1. The role of associate minister is often purposely ambiguous. There are alot of times when churches need to get something done, it requires a full-time staff member to get it started, but the preacher and youth minister have those defined roles into which this task doesn’t fit. I find myself filling some of those roles. For example, I work with young adults, preach and teach as main focci. However, when we needed to start an effective children’s program on Sunday pm i was the man for the job. I think a peice of advice I would give is to be open to a constantly developing vision of the leadership and be flexible. Full-time availability can be just the position a church is looking for. Now, a deacon is over our children’s Bible hour that ministry and it is going well.
2. Often, associate ministers are, like you said, in the background. Since we are often not bombarded by people like the preacher and youth minister, this provides a unique opportunity to connect with a few people we can intentionally identify and develop.
3. Also, being someone who can work in the background gives a unique opportunity to hear conversations that would not be had around the public face (preacher) of the church, or the official leadership (elders). This can provde helpful insight into the pulse of the church as well as give opportunity to subtly offer positive perspective to issues that may have been wrongly or negatively perceived.