Risen Life Church had four preaching pastors rotating from Sunday to Sunday as we journeyed through a sermon series called "The Story." (You can listen to sermons and see the rotation schedule here.) We worked together on a rough outline. We discussed the sermon direction from week to week. We helped each other. And except for a little time off, we were present for one another's sermons. For the conclusion, all four pastors preached a shorter sermon on the themes they covered and we did it on the same Sunday morning, together. Each pastor had his specific area to cover and we were separated only by a worship song. The unity was amazing and I believe the morning was well received among the congregation. I also believe it was fruitful.
This summer I realized that a shared pulpit, if done well, is more like a relay race than a class with a substitute teacher. In a relay, each person is responsible for his individual run, but not the entire race. Each man runs alone yet has the team backing him, with him, cheering him on. Then he hands the baton off; not symbolizing that he's done, but that the race is run by the team, not the individual. He continues to do his part for the man running at the moment and he may have another leg to run soon. A relay team is exactly that, a team. Each runner has different strengths and weaknesses and they race together. The team wins or looses together. In a relay, it's great to have a strong runner but one good runner can't win a relay race alone.
A shared pulpit is like a relay team. One week is one preacher's run. Then he hands off the baton to the next preacher for the next leg of the journey that will be preached the following week. Each man cheers on the others. They pray for one another. They are in it together, running toward a shared goal. And no one preacher becomes a super-star. They're a team, preaching together for the glory of God and his gospel.
* Photo taken by Flickr.com user, NoHeadLights, is registered under a creative commons license and is used with permission.