Some churches decide two preachers, or even three, are better than one
“It helps keep down the ego and fosters a sharing mindset,” Robertson said. “And there is more flexibility to travel and feel good about what’s happening ‘back home.’”
The North Boulevard church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., adopted the method last year. David Young left the Overland Park, Kan., church to join John Risse at North Boulevard.
Young’s addition to the church staff “has renewed me in that it has given me more time to study, contemplate and pray over sermons,” Risse said. “It has also allowed me to do more of the pastoral and evangelistic work I love to do.”
At the Edmond, Okla., church, senior minister Don Vinzant, associate minister Kent Risley and family life minister Randy Roper each preach about one-third of the time.
Roper said the approach, which the 1,000-member congregation has used since 2001, adds variety.
“It’s kind of like not eating Corn Flakes every morning for breakfast,” he said.
‘FRESH IDEAS, REST AND RENEWAL’
Rotating preachers — each possessing a unique technique and approach to the pulpit — allows the church to reach out to a broader audience, Roper said.
“We come from three different perspectives, with three different styles, three different personalities and three different backgrounds,” he said of the Edmond ministers. “So, when you have that kind of diversity, you have a better chance of reaching more people.”
In Abilene, North describes the structure of Baker Heights’ shared ministry responsibilities as beneficial for both the ministers and the congregation. The co-ministers often co-teach Bible classes and sometimes even preach together.
Roper said the method provides an element of originality for the Edmond church.
“One of the things that has helped us maintain somewhat of an edge, maybe a little bit of freshness, is that we don’t have to preach every single week,” he said.
Neither does the same minister preach Sunday morning and Sunday night. “I think using multiple preachers can create an environment for fresh ideas, rest and renewal,” Roper said.
Despite the advantages, dual ministry presents potential problems, ministers said. “Trust is important, and I am sure that if two guys ever had real trouble with each other, then that could be devastating for a church,” Robertson said. “That said, I really do think it will work more, especially if the colleges and preaching schools would begin introducing the idea in the training, and more churches would do what White’s Ferry Road has done and give it a try.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF CHEMISTRY
Roper said that chemistry between the co-ministers must exist for the method to function properly. “The potential is there, depending on the personalities involved, for divisiveness,” he said. “I think one other possible disadvantage could be when you have multiple voices from the pulpit, it becomes more difficult to cast a unified vision.”
Dave Bland, a professor of homiletics at Harding University Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tenn., serves as a co-preacher at the White Station church. He sees many advantages and possible disadvantages to the approach.
“Sometimes, the problem is that people might gravitate to one preacher or the other, creating the potential for disunity,” he said. “There’s also the potential for watering down a focus or vision for the church. In addition, coordinating sermons also becomes more complex.”
But at the White’s Ferry Road church, Robertson said he has few complaints.
“I love it and feel that it has really added to my effectiveness,” he said. “Sometimes, you have to explain why you have two preachers to folks. We always joke, ‘At White’s Ferry Road, we have two preachers for the price of … two preachers!’”