Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Many people are called to become ministers. However, every minister is not called to become a pastor. Some churches have associate ministers who have been licensed to preach the gospel in addition to teaching and performing other assignments given by the pastor.
In some churches, associate ministers are not given certain tasks until they are ordained to do so based on the rules of the church, the denomination, and in some cases the state in which they reside. Ordained associate ministers can perform duties that those who are only associate ministers cannot do. Those activities might include serving communion, performing baptisms, officiating at weddings, and committing a body to the grave.
Keep in mind that all ministers are not pastors, and not all associate ministers are ordained. Some ministers have fulfilled the first step by only being licensed to preach the gospel.
Associate Minister: Definition
An associate minister is not the pastor of a church. Therefore, their jobs are very different. The associate minister has different duties and responsibilities depending on the church where he or she serves. The pastor is the shepherd of the church while the associate minister is a leader who sometimes bridges the gap between lay members and the pastor. An associate minister is sometimes referred to as an assistant minister, and their duties are about the same.
The main role of an assistant minister or associate minister is to help the pastor lead the church especially in the absence of the pastor. Depending on the church, associate ministers may have regular assignments, or they may perform any job given by the pastor to fill a need within the church.
Whenever associate ministers perform duties at other churches or in the community, they represent their own church.
Primary Functions of an Associate Minister
The primary functions of an associate minister are listed below.
An associate minister may preach on special occasions and when the pastor is absent. If there are several associate ministers at a church, the pastor may rotate the ministers so everyone will get a chance to preach. Associate members might be invited to preach at other churches. When they do that, they represent their home church.
The associate minister may be assigned to visit church members when they are in the hospital or recuperating at home. Associate ministers might also provide support to those who are grieving. Ministers should provide counseling services to church members only if they have been trained to do so.
Evangelism and Outreach
Most churches have evangelism and outreach teams. An associate minister doesn't have to be on either team to provide evangelism and outreach when needed. When a person goes to an associate minister outside the church, there is no need to tell the person to call someone on the team. It is encumbered upon all ministers to know how to answer questions and lead people to the Lord.
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Associate ministers may work closely with the Minister of Christian Education to help teach Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible Study. They might also teach to specified groups, such as youth, singles, married couples, and others on a short-term basis.
Associate ministers may help in areas that are not their assigned areas. It is rare, but associate minutes could be asked to help with church administrative duties. They also could fill in for other ministers in their absence. Associate ministers should help out in any capacity when needed without saying, "That's not my job."
There is nothing wrong with associate ministers having ministries outside their local assembly. In fact, some people might have had an outside ministry before they joined the church. It is courtesy to let the pastor know that. For instance, a minister had a neighborhood Bible Study in her house for many years for people who are not members of their church. It would be a selfish pastor to ask the minister to give it up.
Advice for Associate Ministers
Associate ministers are like understudies in a play or movie. They should be able to step in and serve at any time in any area of the church. Therefore, they should know about all or most of the leadership positions in the church even though they are not assigned to them. They should be ready to preach and teach "in season and out of season."
Associate ministers should be involved with other leaders and members of the church. They should not be limited to only their assigned area.
Associate ministers should maintain a servant’s spirit. Even though the pastor is the shepherd of the church, associate ministers should be watchful to see what areas they can serve members.
Associate ministers should stay in their lane. While they are there to help the pastor when needed, they are not the pastor. They should do willingly what they are asked to do.
Associate ministers should wait their turn to preach. They should not complain if the pastor gives an assignment to another minister when they think they should have gotten the assignment.
Associate ministers should remember that they are part of a team. They should be willing to assist the pastor and other ministers for the successful operation of the church. Among the things ministers should do is to remind the pastor of things that might have been forgotten in a leadership meeting but not in front of lay members.
It is most effective when associate ministers have the same vision as the pastor. If their visions are not the same, then it would be best for ministers to serve under another pastor whose vision is one they can embrace.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.