The Second Man in Ministry -- By: Mark Schmitz

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 03:2 (Fall 1999)
Article: The Second Man in Ministry
Author: Mark Schmitz

The Second Man in Ministry

Mark Schmitz

Senior Pastor, Summit Baptist Bible Church
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Zach sat on the bench with the other men watching the men’s outreach tournament, awaiting his turn to play. He didn’t personally know a majority of the men on his team but enjoyed the opportunity to rub shoulders with the “unchurched” in First Baptist outreach events like this one. As an assistant pastor he had limited acquaintances outside the church family, for most were folks regularly serving in his ministry area. While sitting on the bench, he struck up conversation with Ward, an investment banker. After initial small talk and introductions, the conversation got down to the sociable question, “So, what do you do?” Zach shared his vocation, an assistant pastor at First Baptist. Ward’s questions followed, concluding with the recurring request, “So, when will you move up and get your own church?” Zach answered in the usual way to this recurrent question but shuddered deep down, wondering why so many people ask this same question of him. “Is the senior pastorate the only measure of success in ministry?” he thought. “What does that say about the men who never take that position?”

Innumerable Christian publications have produced volumes of books on leadership. It is a hot subject in this time of emphasis on church growth. Clearly, leadership is essential in order for churches to grow and be productive, but the questions must be asked, “What about the ones who must follow? What is to be said for the man who works in support of the pastor who leads? What are the issues faced by this man who is second in command in the leadership chain?”

As Christian colleges and seminaries continue the work of producing men fit for the gospel ministry, it seems vital to consider what is communicated to these men. Most schools convey a perspective that identifies the primary desirable ministry role as that of senior pastor. This is surely in keeping with the objectives of Scripture where Romans 10:15 and 2 Timothy 4:2 stress preaching or proclaiming the Word and where 1 Timothy 3:1–7

pronounces pastoral leadership qualities .The fact is that the majority of men concluding their training may be inadequately prepared or experientially unskillful to enter senior pastoral positions. They may find themselves beginning their life ministry in some support or assistant role. The opportunity may come on a large church staff, as the assistant or second man in a small church, o...

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