Co-Pastor means follower

I talked with a pastor yesterday.  He and his wife are co-pastors of a growing church.  Co-Pastor tells me more than they think it does.

A Co-Pastor is always a wife.  Immediately you understand that this wife pastor cannot leave that church and be a pastor of another church. ‘Tis not done.

‘Tis done more for tax purposes than for theology of allowing a woman to preach.

Keep talking and you find out more.

He told me he is the leader of the family because that is what the Bible teaches. His wife stays home and takes care of the kids.  Nothing wrong with that. 

But when one person sets themselves up as the leader, there has to be a follower, and that made his wife a follower.

I also told this pastor that he was not divine and until he became divine, he couldn’t have authority over anybody.  That his idea of authority put him directly between his wife and God. 

He was very nice and probably had never had an older woman talk to him this way, and he really didn’t know what to say.

Remember Christ is the head of the church and the church is made up of men and women.  Christ is our head, not our husbands, or our pastors.

I wish I had told him that, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

An example of a Co-Pastor follower is Victoria Osteen.  You would never call Joel Osteen the Co-Pastor of the church.  He is the Pastor.  Co-Pastor does not mean equal.  Co-Pastor is always a follower wife.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
This entry was posted in Equality for women in Southern Baptist churches and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Co-Pastor means follower

  1. territippins says:

    Always paying lip service to women. “Throw her a crumb hoping that she won’t ask for a whole loaf.” Yes, the word Co-pastor is code for second fiddle. I understand that as some churches grow the ‘Co-Pastor’ most often will have more duties thrust upon him or her. I would be interested to know ‘what’ exactly his wife does as co-pastor.

    “I also told this pastor that he was not divine and until he became divine, he couldn’t have authority over anybody. That his idea of authority put him directly between his wife and God”

    Be careful sister, those are fighting words! It seems to me that your statement left him bewildered, as he had no response for you. That is just an initial shock reaction. A hard complementarian will have a response of some kind eventually, even if it is just to call you a rebellious,Jezebel, sinner, etc. But most often they choose to preach a corporate sermon to anonymous feminine sympathizers in the congregation (and in that way he cant be held responsible for publically pointing you out to the church……slick. The one good thing sis, is that he will have to think about what you said. Most Complimentarians have never been challenged on anything that they believe or teach as it concerns women. I try to always be respectful and keep the tone of my voice calm and collected. If a Comp man senses any frustration or elevated emotions about this issue, then they just seem to want to dismiss you, and accuse you being a typical emotional woman that hates men.

    I also wanted to ask you if you have noticed this scenerio. Most Black churches are big into bishops and with a few exceptions all the bishops are male. Is that because Bishops are considered to be higher on the spiritual chain-of-command? Some wives are active, preaching pastors while thier husbands have the ‘office’ of Bishop, which I am assuming means thier authority extends beyond thier own church. It seems to me that this is a power issue to. And the title ‘first lady’ what exactly does that entail anyway? 🙂


    • About the Black churches and Bishops. We worked with a lot of Black churches when I was with Baptist General Convention of Texas. They have a different culture and love flowing clothes and titles. Many wear robes. I think the women have chosen First Lady as a title similar as to what Co-Pastor is for white people.

      I found them to be lovely people with a heart for the Lord. I enjoyed working with them.


      • territippins says:

        Thanks for the info. It just seems to me when all is said and done, that male power is still at the root of, ‘co-pastor’, ‘first lady’. It is not a white thing or a black thing, it is a man thing. A quote from Carolyn Osiek, ‘Beyong Anger’,”Sexism and patriarchalism have worked against both women and men in three ways. The first is to dehumanize women institutionally by disqualifying them on the basis of sex from access to the sacred and to leadership. The second way is to attempt to theological justification of the oppression of patriarchalism, so that it would seem to be perpetrated in the name of God. The third way that sexism works against all of us is by promoting a “false consciousness” which permits both oppressor and oppressed to blindly accept and internalize thier roles.”

        Now, number three is important to me as I think this is why so many women just go along with the program of hierarchy in the church. This is all they have known and this is all they have seen. They may get a twinge that something is not right now and then, but they quickly dismiss this in favor of what is familiar. It is much safer to never question and just do what you are told, whether it be your husband or your church… is a survival tactic.


  2. Mara says:

    You know, I never really thought of that.

    I did have a Pastor and his wife as co-pastors together. And that’s how they referred to it. They were ‘egal’ but that didn’t mean he still wasn’t controlling. He was.

    They are getting a divorce now because of his bad behavior which may have included adultery. There were other things involve.

    But she WAS an awesome teacher and the church she is going to now is helping her heal and willing to put her in a teaching position soon.
    It was known for some time in the community that the church she helped co-pastor had significant issues because her husband had significant issues.

    It’s too bad his issues were not dealt with. Or I should say, he refused to deal with them. Sometimes those in positions of authority feel so much need to keep up appearances that they neglect to keep their own house/soul. And great is the fall there of.

    Started my series, Shirley. Those interest can just click on my name.


    • Libby says:

      I am a Pastor and I am married. My husband refuses to be the co-pastor, which he is. He actually is a brother and needs deliverance. Your article has helped me because he has some real strong issues and is at this present time refusing to deal with them. I am contemplating divorce because he won’t listen to me, our Apostle or even God for that matter. I don’t however agree with the above statement that a woman in a marriage is automatically the co-pastor. I was a Youth Pastor for 10 years and an Elder for 3 then was called to Pastor. My husband was just a brother and when we got married everyone began calling him Elder. So you see he needs to humble himself and let God do the work.


      • Welcome to my blog. I am glad that it has helped in some ways. I wonder about your statement that you think your husband has to be the co-pastor now that you are married. If he hasn’t been called to be a pastor, you need to accept that. Let him be who God has called him to be. Hopefully, that is a supportive position for your calling. God does not call men and women in tandem for pastoral positions. Also, I am concerned that you are ready to divorce your husband because he doesn’t live up to your expectations. Do you do counseling at your church. What would you counsel a person who has proposed the situation you have set forth? God bless.


  3. They have never been called on it. Not a member of their church will ever tell them that they are full of baloney.


  4. A. Amos Love says:


    “full of baloney” 😉

    That’s not right. Baloney is good. I like baloney. A lot.

    Now Pastor’s. They are full of something. That’s another story. 😉

    Been enjoying your wave making and
    over turning the tables of the money changers in my Fathers house.
    I was wondering… Why would you want to debase yourself and
    be considered equal with a “Pastor/leader?”

    Does **Todays** “Pastor/Reverend/Leader,”
    really believe the Bible? The Scriptures?

    Hmmm? **Todays** “Pastor/Reverend/Leader,”
    is this even a “Title” or “Position” found in the scriptures?

    Here’s some questions to ask as you check out “Pastors” in the Bible.

    In the Bible, How many people are – called… “Pastor/Reverend?”
    In the Bible, How many people have – the title… “Pastor/Reverend?”
    In the Bible, How many people are – ordained a… “Pastor/Reverend?”
    In the Bible, How many congregations are – “led” by a… “Pastor/Reverend?”

    My people have been “lost sheep”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to go astray.
    Jer 50:6

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice;
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When?

    Jesus… Alpha and Omega…


  5. I’m so glad you addressed this! Husband/wife “co-pastors” have always bugged me for the very reasons you wrote about.


    • Most people don’t understand the tax benefits given to pastors. When it is a family-owned church, the tax benefits are doubled. Plus there is always the CO part which is like a co-pilot. Everyone knows the pilot is the main one in charge. Thanks for the comment.


  6. Money. I should have known….


  7. Paula says:

    Yes, we’re always the “ladies’ auxiliary”, aren’t we. I always cringe at such terms.


  8. Jennifer says:

    While I certainly do not believe this to be the case everywhere, I find it rather ironic that the churches in my area that have husbands and wives as “co-pastors” also seem to be those that are most conservative and least egalitarian as well.


  9. I realize this is an old post, but I was searching for stories of co-pastors because my husband and I intend to start applying to churches together. We are doing such because we both feel called to church ministry — and in ways that work well together. We also don’t like the idea of serving two separate churches and not being members of the same congregation. We’d work backwards to the typical husband and wife co-pastors, because I’d be the main preacher, pastoral care person, etc. He really wants to serve the children, youth and discipleship areas. The model itself isn’t the problem — there is nothing wrong with co-pastoring, it is individuals wanting power or using the church that is the problem. And that can happen anywhere, whether or not a church has co-pastors. If a church treats me as a co-pastor and my husband as pastor, then it is our job to help educate that we are BOTH ministers — as are they.


    • Thanks for writing. The pastor who I was speaking to who said his wife was co-pastor has a bunch of children, and more adopted as teenagers, and the wife stays home with the children and takes care of the children. She homeschools, and she cans food and he also works in carpentry to take care of their large family. I doubt seriously if she ever gives a sermon, or acts as what we traditionally think a pastor would act. Human nature being what it is, it is important that you stake your claim out at the beginning, and look the people in the eye, and not defer to your husband, unless it is something that he really knows about, and even then, I think that I would make a stab at the answer. If you don’t, people will look to him for the information. That is simply learned human nature. I bet most of us grew up looking to our mothers for answers, and then somehow we changed that. You will need to educate them that you are both ministers, but that you are the one in charge (by your actions, and words if necessary). If not, he will be by default, particularly if he has a very strong personality or physically tall or large. Now that sounds really strange, doesn’t it? You are already battling a denomination that does not accept women as pastors, and lots go into this. You can do this, and I know that you can be successful. It just takes work, and a clear understanding from both of you that you will be in charge in matters relating to the church and spiritual matters. Did any of the websites tell you this? I believe in you, and I believe in your calling. Now, go out and God bless you and your husband. Shirley


  10. I find my myself cringing when I see church signs that read, “Pastors: Mr. Husband and Mrs. Wife,” because that is so often mis-leading. For one thing, it has become popular but is not necessarily scriptural. Just because God may call a woman or man to the pastorship, does not mean the spouse is automatically called with the same ministry gift. The husband or wife may be a gifted teacher or evangelist, but that does not rate an honorary title of “pastor.”

    From what I have observed. The wife is rarely anything more than the pastor’s wife, with the usual privileges and authority that accompany that position. And the husband is almost always the senior pastor and deferred to as such. If a couple choses to pastor a church together, they should be very clear from the outset about who is senior pastor, because one of them surely will be. And if it is the wife, then the husband should be her strongest supporter.


  11. Hi Jennifer, Have you subcribed to the Freedom for Christian Women’s Coalition Newsletter?


  12. Anthony says:

    First of all, Scripture never supports the idea of women pastoring. The pastoral qualifications given in 1 Timothy and Titus exclude the possibility of female pastors. This has nothing to do with inequality, rather it deals with God’s divine plan and purpose for men and women. As Baptists, Scripture is to be sole rule for faith and practice.
    Further, Scripture tells Christian wives to submit to their own husbands because the head of every woman is her husband and the head of every man is the Lord.
    Now some might try to use the verses about there being neither male nor female to support the idea of female pastors, but when viewed in context it is dealing with who is capable of being saved.
    You may consider me a chauvinist, but I am not. I simply believe what Scripture teaches about the roles of men and women in the Church.


    • Anthony, welcome! I am glad to have you join us!

      You have a misconception about Christian wives submitting to their own husbands that I feel the need to correct you on. Let’s look at your scripture. “Christ is the head of man, man is the head of his wife, and God is head of Christ.” As a good Baptist, you know that this scripture is completely against the teachings of Jesus when read as it is, and as you wrote it in your comments. It goes against Christianity because: 1) In this scripture, Christ is the head of men only because the women have a husband who is their head; 2) Man has been given diety and inserted between a woman and God when you read it like it says ‘the husband is the head of his wife.’

      Now read this scripture this way:”Christ is the head of mankind (remember the illustration I gave you of how in your marriage your husband has bought you and owns you? Well, that is similar to what Christ has done)and He can do this because of He is God.”

      Now, doesn’t that make a whole lot more sense than telling men that they are gods and that their wives do not have Christ, but a husband as their head? You know that it is heresy when you give men that kind of diety, don’t you?

      Scripture is not concerned about the roles or men or women except the role of accepting Christ as their savior, and loving His as God with all their hearts and souls. Gender has nothing to do with it. Read my blog “In search of the picture of Biblical womanhood” so you can get a better picture of this so-called role you believe in.

      By the way, Scripture doesn’t support men pastoring either. How on earth does those scriptures exclude the possiblility for all time for women pastors? Do you really, really do everything the Bible tells you to do? As as Baptist, I can tell you that you don’t, because we Baptists have decided that certain things apply to us and that certain things don’t. Just as every denomination has done. We pick and choose what we believe and to what extent we apply those beliefs.

      Scripture is to be the sole rule for faith and practice sounds good, but you are ignoring Scripture when you deny women, because Jesus Himself gave the good news first to women that he was the Messiah, and that he had risen. You deny the equality that Jesus demonstrated in favor of some obsure reasoning that men and women have certain “roles” which Jesus never indicated.


  13. Kristen says:

    “I simply believe what Scripture teaches about the roles of men and women in the Church.”

    And we simply believe what the Scripture teaches about there being no such thing as “roles” or heirarchy in the Body. We think you’re misreading the Scriptures at every point– and believe me, we’ve heard all your arguments before and have found them wanting.

    How do you know you’re the one who’s reading the Scriptures right?


    • Anne says:

      “Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put the church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth. Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church, Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.”

      Quoted in The Road to Missional by Michael Frost (p80)

      I just felt this was a good place to post this. This is how we can distinguish ourselves as reading the scriptures right. And I believe that comps fall into the ‘church’ category – they’re afraid of ‘feminism’, and they would place a literal, rigid interpretation of the Bible above the welfare of its congregation. Namely the women. Even if she’s being abused, according to what some patriachal pastors have said and done.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.