Thursday, April 02, 2009

What the heck do Associate Pastors do?

I get that question quite often these days, especially here in the Silicon Valley - a place where people have almost no understanding of Christianity or church work (95% unchurched).  

What is the role of an Associate Pastor in the context of church-planting?  I'm still trying to figure out this answer and I'm sure it differs with each team, plan, and cultural context - but I'll start by listing some of the things I've had to do and roles I've had to fulfill in the last 6 months of our church planting journey (all you other associate guys will relate to this).  You might find this humorous:
  1. SECRETARY: I printed, cut, and folded thousands of church bulletins, flyers, connection cards...  Entered hundreds of names in databases...  
  2. GRAPHIC ARTIST: I designed dozens of banners, signs, promotional cards, t-shirts, stickers, door-hangers...
  3. BUSINESS: I had to open bank accounts, prepare and file Articles of Incorporation, get our Tax ID number, Bulk Mailing Permit, Non-Profit certificate, EDD State Tax number...
  4. ACCOUNTANT: I had to prepare budget sheets, learn Quickbooks, collect Expense Reports, reimburse employees for expenses, figure out California tax laws...
  5. ADMINISTRATOR: I created forms, filed papers, purchased signs, printers, software...
  6. COUNSELOR: I met with dozens of fun people, mad people, confused people, broken people... 
  7. DISCIPLER: I worked hard to develop leaders, lead Bible studies, invest in others...
  8. EVENT PLANNER: I helped plan cookouts, bowling nights, movie nights, launch team meetings, volunteer celebrations...
  9. TEACHER: I taught a weekly Bible study for guys, weekly Bible study for seekers,  and one Sunday morning...
  10. VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR: I recruited volunteers and helped develop a system of scheduling and training dozens of them...
  11. MISSION COORDINATOR: I helped coordinate 4 or 5 mission teams they came from partner churches to serve our church and community.
  12. SMALL GROUPS PASTOR: Just starting this role now, but definitely not an easy task.
  13. ASSIMILATION: Helped people find the right place to serve and get involved in the life of the church.  Followed up with 1st time guests, 2nd time guests, those interested in small group, volunteering, baptism...
Now that you read all that, I must point out a few side notes:
  1. Just cause I did all that, does not mean I did all those things well.
  2. Many of the tasks/roles were my responsibilities, but got done with the combined effort of team-work.
  3. Our whole team had to do massive amounts of work with no office.  My office desk is in my living room, with 2 little kids running around me!
  4. On top of not having an office, we also did not have much storage.  This led to us having tons of boxes all over our houses.
  5. Doing all the above tasks is ultimately not the ideal role of an Associate Pastor, but in the the church-planting journey, you often have to do much more than only what you're good at.  
  6. Being a husband and dad is my primary concern (and joy), so prioritizing the family in the midst of the demands of work is hard, but essential.
  7. People often don't realize how important the wife is in the life of a pastor.  God blessed me with the most amazing wife - she has been so patient, encouraging, and supportive during this season.  I couldn't have accomplished much without her.
I must say that though I feel pretty exhausted right now, there is nothing I'd rather be doing. We've seen so many lives get transformed with the power of God.  We've seen people find hope, peace, and fulfillment for the 1st time in their lives!  The journey is very hard, but the cause is more than worth it.  
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