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Discussion in 'General discussions' started by larryjf, Jan 19, 2007.
What's the difference between an Associate and an Assistant pastor?
In the PCA an Associate Pastor is called and voted on by the congregation. An Assistant Pastor is called by the Session and does not have to be voted on by the congregation.
Are both members of the session or only the associate pastor?
Would both have the same responsibilities?
Are there advantages/disadvantages in either?
In the PCA (see BCO 22), the distinction is as follows:
1) Associate pastors are called by the church as the congregation at large, are brought on staff as regular session members, and assist the primary Teaching Elder.
2) Assistant pastors are called by the church as the session, they are not members of session and so do not rule the congregation, and they also assist the primary pastor and session.
Both Associates and Assistants are to be ordained men, and are members of Presbytery. Sometimes churches call men who are appointed to staff positions like "youth pastor" or other, and are called "assistant pastors;" but by the BCO, those are NOT true pastoral relations, because they are not called by the church, examined and approved by Presbytery.
Temporary relations of pastors to sessions are known as "Stated Supply," usually created in transition periods between solo/sr. pastors at a given church. These men serve similarly to an Assistant, not being on the session, but at the request of the session. They typically moderate session meetings, but do not vote (rule) over the congregation.
Real world example: myself. I'm an Assistant pastor at my church. As of January (sr. pastor retired) I am now Stated Supply at my church. My relation to this session or congregation has not fundamentally changed, except that I am temporarily the regular preacher and tasked with all the regular pastoral duties of a sr. pastor. And I also moderate the session meetings, but not as a member (as is also the case with most Stated Supply ministers brought in from outside the church).
When (or possibly before) the new sr. pastor is called, I will step out of the Stated Supply role. In fact, I should be moving on (someplace) to another call, D.V.
Responsibilities vary for either according to the terms of the call accepted.
Adv/disa. may depend on the needs of the church/pastor/session.
Assistants don't have to be appealling to the congregation at large (i.e. 51% minimum), which might help a large church bring someone on staff who is going to have a specialized ministry (say, to the elderly). This man will not rule the congregation at large, but the session thinks he should be a TE for the work he is doing.
An Associate is a position of greater general responsibility than an Associate, because he is a ruling session member. So, in a real sense, the congregation ordinarily has an advantage (hopefully no regrets) in having chosen a certain man.
Thank you Contra_Mundum. That last post of yours really cleared it up for me.
Its interesting the the OPC does not have these positions per their BCO.
The OPC classifies their TEs as either evangelists, pastors, or teachers; I suppose an 'evangelist' could be closest to an associate pastor, though I know at least one OP congregation had a teacher assisting the pastor, and several OPCs have 'associate' pastors who are simply pastors with the junior title. I don't think there's an OP equivalent to an assistant pastor.
The OPC does have Associate Pastors, and there is reference in their BCO to them, but not in those early chapters that define the officers in the church. Check out the "Pastoral Relations" chapter.
The OPC Teacher and Evangelist, as well as the Pastor, are all functional exercises of one office, the Minister's.
Bruce, can I just send my posts to you directly to correct before I post them?
I must be blind, I don't see a "Pastoral Relations" chapter in my BCO.
Just to clarify, assistant pastors are not called by the congregation, but they are examined and approved by Presbytery, just as other grades of pastors.
Tom, thank you; taken altogether, I think I was fairly clear.
I meant to explain the failure of some churches to speak accurately.
And I am an Assistant Pastor, and have been examined and ordained by Presbytery, a living example of "things done decently and in order."
Beej, woooah now...