There's a great exchange in my favorite political-drama television show, where the Chief of Staff bought a pen as a graduation gift for the President's daughter upon her completing college. The senior staff as well as the Chief's assistant all asked the same question:
"Does it do other things?"
"No. It's just a really, good pen" replies the CoS.
Associate Pastor seems to be an elusive term... a catch-all perhaps in aiding wherever they can to the senior/lead/head pastor. Or depending on the church who only has 1 pastor to begin with, the title given to the"second in line" if you will.
A quick search on pastoral titles gave opportunity to read some interesting comments. Things like, why can't they just pastor? Denominations uses titles differently. What's with all the specialties? Is Worship Pastor someone simply getting paid to do what the Song Leader, back in the day, did for free? And so many more. Some light-hearted with a dose of sarcasm. Others... bothered, that perhaps all the titles are taking away from actually doing the work of the pastor.
Senior/Lead Pastor - traditionally, the original Pastor
Executive Pastor - handling church operational responsibilities
Community Pastor - handling congregational responsibilities such as small groups and/or community relations
Outreach Pastor - handling of evangelism opportunities and events
Teaching Pastor - handling of things like adult ed classes, discipleship, perhaps small groups
Campus Pastor - for multi-site churches
Of course, there is' Children's, Youth, College, Worship - self-explanatory
And who knows' what follows... after that, it probably could get somewhat narrowly focused as to responsibilities, whereby someone could question whether it "qualifies" as a Pastoral role.
To all that, as we pray for Pastors facing burnout, perhaps times have truly changed in the church world... that there is too much going on in the world and society for one sole man or woman to "handle" all the responsibilities of the church, do so effectively, while accurately and effectively preaching the Word of God.
That being the case, wisdom and discernment is all the more needed and required to be covered in prayer. As as I quoted John Maxwell yesterday; "the right person in the right place = progression; the right people in the right places = multiplication"
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for those Pastors struggling in their responsibilities, to effectively manage and handle the tasks and challenges they face. For the Associate who has become a "catch-all" pray for creativity and strength as they search for ways to gain traction and get help in finding solutions that will help them become more effective. For those overseeing very specific responsibilities, may they do that "one thing" (it's never literally just one) with excellence. Pray for wisdom and discernment for senior pastors and churches figuring out what works best for their congregation and community as to roles and responsibilities and the accompanying titles that should be filled.
May the work of the Lord, not be hindered by titles. May the body of Christ recognize the gifts and abilities of its' members and utilitze them accordingly... to do well, the building up of the church to impact the World for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.