Cara Shonamon recently joined her father, Chuck Sunberg, as a Co-Senior Pastor at the Shawnee Church of the Nazarene in Shawnee, KS. Her blog is chronicling lessons learned as she and her Dad embark on this unusual journey together.

How Does This Work?

This year my dad and I began a new journey in life and we are excited. We are excited to see how the Lord leads a wonderful church community and we are excited to be a part of it. You see, my dad and I were recently installed as the Co-Senior Pastors of Shawnee Church of the Nazarene in Shawnee, KS. They aren’t too many Co-Pastors in the church of the Nazarene and most of them are spouses ministering together (Side note: Thanks be to God for our diverse expression of the pastoral office in the Church of the Nazarene!). So, it is not very common to have a daughter and father co-pastor a church together. The reality is we are learning along with the church to see what this model will look like. This blog is a place to reflect on what it looks like for us to co-pastor as: father and daughter, millennial and baby boomer, male and female, first time senior pastor and seasoned senior pastor. We feel we have a lot to offer one another and wanted to chronicle these exciting days together and share them with you.

It’s been 3 weeks in the office together and our biggest take away thus far is to answer the question: How does this work?

Someone recently posed these questions: Do we have to schedule meetings with both of you at the same time? Do you two have to go everywhere together? These are really good questions. The analogy that we use is a parenting analogy.

I remember as a kid going to talk to my mom in order to get something I wanted. On occasion she would say, “no.” I did not always appreciate that response and so would go and try to ask my dad the same question. My dad’s response was always, “what did your mother say?”

The same conversation would take place if I started out with dad as the first parent I would ask. They would both say, “what did your [other parent] say?” They created a culture where I knew I couldn’t play one parent against the other. They also created an environment where I knew that my parents shared everything with one another so they were on the same page.

As co-pastors we want to have a similar approach. We want to avoid situations where one pastor gets played against the other. We also want to convey that if a person communicates with one pastor they can be assured the other will know about that conversation as well.

Our desire is to create an open and honest environment where people feel they can come and talk to either pastor and know that the other will be aware as well.

We also know that some people will connect better with one pastor than the other… and that is okay! That is part of the beauty of the co-pastorate. When we function as a pastoral office we can resonate with more of the congregation because we are different. We celebrate our differences and want to use them as we serve the church.

That’s all for this week. We are excited for the days ahead and what we have to learn. We want to have a posture of learning and growing…not assuming. So, the reflections that take place here are not meant to be a how to, but rather a journey that we want to share and be able to look back on someday. You are welcome to join us along the way!


- Shepherding Together