Curates. Beware of the step!

Mind the step!

I’m interested to know what advice new incumbents [or pastors] might give to curates [or assistant ministers] whilst the experience of stepping up from the number two position to number one in church life is still fresh.

I have been an incumbent of a small to medium size church in a UPA for just over two years.  I am only now beginning to find my feet.  Speaking to our lay reader this week, who is an ex-primary school teacher, she suggested that the move was like that of deputy head to head teacher.  I think the step is more like a second or third year teacher, L2 or L3 in pay-scale terms, being promoted straight to head.

The curate has limited responsibility, perhaps for a youth group, a small group or two, discipleship course or some other didactic work.  There’s preaching and teaching in various situations, much like the work of a newish teacher.  But the work of the incumbent involves establishing mission priorities and setting up visions to fulfill that mission; setting roles and responsibilities for a multitude of people involved in church life in various ways; there’s the training of those people; the overall responsibility for the buildings; communication, within and outside the parish; and for many, school government.  And there there’s what we really think we’re for, the preaching and teaching of God’s word; counselling, bringing people to saving faith and equipping them by teaching and training.

Some other wise soul said being a curate is far more like being a member of the congregation than being an incumbent.  Yet another said to me on Saturday “Neil, in your first year you can do nothing wrong and in your second year you can do nothing right.” Has anyone else had a similar experience which will help curates and assistant prepare to make the step up?

What would you recommend as reading for preparation?  I suggest Derek Prime and Alistair Begg, “On Being a Pastor.”  It is a brilliant overview of what is required in post.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
This entry was posted in church leadership and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Curates. Beware of the step!

  1. Hi Neil
    I’d say keep the main thing the main thing, and that this seems to me to be a constant battle. I mention some of the dangers of fragmentation and isolation in an article I wrote for 9:38 ( see
    A book on leading early on is Zac Veron’s Leadership on the front foot
    But really it’s about not being so busy thinking about Church that we don’t have the time to think about God.

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