A while back I wrote an article on associate ministry and how we must support the worship service. You can find that link here. After reading some of the results from our 2010 survey, I found two things. First, many readers of SoulPreaching.Com are in an associate or assistant minister slot. Some are paid and many are unpaid. The majority are considered clergy by their denomination while others are considered lay people. In any case, these people have felt the call to ministry that often includes the call to preach. However, in many churches there is simply not enough opportunities to preach for all of the unpaid associates and assistants. Some senior pastors work to make opportunities for these assistants, while other senior pastors simply ignore the issue. I also found that many people wanted more help for those in associate ministry. I pray this article will help in that regard.
The problem is that people who feel a call to preach and are not given the opportunity to preach often cause problems for the congregation. They sometimes start to fight with other leaders desiring their preaching opportunities. Sometimes they turn every time they are in the pulpit into a preaching moment. So they are reading the scripture, they turn that into a sermon. They announce they hymn, and that is a sermon. Yes, one who feels the call to preach and never gets an outlet for that call will feel frustrated and often will take it out on the congregation, pastor, and the other church leaders.
I was talking the other day to an associate about this very problem. This associate noted that those of us who are in associate ministry must first and foremost recognize that our role is one of support. Support the senior pastor. Support the worship service. Support the congregation. Our role in church is to “plug the gaps.” You may not preach but once or twice a year in the church, but you must in your role at church “support.”
But in order to be successful in that support role, you must be allow the Holy Spirit to help you find your ministry that you can lead. This ministry will more than likely be outside of the walls of the church, but does not have to be. Successful associates have found that Nursing Home ministry can be a valid and powerful outlet for their ministry. There are many of our seniors who have no one to visit them and have no way of getting to church. Perhaps you can bring church to them.
Another important ministry is the Jail or prison ministry. There are tons of inmates who have come to the Lord as a result of someone bringing the church to them. As an associate whether paid or unpaid, in many cases, you are an ordained minister. That standing opens doors of service. People need to heard the word of truth even outside of the walls of the church.
Have you thought about working at a downtown mission? Many missions have worship services that need preachers. Those who find themselves in such situations really need to hear the word presented. I can remember that when I preached consistently in a downtown mission it totally transformed my preaching in very positive ways.
How about publishing ministry? Do you have a book in you? Can you help the people of God by preaching the word in book form? If God has called you to spread the word, maybe you can spread it through the “printed page.” Remember that books can go where you could not go otherwise.
I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly add the internet ministry. There are tons of ministers who use the internet to spread a word of Hope. I get emails from people who send a thought through email. I am Facebook friends with people who use their status updates to talk about God’s love. Twitter, blogs, etc. They all are opportunities for those who have been called.
I actually have a minister friend who started a radio program in his local area. He found sponsors and now he “preaches” over the airwaves every week. He did not wait for permission or an assignment, but simply went forth and God blessed.
By no means are these the only ministry opportunities. What you will find, however, is that when you are successfully doing God’s work outside the church, more opportunities for service inside the church will materialize. Dear associate, go do the work that God has called you to do and watch God open more doors.
Finally, wherever you are be a light. You are at work and someone needs hope. Someone needs the light of truth. Someone needs to know someone cares. You are speaking to relatives, allow God to speak through your words of comfort and hope and power. Let people know you are a minister by your reliance on God and the truth.
If you have been called to preach, preaching once or twice a year in a church does not fulfill your obligation. Don’t allow bitterness to overtake you. Whether your senior pastor opens the door or not, please find an outlet for your ministerial work. God will bless it, and the whole world will be edified.