I have been an assistant for much of my time in ministry. Some pastors have treated me with the utmost respect. I have seen other pastors who treat their assistants almost as slaves, giving them the least desirable jobs and neglecting acknowledgment of the work that they do.
Senior pastors should note that they are not the only ones who are giving their time and energies to the church. Many of these assistants are in part time situations sometimes they are not even be paid at all. But these assistants finish their work in industry and then come to ministry to seek to give their talents to God.
There are, in my estimation, three steps that a senior minister must follow if that minister is to have effective assistant ministers.
Step 1: Respect Your Assistants
There are many senior pastors who show by the way that they treat their assistants that they do not respect them. In my position as Web Minister of SoulPreaching.Com I often hear stories and get emails from assistants who have been treated with less than respect from the senior pastor. One pastor simply canceled an ordination on the day of the ordination for some silly reason. The ordinate had people in town and was in a very embarrassing situation.
Another senior pastor kicked off a special initiative where his assistants were to take on some significant ministry responsibilities. At the prayer of initiation, the senior pastor prayed “even though they ain’t nothing but assistants, one day they may be senior ministers.” Belittling the work of those who work 40-50 hours and then attempt to give some time to the church is not the way to respect your assistants.
Step 2: Acknowledge your Assistants Work
Another step to effective assistants is to acknowledge their work. This includes both acknowledgment of the assistants work and the assistant who did the work. I remember working on starting a new ministry in a church. The pastor emphasized that the new ministry had been started, but he never acknowledged that I was the one who did the work. Sometimes the pastor will argue…you did it for God and not for man, therefore God will acknowledge you. This may be true, but it is the utmost of disrespect to acknowledge the work and ignore the worker. It is a shame when God has to find some other person beside the senior minister to praise the work of an assistant. Ignore your assistants too many times and you may have less help in your next big ministry thrust.
Step 3: Utilize your Assistants
One final thing you must do to have an effective cadre of assistant ministers is that you must utilize them. This means that you determine what your assistants can do, and you use them in that ministry. Underutilized and/or non utilized assistant ministers will be a cause of strife and contention in the church. Ultimately, your group of assistants are resources that God has given your church. If you fail to utilize them, you are failing in your stewardship of one of the greatest gifts to your church.
5 thoughts on “Three Steps to Effective Assistant Ministers”
I TOTALLY AGREE. I HAVE BEEN AN ASSISTANT FOR MUCH OF MY “MINISTRY”. I DON’T EVEN WANT TO CALL IT A MINISTRY BECAUSE I AM ALMOST ASHAMED TO SAY I AM ON THE ROSTER.
FIRST, THIS MAN HAS NEVER PASTORED OR EVEN ASSISTANT PASTORED BEFORE. HE WAS JUST A MUSICIAN IN HIS FATHER’S CHURCH. WHEN HIS FATHER PASSED, THE CHURCH WENT TO ONE OF HIS OLDER BROTHERS SO HE WAS STILL JUST A MUSICIAN. SOME OF HIS FRIENDS AND A FEW CHURCH MEMBERS GAVE HIM THE CHURCH WHEN OUR ORIGINAL PASTOR PASSED. I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT, BUT I DO BELIEVE WITH WHATEVER ELSE A “PASTOR” HAS OR DOES NOT HAVE, HE MUST HAVE A HEART FOR THE PEOPLE. HE NOT ONLY DISREGARDS THE FOUR OF US ON THE MINISTRY STAFF BY EXCLUYDING US FROM MEETINGS, OR PLANNING, OR ANYTHING REALLY. WE’RE JUST THERE TO OPEN UP WHILE HE IS UPSTAIRS IN THE OFFICE, OTHERWISE THAT’S ALL WE ARE TO DO, UNLESS HE SAYS WE CAN SPEAK FOR ONE OF THE TWO SERVICES. BUT AS OF JANUARY, HE SAID ONLY HE WILL BE SPEAKING UNLESS HE BRINGS IN A FRIEND OR ONE OF HIS BROTHERS OR BROTHER IN LAW. NOT ONLY DO WE NOT SPEAK, BUT WE DON’T WORK WITH ANY AUXILLIARY AND DO NO PROGRAMS OR OUTREACH IN THE COMMUNITY. MANY SAY HE IS JUST YOUNG. HE IS 40 YEARS OLD AND SHOULD HAVE LEARNED SOME PEOPLE SKILLS IN THAT TIME. HE USES THE PULPIT TO TALK ABOUT PEOPLE, TO PROMOTE HIMSELF AND PLEASE TELL ME HOW IS IT A PASTOR IS GREATER THAN THE PRESIDENT? BECAUSE HE CAN PREACH THE PRESIDENTS FURNERAL? WHAT? THIS IS JUST ONE OF THE PEDESTALS THIS MAN IS PUTTING HIMSELF ON. ANOTHER ONE IS HOW HE THINKS ON A HIGHER LEVEL THAN 99% OF THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH, ANOTHER, HE CANNOT BE TOUCHED SINCE HE HAS BEEN SICK BECAUSE GOD HAS PUT HIM IN A SPECIAL PLACE. I DON’T BELIEVE GOD HAS PUT HIM IN ANY SPECIAL PLACE. I THINK HE RECEIVED A WARNING TO GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE BECAUSE PRIDE GOES BEFORE A FALL. I HAVE TRIED FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS NOT TO BE CRITICAL, BUT THIS MAN IS JUST RUDE. I SUGGESTED TO HIM HOW A SHEPHERD HAS TO BE A SHEPHERD FOR ALL THE SHEEP NOT JUST SOME. I WAS TOLD TO LEAVE THE CHURCH AND YELLED AT AND TOLD WHAT I THOUGHT WAS BULL S**T. THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DEACON BOARD JUST SAT THERE AND ACTED LIKE HE WAS SCARED. ONE THING I ABSOLUTELY ABHOR ABOUT THIS MAN IS THT HE TAKES OTHER PEOPLES WORK FOR HIS OWN AND HE DOESN’T WANT ANYONE TO KNOW AS MUCH OR MORE THAN HE DOES. NONE OF US TRY TO UNDERMINE HIM; WE ALL TRY TO SUPPORT HIM. HE TRIES TO IMPRESS PEOPLE WITH HIS B.A. DEGREE IN MUSIC. NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING. WE KNOW WHO HAS WHAT. I PERSONALLY HAVE A PH.D. IN PRACTICAL THEOLOGY BUT I DON’T MENTION THAT. I FEEL IT HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH MY ACTUALLY PREACHING THE GOSPEL AND HELPING PEOPLE. IT WAS JUST TRAININING ON MY PART AFTER I WAS CALLED TO THE MINISTRY. ONE OF THE MINISTERS WILL BE LEAVING IN JUNE THIS YEAR. TWO DECIDED THEY WERE THERE BEFORE HIM AND WILL WAIT HIM OUT. I HAVE DECIDED I AM TOO OLD AND DON’T HAVE TIME IN MY LIFE TO WASTE. I FEEL AN URGENCY TO MOVE AND DO. THE DAY HE TOLD ME TO GET OUT WAS THE VERY DAY I HAD MY COAT AND WAS WALKING OUT THE DOOR NEVER TO RETURN ANY MORE. THEN THE DEACON STOPPED ME AND SAID HE WANTED TO TALK TO ME…THATS WHEN HE TOLD ME TO LEAVE. NOW, I AM CONSIDERING WHETHER I HAVE BEEN CONSTRAINED BY GOD FOR A PURPOSE OR DETAINED BY SATAN TO THWART MY PURPOSE. I AM STILL THERE, BUT ALL I WANT TO DO IS HURRY UP AND “GET OUT OF DODGE!!” I KNOW THIS IS LONG BUT THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO COMPLAIN. MOST ASSISTANTS DON’T SPEAK UP BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IT IS COMPLAINING. I ONCE PRAYED HE GET BETTER. NOW MY PRAYER IS FOR GOD TO MOVE ME FROM THAT CHURCH.
Yes, I agree with the three steps to follow to cultivate rising assistants. We, as pastors should not disregard the potential of our assistants. Because they are the probable next in line in the church hierarchy. We got to cultivate, nurture them as Jesus Christ led his new disciples into what it is like into the ministry. Besides, we should have the probable successor of your job well rehearsed. Although the appointing authority of pastors differ from one church to another.
One of the things we have to keep in mind is that it is not our ministry in the first place! The ministry is the Lord’s. I get disturbed hearing preachers always talking about “their ministry.” In fact that’s what it is “their ministry” and not the Lord’s.
As far as associates goes many associates feel that they should be pastoring simply because they have stated they have been called. The fact remains is that God does not call every preacher to a pastoring role.
A lot of complaints from associates is the result of ego! All of us as preachers, especially pastors need to come down off of the high horse we ride sometimes1! It is not about us! It is the associate ministers job to ask the pastor for guidance/help, and understand that we do not have unlimited time to spend with them because there are other members of the church who are demanding our time as well. Many associates want to be catered too. Many do not study or take the necessary steps to prepare themselves for use by the Master (the Lord). Many associates need to drop the sense of entitlement they carry around like a badge. How many associates look for ways to support not only the church, but the pastor in his attempts to fulfill the charge God has given him. Being an associate is not a disgrace, but an opportunity to show your faithfulness.
Right, wrong or indifferent, it is not the associates job to tell the pastor what he is doing wrong! In fact who gives you the authority? What a pastor needs is to be prayed for not prayed about! I am not saying that a pastor is right when he doesn’t use his associates, because he should, and any good pastor does; but in reality he does not have to allow anyone the opportunity to preach. He is the undershepherd and the one charged by God to “feed the flock of God.” And the lack thereof the Lord will take care of him and it!
I need to add her that I have been extremely blessed with three good associates. One is ordained and the other two are licensed, and in time they all will be licensed. Each has a role to fulfill each service, and the responsibilities rotate. One issue I had with some former associates is the fact that they did not give tithes or offerings, even when they were given a love offering for preaching at home. I decided a few years ago that the best thing to do for an associate who preaches at his home church is not to give them a love offering, but instead bible study software and instruction on how to use it for growth as a believer and a preacher. I pick out what software they need to help them develop exegetical/expository messages. Every associate at church is well versed in what is required of him by the Lord, and when they go out to preach there are no reports of them being unprepared. I will often put one up to preach at home without much prior notice. The idea is that they should be working on sermons every week, and not just when called on to preach.
The principle of Luke 16:10-13 can also be applied when it comes to approaching ministry. “Be faithful,” and any good God-called pastor will be more than happy to use you!
Finally, I will say to associates everywhere: pay particular attention to verse 12 of Luke 16.
I pray that God will intervene and set things in order!
Thanks for the reply from a Senior Pastor’s Perspective. I just want to add a few things. First, often when someone says “my ministry” or “your ministry” they are using the term as shorthand for “The ministry that God performs through me.” Or “The ministry that God has equipped me to perform.” Ultimately the ministry is not owned by the minister, I think most would agree and see this as an issue of semantics. Perhaps you are right, maybe we shouldn’t use such terminology…But I am not convinced that use of that terminology means that the one using it believes that they control or own that ministry. But I could be wrong on that, any help from others would be appreciated.
Second, wow…a love offering for local associates. I have not really though of it and have never received one as a local associate. I have only received such things as a guest preacher. I don’t think a love offering or any compensation is required for a local associate. But perhaps I haven’t put much thought into that…
Third, I think that what you are saying is true, there are associates who are arrogant and have an entitlement mentality. However, I would argue that there are many more who are untrained and underutilized. Perhaps it isn’t the associates job to correct the senior pastor. This is why I did this article. To hopefully let senior pastors know how they can help their associates. I do recognize and also teach the responsibilities of the associate, which are in another post or audio close to this one.
Well you have obviously put a lot of thought into your post and I would like to turn it into a full post if possible. Let me know…and God bless..
Great Article! Three Step to Effective Assistant Ministry…….
I think expectations and duties should be given by the Sr. Pastor in writing and reviewed as needed. Why are we so willingly to have evaluations on jobs and not in the Lord’s House?