How did we get here? Why are we evaluating this?
The Co-Pastor model has been emerging in mainline Protestant churches in recent years as the growth opportunities and challenges in churches have become more complex.
Rev. John Ross and Rev. Danielle Jones actually began looking into a co-leadership model in late 2020 and reached out to other churches that have used this model. Given John’s decision to retire, we have a unique opportunity to pursue this promising model of pastoral leadership. John, Danielle, and the current staff are very supportive of this model.
Why does the Church Council believe this is the best course of action for WCC?
We see several reasons why this may be the best model for our church. Coming out of the Strategic Planning Work led by Rev. Tod Bolsinger, it is clear there is great congregational interest in both maintaining and growing our strong ministries and programming including:
- Traditional, Modern, and Parables worship services
- Traditional and Modern music ministries and choirs
- Faith formation programs (nursery, elementary, middle school, high school, summer camp, and adult education)
- Mission and outreach programming (Rummage, Cranberry Ridge, Thimble Bees, Families Moving Forward, DOUGH, IDI)
- Pastoral care (providing spiritual and emotional care to our members during difficult times, our lay person led Called to Care ministry, WCC Mental Health ministry, etc.)
The clergy support required to maintain and grow the breadth and depth of our rich and vibrant ministries and programming is substantial. We believe having two senior co-pastors lead our church will greatly enhance our ability to meet the needs of a changing world.
We are blessed to already have half of our Co-Pastor team on board. Rev. Danielle Jones is a strong Pastoral Leader who is beloved by the church, respected by the staff and is committed to the possibilities of the Co-Pastor model. We plan to recruit a second Co-Pastor who will have complementary gifts and will work collaboratively with Danielle in support of our mission. By creating an equal partnership and removing the historical hierarchy, we will encourage a culture of collaboration that will improve our ability to meet the evolving needs of the church.
How will the Co-Pastors divide the responsibilities of pastoring?
Co-pastoring is a structure in which both pastors are equal partners, sharing authority and responsibilities. The Co-pastors will share in vision and worship leadership, and will specialize in other functional areas based on the needs of the church such as pastoral care, and generosity. Each pastor will oversee and support the boards and committees that are assigned to them. Core ministries of the church including faith formation for youth and adults, camp, mission and outreach, Parables and music will be overseen by one (or both) of the co-pastors.
In talking with other Co-Pastor teams, they indicated that their specific job duties have changed frequently over the years as the ministries and priorities of the church have changed. By working collaboratively, they have aligned their pastoral and management gifts with the evolving needs of the church.
What are the benefits and challenges of Co-Pastoring?
- Each co-pastor has a built-in sounding board which cuts down on isolation and allows budding ideas to be more thoroughly thought-through before they are acted upon. It also means that at least two minds are always at work on problems that pop up.
- Co-pastors can be in two places at any one time. Ministers often feel like there is not enough of them to go around. With co-pastors, the hospital visit and the committee meeting can be covered simultaneously.
- Pastors can harness their strengths and passions, and not labor in areas that do not come naturally to them. It is very possible to find co-pastors who are good at different things. Thus, more ministry areas are covered with greater competence, and church ministries and programs are brought on par with one another.
- Equal partnership cultivates an environment of creative thinking, innovation, and collaboration.
- Shared responsibilities reduces burnout of pastors.
- Adjustment from those who are used to a different model of leadership
- Potential incompatibility of future pastors
With trust in God, we believe flexibility, adaptability, willingness to try new things, and grace will go a long way in helping us move into a new model of pastoral leadership. As the congregation lives into this new model, the Executive Committee and Church Council will review and evaluate it regularly, working closely with the co-pastors to delegate responsibilities and seeking feedback from the congregation.
What is the anticipated impact to our annual operating budget?
Our philosophy will be to compensate each minister equitably based on their experience and qualifications. We believe that we will be able to attract strong Co-Pastor applicants while providing compensation for the two Co-Pastor positions that is within our current operating budget.
How does this Co-Pastor model affect the ongoing Associate Pastor search?
The Search Committee leading this effort has developed a position profile based on the ministry priorities and needs of the church. Those priorities will not change due to John Ross’ retirement, as they are priorities that have been affirmed by the congregation and led by the staff with support from lay volunteers. Initially, the Associate Pastor will report to Rev. Danielle Jones. However, this could change over time as the needs and priorities of the church change and we align clergy gifts with those priorities.
What are the next steps in moving this Co-Pastor model forward?
Per the congregational announcement the week of July 12th, a Search Committee has been formed to hire our next Pastoral leader. The Church Council voted in late June to move forward with the Co-Pastor model. We will have Q&A sessions with the congregation following worship services on Sundays, July 18 and August 1. In addition, we will schedule a Zoom call for members who are unable to join one of the in-person Q&A sessions.
The Search Committee will develop the position profile and begin their work to review applicants this summer. While the timetable is uncertain, we currently estimate the second Co-Pastor will be hired in the first quarter of 2022.
What do I do if I have questions about the Co-Pastor relationship?
We encourage everyone to bring forward their questions and feedback regarding this potential change. We encourage you to check these pages of our website often for updates. You can also email the church leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org