Pastoring a church with a co-lead can be a great blessing for the pastors, staff, and church. Sharing the responsibilities and bringing more strengths and gifts to the table is healthy. In any kind of relationship there needs to be tools of protection and accountability set in place so that relationships and the health of the team and church can grow and thrive. Andrew Scheribel with Citylight Fort Collins offers these three time-tested covenants.
1. Never speak poorly of your co-lead pastor to anyone else and never allow anyone to speak poorly of your co-lead pastor to you.
If someone comes to you and is venting about your co-lead, say, “Hey, I actually have this covenant with my co-lead to never speak poorly of him or to allow others to speak about him to me… I’d encourage you to take this difficulty directly to them.”
This should include your spouse. Of course, our marriage is a safe space to process and be real. However, honor your co-lead in this space as well. This will guard your marriage, guard your own heart, and guard your co-lead relationship.
Have consistent touch points with Gospel friendships outside of your church and marriage that are safe spaces to process. Most of your community will be within church, and it’s necessary to have relationships outside of it to process.
2. Empty the cup daily.
Simply meaning, keep short accounts. Emotions may want to get in the way and we may think “I shouldn’t feel this way, so I am not going to share it.” It doesn’t matter if you “should or shouldn’t feel it.” You do, and we are emotional human beings, so be real about it so that it does not create dissonance in your relationship.
Also, know when to share and use the 24 hour rule. Sometimes you might wonder, am I just tired? Does this really need to be shared? While it’s important to follow the “letter of the law” and not just “the spirit of the law,” meaning, actually aim to do it daily. Sometimes sleeping it off with a good quiet time and with prayer is needed. If it is still bothers you after 24 hours, it needs to be shared.
Take note if you see a pattern. Something that seems to be a recurring “trigger point” needs to be addressed. For example – ideas being heard, even if not affirmed.
3. Debate passionately on anything you disagree with and then own the mutual decision as if it were your own.
When an idea goes south, do not say, “This was my co-leads idea…”
When my co-lead and I had to communicate a mask mandate, we leaned in slightly different directions. We disagreed graciously, humbly heard one another, landed in the middle, and then owned the decision together.
If you don’t disagree on the front end, you will be inclined to hold bitterness or frustration on the back end.
Andrew Scheribel, co-lead Pastor