Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. (Mark 6:6b-7) After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Luke 10:1-2)
Jesus sent them out two by two. Whether it was the 12 disciples or the 72, whether it was a simple errand or preparing for the Lord’s Supper, He sent them out in pairs, two by two, rather than individually. Could it be that He would do the same today, even in an individualistic culture like the one in which many of us live?
In the church culture of today, it is is hard to wrap our minds around what it would look like if we did ministry two by two instead of each person on his or her own. Can you imagine two senior pastors leading the church in unity instead of just one? Two worship leaders who work together and take turns and pass the leadership back and forth instead of one leader doing it all? Two youth pastors who share the load and get along well as they lead the youth? Two leaders of the children’s, men’s, or women’s ministry who could pray together and brainstorm together as to how to lead more effectively? Two leaders of each home group or prayer group who would be shepherding and praying for the people who belong to their group?
The pessimists among us (or perhaps we might say the realists) would be quick to point out that the two might not get along and, since it’s not one person’s responsibility, they might give only 50% and be half as effective. But the opposite might also be true. There might be an increase of energy and ideas that come forth as two people brainstorm and work together in unity. They might be more than twice as strong as a solo leader. It might really be true that two heads are better than one. Jesus must have thought so -- He sent people out two by two -- and His example is a good one to follow!
In addition, there is plenty of Biblical advice for plural leadership of ministries. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” And Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Can you imagine two senior pastors leading the church in unity instead of just one?
Take a moment and think about how we usually do ministry. Think about pastors and church leaders who are overburdened and isolated, barely hanging on to their call and position and even faith in God. Wouldn’t they benefit from having a partner with whom they could share the load? Would having a partner in the ministry help prevent the moral failures and burnout that is prevalent in the church today?
So then, think outside of the box of church tradition and how we have always done things. Consider for a moment that we really could be more healthy and effective if we followed the example of Jesus and sent people out two by two to do ministry. Two evangelists going out to win people to Christ together instead of on their own. Two prophets praying together and declaring the Word of the Lord in unity instead of individually. Two shepherds watching over the flock instead of one person responsible for the souls of many. Two teachers taking turns as they share their insights and exhortations in the Word.
Jesus just might be onto something here. Maybe we should pay attention and follow His example. Let’s Pray Together:Lord, You sent people out two by two. Help us to understand this dynamic even when we live in an individualistic culture. Send me a partner in the ministry, someone I can partner with and share my ups and downs with, someone I can share the burden of leadership with. Help us to organize our churches and ministries around Your two-by-two model so that we can be even more than doubly effective. Help us in these ministries and situations that I bring before You now...(continue praying as you feel led…)
Related Resources: Discover the Power of Two: A Call to Significance -- Good article by Amanda Rankin that drives the point home that God has created us with unique gifts and abilities but those are best expressed in the context of ministry done two by two or in groups.