A Co-Pastor is a term that usually describes the role of a spouse who is serving in leadership alongside their mate, a Lead Pastor.
Typically the spouse of a Lead Pastor is a woman, but I think it is important to recognize there are occasions where God calls a woman to be the Lead Pastor. There are also occasions where a pastor is not married. Having acknowledged that, please understand I am writing this blog as a wife who is married to a Lead Pastor.
For years, wives have served in ministry alongside their husband with the title “pastor’s wife.” Today the term Co-Pastor is more commonly used. The description of a Co-Pastor is as varied as the women in that role. Some Co-Pastors are designed and called by God to preach, teach, or publicly speak. Some are made to lead areas of ministry, to develop and maintain systems, to recruit and manage volunteers, and to stimulate health and growth of a team. Some are involved in committees to provide care for church members, nurturing people who are going through difficulty. Some sing, some play an instrument, and some show artistic talent. Others are administrative, technical, given to details, and much more.
There are many variables, but at the foundation of the role, the Co-Pastor has the responsibility to spiritually care for the church alongside her husband. She may be visibly involved, or she may be involved behind the scenes. Whatever her involvement beyond that foundation, she should have the freedom to function as the Holy Spirit leads her, and as her husband, the Pastor, supports her.
I think we should recognize that ministry differs from a profession. It is spiritual. It is supernatural. The church gives instruction and example for living. It gives ministry to families. It provides oversight of ministries for both men and women. As such, the role of the Co-Pastor, or Pastor’s wife, is not only to support their spouse as a spiritual leader; but also to serve alongside the Lead Pastor in caring for their flock.
The following are five examples of the purpose God has for the role of the Co-Pastor:
1. A Co-Pastor is a capable partner to her husband in life and in ministry. God created women to be a leader in life (Genesis 1:28). He designed her with strength and abilities to be a pillar that can be leaned upon without fear of bending or breaking. She should have the liberty to serve God and her husband as the woman and minister that God has called her to be.
2. A Co-Pastor has her husband’s back. No one will be as committed to a husband as his wife. She will not only care for him, but she will also do all she can to assist and protect him. Hopefully she will do so with spiritual maturity to act with wisdom, compassion, and discretion.
3. A Co-Pastor is a gateway for other women to connect in ministry. When the Co-Pastor is in her position and confident of her role, there is freedom for other women to find their place in ministry.
4. A Co-Pastor is an example of the strength and support of teamwork. In their strength and gifting, Co-Pastors can demonstrate the honor that someone on the team should have for the Lead Pastor.
5. A Co-Pastor gives another perspective that enhances the effectiveness of ministry. Because of the differences in people, it is a blessing when we have diversity in our leadership, including the female perspective.
There is a phrase that I love, “Dance like everyone is watching, and show them how it’s done.” God hasn’t called any of us to hide or withdrawal from His calling. He wants us to know His voice, honor our authority, serve with the team, and give ministry our all. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!