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Published Date: September 5, 2001

Published Date: September 5, 2001

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Churches Discover Co-Pastor Model

It’s not what most pastor search committees are looking for when they begin: a husband and wife who want to be joint, equal pastors of the same congregation. Yet, it is proving to be a successful model — both for the churches who take the risk and for the couples willing to work to make it happen.

“When we started our process, we were open to anything,” says Marinn Bengel, chair of the committee that brought Russ and Amy Jacks Dean to Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte last October. “But actually it had never occurred to us to consider a team. We didn’t even know how to interview them.”

The Deans, anticipating this, came prepared with details of how they expected their ministry to work. “A magical thing happened,” Bengel says. “We had met 15 other candidates and did phone interviews with another 25. After talking with Amy and Russ, we were thinking, ‘Could this be it?’ It was almost too good to be true. It was so right, it was unbelievable. It is not what we went to find, but it is so perfect for us.

“All of us on the committee said God did this for us,” she adds.

During the past three years, Bengel says, Park Road had declined in membership and morale was low. “We were to the point of thinking that if this search fails, what will we do. If we couldn’t start to grow our church, we didn’t know if we could sustain it,” she says.

“Now we are almost like Lazarus,” she says. “We were down to about 125 in worship and hadn’t seen any growth in two years. Now we have 250 in worship,” she adds, crediting the Deans’ warmth and enthusiasm for the renewal. “All signs are that we are a healthy, turned-around church.”

At Kilmarnock Baptist Church in the northern neck of Virginia, the search committee five years ago didn’t go out looking for a couple either. “We’re a country church and we wouldn’t have thought of ourselves as a candidate for this kind of team ministry,” says Bill Moore, chair of the committee.

After meeting Bill and Mary Dell Sigler, the committee of 10 decided to spend a week in prayer, the result of which, Moore says, was each one coming back convinced that “the Lord wants us to call them.” The call went out, the Siglers came, and “things just keep getting better,” Moore says.

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