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How Churches Benefit from Co-Pastors

One couple’s story of leaning into their unique gifts and callings as they lead together

Robin had good role models from whom she learned strength and perseverance. Her mother worked full-time while raising Robin and her brother through a season of single motherhood. Her grandmother was college-educated at a time when few women were getting degrees.

Marty also had strong mentors who demonstrated women in leadership and a shared division of male-female labor. For instance, Marty’s mom, who worked full-time, taught him to iron when he was young and would leave simple notes for him and his sister regarding household chores she expected done.

Robin and Marty have needed that strength, as the overall church culture acclimates and normalizes the still-new co-pastoring dynamic. “I’ve been in places where there’s the half-hearted joke, ‘Oh that was a good sermon … for a girl,’” said Robin. On the other hand, “We are shown a lot of grace from our congregation.” Robin cites the charitable attitude her congregation presents in response to her natural family ups and downs, like when their kids misbehave in church. “This church is a special place,” said Robin. “We’ve deepened relationships over time, but the church was really quite open to both of us from the very beginning. They see us walking together in faith as an important task of the church.”

As their church has grown accustomed to having co-pastors, Robin and Marty have grown in their own comfort level. “Early on, you want to prove yourself, and I no longer feel like we have to do that,” said Marty.

Today, the congregation they serve is thriving under their leadership, and Marty and Robin have settled into doing the good work that is made better with two. Despite negative statistics about the church in America, Robin and Marty are optimistic. As Robin put it, “Where we are right now is forcing us to think creatively and reimagine what church might be.” Co-pastoring is part of that. “There is simply more creativity to go around with two leaders instead of one,” said Robin. “There’s more creative energy. Even God is a Trinity and not a solo CEO.”

“From the beginning, we thought this would be the dream,” said Marty, and it’s proven true. They’ve found an ease with which to carry out their unique gifts and callings, and the congregation is benefitting in great ways.

Janelle Alberts’ writing shines a lighthearted spotlight on Bible character plotlines and trending pop culture train wrecks. Prophets and prime time could not look further apart, until things get personal, in which case, we all have a lot more in common than we thought. Alberts tackles this concept for parenting and faith publications, and can be found at www.janellealberts.wordpress.com


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