.

    A term limitation on the assignments could be conveyed up front to deter ‘ownership’ of the assignment. Our church is moving in that direction.

    I humbly submit that when members (clergy or lay) are assigned to a task, there should be support for that task. The Sr. Pastor would be more helpful (in the overseeing process) if he would tell the MIT or lay person if there is no budget for the task. Sometimes the Sr Pastor’s vision is different from the person assigned. So the Sr. Pastor has to be very clear regarding the vision. For instance, it should be made clear if the pastor wants a full blown video ministry or if he only wants to audio tape his sermons. Some people are excited and get carried away with a task. And other times they just don’t know what the expectation is.

    If there are funds, then the appointee should be asked to submit a simple budget and work from it. It is always hard on everyone, though, when the initial communication does not go forth clearly enough so that the Sr. Pastor’s vision is understood. This is of course not the same situation as when the person does not respect the Sr Pastor’s vision. If the person disrespects the Sr. Pastor’s vision, then he or she should ultimately be replaced.

  11. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    This discussion has been beneficial I think…

    I do wish to emphasize as some of you are doing that in many cases we have failed on both sides. Sr. Pastors in far too many cases have not provided the direction and training that is needed by associates to become more effective…And associates, in many case, have not done their best work in the positions assigned to them by their senior pastor. I must admit that while an associate, I have seen many associates simply drop an assignment all together because it did not provide the “exposure” that the associate wanted. I have also seen associates attempt to abuse the position and use it as a platform to promote themselves. One time even abused the position to attempt to start another church altogether…

    So I understand that there is need for both sides to come together and see each others side and seek reconciliation for the good of the ministry that God has called us all to.

    But I do think that the lack of training given to associates in many cases is the large part of many problems…Train the associate….help the associate…and if the associate abuses the position or never walks into the training..then replace the associate….But it is past time for Sr. Pastors to stop ignoring the associate…

  12. Rev. J.I. Harris says:

    @Minister Harris: Folks put their money in the areas they value. If the church does not provide the money to support a particular ministry, they really don’t want it. PERIOD!!! If you do not have the necessary equipment at the church, then the church does not own this ministry. You are working as volunteer contractors providing services TO the church. You are not leaders of a ministry.

    Your efforts are well-intentioned, but misguided and unhealthy. You and your husband are being stressed, stretched, and underappreciated. This pastor says set a date, give notice of said date, and withdraw services.

    If the church wants the “ministry” to continue, the money will appear and the unrealistic guarantees regarding use of said funds will not be present.

  13. Rev. J.I. Harris says:

    @Rev. Roberts: I know you’re speaking truth about the perception of ministerial assignments. Part of the difficulty is in how such is presented. If it is established that assignments have a beginning and an ending, then the Associate knows that the assignment is not permanent. If, however, such is not made clear and the Associate finds themselves being moved without explanation, then one is likely to face rebellion.

    Too often, I have found in my organizational leadership and development ministry that Senior Pastors carry the “spiritual child” metaphor too far. They treat Associate Ministers as literal children with the expectation that they “jump” when told and ask “how high” on the way up. Associate ministers are not children. They are emerging professionals with a NEED to grow in the area of their calling. As such, they are owed clear instructions and helpful guidance. If the communication is muddied or inconsistent, such will be reflected in the results.

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