Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend and the Sunday between Christmas and New Year could all be labeled “Associate Pastor Sunday (APS).” As a former associate pastor I very much enjoyed the opportunity to preach. I was blessed to preach throughout the year and not just on those Sundays above (though I did many APS). However, I never had the opportunity on Easter. I’d guess that over 99% of our churches will have their senior pastor in the pulpit that day.
I get it, it’s the SuperBowl of Sundays for the church. Naturally a lead pastor wants the opportunity to deliver the message, but it could prove to be a fantastic opportunity to send a different message. If yours is a church that values mentoring, discipleship and development of gifts and skills then having someone other than the senior pastor preach would send a very clear message that these are in fact your values!
As the title suggests, not many senior pastors will likely read this, but if they did I’d ask:
- Did these same people hear you preach the same or similar message last year?
- If the Easter sermon is about a clear presentation of the gospel, is there someone on your staff who would share that same message as clearly as you think you will? Perhaps there is someone on your staff that is quite-active/gifted in evangelism?
- If you were not the “upfront” person all service would you be freed up to enter relationship with those visiting?
In addition, I think giving up the pulpit on Easter Sunday would send a pretty cool message to those you regularly shepherd the other 51 weeks outside of Easter.
- You’d model Psalm 78:1-8 (passing the teaching from one generation to the next, so they may pass it on, etc.).
- You’d clearly state that it’s the message that matters and not the messenger.
- You’d model to your staff that they too should be looking to shepherd others into using their gifts/skills.
Of course there are many other benefits to think about as well, especially for the visitors that day, but I’ll leave these out there for thought and imagination!
My prayer is that even one senior pastor will read this and instead of dismissing it as a rant of a former associate pastor they’d read this as a call from a congregant saying “I want to see us be more proactive in developing and releasing people for ministry!” Maybe a senior pastor WILL give an associate that Sunday. Perhaps a lead pastor will tag-team the sermon?
Consider the potential cost…
…But then consider the potential ministry windfall!