By Rev. Dale Cockrum | Inland District Superintendent

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n my last post, I began to share a conversation I had with new pastors at the Clergy Transition Workshop, identifying how I measure pastoral ministry, my own and those of the colleagues with whom I serve the churches of the district. Mary Huycke, the leader of the event, challenged me to name my deepest convictions about ministry. Here is number two:

2. Ministry requires a team.

Luther built the Reformation on the conviction that we are priests to one another. He understood that we can’t be our own priests; we need others who will mediate God’s grace to us. As United Methodists we’ve chosen to be in connection with others rather than go it alone, even though sometimes it seems easier to go it alone.

"Team Spirituality" by William Carter
“Team Spirituality” by William Carter

We know that in a system with no connection and no accountability, there are grave dangers-huge risks of self-deception, possibilities for falling away from our high calling. We know that when we are part of a team with solid spiritual connections and with caring accountability, we can do good ministry.

The book I recommend for this conviction is one by Bill Carter, titled Team Spirituality!

I do not believe ministry is a job for lone rangers. I fully subscribe to Paul’s understanding of the church as the body of Christ. If we as pastors try to do everything in the church, the church will wither and die.

In every church I’ve served, I’ve been able to identify, recruit, and equip people who would share ministry-visitation ministry, teaching ministry, administration, and so on. It’s great to be on a church staff with other pastors and paid professionals-I’ve done that. There is a lot of sharing of ideas and energy that comes from doing ministry with others.

[pull_quote_left]The problem with United Methodist pastors in general is that we can do a great deal; we are multi-talented people. But there’s a downside.[/pull_quote_left]But even in the smallest church, you can find and recruit and train leaders who will share your passion for ministry and together you can do far more than one person can alone. You can find people for your team who will make up for your shortcomings, who can do parts of ministry, frankly, better than you can.

I expect you to recruit people who can do what you can’t do, or who can do it better. I won’t think badly of you if you can’t do everything.

The problem with United Methodist pastors in general is that we can do a great deal; we are multi-talented people. But there’s a downside. People who could potentially help our ministries really take off are cut off from doing that thing that would give them joy and help them fulfill their part of the purpose of the church.

Next time: Conviction # 3: Ministers give ministry away!


  1. I join with Molly in celebrating the decision to allow those of us serving outside the Inland District to also receive your insightful teachings here! I look forward to the rest of the series, and will be sharing all this with the leadership of my current congregation!

Leave a Reply