I believe in team ministry. It's better for the Kingdom when ministry isn't built around anybody but Jesus. It's even better when multiple people who love Jesus can serve together and actually love one another. It's not easy.
The shared pulpit is one place where team ministry can be really good for a congregation. And my a shared pulpit, I don't mean one guy writes all the sermons for the campus to deliver. I mean more than one person fills the pulpit at a local church. Someone other than the senior pastor preaches when the senior pastor is in the building. Seriously, the lead pastor is not off on vacation, he's sitting in the pew learning from the guy preaching that week.
I've been involved in a shared pulpit at two churches now. The first was at Risen Life Church, where I was on staff. At one point, we had four guys in the preaching rotation. The two more senior guys (who were also Elders) preached about 75% of the weeks and Jared and I split the others.
Now I'm the senior pastor at a church that values a shared pulpit. Redeeming Life Church. Even as I'm typing this, I'm thinking about a young man who will be preaching tomorrow. I'm not on vacation; I'll be there to sit under his teaching. Not only do we believe in team ministry, we believe in multiplication and we want to see if this guy might be a future church-planter or pastor. Pastor Brett Ricley preaches about once a month at Redeeming Life as does Pastor Jared Jenkins (who's on loan to us from Risen Life).
There are some really good things that come from a shared pulpit.
A shared pulpit gives the church a good diversity in the preaching and teaching. There is a different view point offered, although this is not to say a different theology. (For this to work, the preachers must agree on the major doctrines.) The listeners hear the sermon fresh because it's harder to pick up the style of a single preacher. The Holy Spirit is working as he will, only through a couple different preachers. The pastors get more time to work on sermons as well as do other ministry when they are not preparing a sermon. And it's just really fun to sit around a table with other skilled preachers to talk about the Bible, key themes, and major ideas.
But there are some really difficult things that a shared pulpit brings too.
It can be really hard not to compare yourself to the other preachers in an unhealthy way. The church can, but not always, struggle with a larger preaching staff. Sometimes differences in approaches and theology can become really problematic when ego and swagger clash. And it often confuses other churches who have never seen a team ministry approach with a shared pulpit.
Not too long ago, Jared Jenkins and I sad down and recorded a podcast for Salty Believer Unscripted on this topic. We share the pros and cons, the easy and the hard things.
If you are thinking about jumping into team ministry or trying out a shared pulpit, I recommend you check out the podcast. Or if you're just really curious how this works, it's worth the time.