Home > Brian's Blogs > The Joy (and Necessity) of Co-Pastoring

The Joy (and Necessity) of Co-Pastoring

There are a lot of wonderful things about Co-Pastoring.  But one of the most wonderful things for us Pastors and our congregation is the co-teaching.  I’m learning that this co-teaching is not only a joy, it is a necessity.

I’m reading Parker J. Palmer’s classic book, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life.  Listen to Palmer’s great words of being involved in a “community of truth” that helps us along the way:

“When I imagine the community of truth gathered around some great thing – from DNA to The Heart of Darkness to the French Revolution [we could add, Christ] – I wonder: Could teachers gather around the great thing called “teaching and learning” and explore its mysteries with the same respect we accord any subject worth knowing?

We need to learn how to do so, for such a gathering is one of the few means we have to become better teachers.  There are no formulas for good teaching, and the advice of experts has but marginal utility.  If we want to grow in our practice, we have two primary places to go: to the inner ground from which good teaching comes to the community of fellow teachers from whom we can learn more about ourselves and our craft.

If I want to teach well, it is essential that I explore my inner terrain.  But I can get lost in there, practicing self-delusion and running in self-serving circles.  So I need the guidance that a community of collegial discourse provides – to say nothing of the support such a community can offer to sustain me in the trials of teaching and the cumulative and collective wisdom about this craft that can be found in every faculty worth its salt.

Resources that could help us teach better are available from each other  – if we could get access to them.  But there, of course, is the rub.  Academic culture builds barriers between colleagues even higher and wider than those between us and our students.  These barriers come partly from the competition that keeps us fragmented by fear.  But they also come from the fact that teaching is perhaps the most privatized of all the public professions.

Though we teach in front of students, we almost always teach solo, out of collegial sight – as contrasted with surgeons or trial lawyers, who work in the presence of others who know their craft well…When we walk into our workplace, the classroom, we close the door on our colleagues.  When we emerge, we rarely talk about what happened or what needs to happen next, for we have no shared experience to talk about.  Then, instead of calling this the isolationism it is and trying to overcome it, we claim it as a virtue called “academic freedom”: my classroom is my castle, and the sovereigns of other fiefdoms are not welcome here.

There are a lot of great insights in this excerpt.  First, a community is necessary.  Second, a humble community is necessary.  Third, this humble community must move from competition to support.  Fourth, this humble community sharpens one another and brings great joy.  Finally, this humble community helps us become better teachers, which enables us to make a greater impact on the world.

I realize that not everyone has the privilege of co-pastoring or co-teaching.  This does not mean that they must live without such a community, just that developing a community may be a little harder.  But I for one am extremely thankful to the wonderful people of GLBC for allowing us to learn, teach, pastor, and grow as a community.

Categories: Brian's Blogs
  1. J Lemke
    July 23, 2009 at 9:47 am


  2. Andrew Ford
    July 24, 2009 at 9:26 am


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