Does Your Church Need An Executive Pastor?

Reprinted from the CCCC’s Bulletin Issue 5, 2010

by Ken Godevenos, Accord Resolutions Services Inc.

Your church is growing. The senior pastor has several professional and support staff to supervise but admits to being neither a manager nor an administrator. The church programs are growing in number. The church board is trying its best to move to a policy governance model and only provide guidance while letting the staff run the church.

If all or some of these statements ring true for your church, an Executive Pastor (EP) might be the answer.

Making and Implementing the Decision

There are a number of other considerations in opting for an EP:

If existing staff members are stressed and the team is no longer as effective as it was with continued communication gaps, non-integrated programs and often working in isolation it may be time to consider a major restructuring.
Decide whether an administrative pastor or a true EP is required. The former administers day-to-day operations while the latter usually acts as the pilot who gets us to our destination. The senior pastor serves as the navigator who knows where you are going.
The issue of whom the EP will serve needs to be answered. Subject to the circumstances of any given situation, he or she must first serve the senior pastor as his or her Chief Operating Officer. Second, he or she serves the rest of the staff as their supervisor, and third, he or she serves the board as its senior implementer and monitor of established goals and objectives.
The distribution of responsibilities between the senior and executive pastors, as well as the church board, must be clearly identified and recorded.

The EP’s Role Defined

Generally, the scope of the EP’s position might look like this: “To implement the ministry vision of the senior pastor and church board through the management of operations and programs, as well as the supervision of staff.:”

A few specific job description responsibilities might include:

Develop systems and structures that nurture, supervise and develop all ministries and support staff.
Refine the vision of the senior pastor and church board and lead the ministry leadership team in developing a strategic plan for implementing that vision.
Foster clear communication of the vision and the plan throughout the staff and keep the senior pastor and elders informed of all significant operations and personnel issues.
Ensure that all ministry departments are coordinated and integrated into the overall ministry vision and goals.
Provide leadership and supervision to administrative/operations teams, including facilities, financial reporting, capital expenditures, budget preparation, office support and general management.
General Qualifications Might Include:

Graduate Business and/or Theological degree.
Previous experience in a leadership or supervisory capacity in which he or she held responsibility for delivery of mission, for staff leadership and development, and for ongoing budgetary and financial management.
Demonstrated commitment to a local body of believers.
Participated as a leader and a contributor for a large, growing, multi-level staff.
A “life-long learner” keeping abreast of current issues — both theological and organizational — affecting the church.
Conditions for Success Might Include:

The hiring body must ensure an extreme trust (both stated and demonstrated) between the senior pastor and the EP.
The board must ensure that the church and staff are ready for a major structural change of this magnitude. A Change Readiness Survey for Churches is helpful in this regard.
The senior pastor must be willing to adjust to another key leader or partner in the ministry, and the board must be willing to adjust to doing less implementing and more policy-making.
Some Pitfalls to Avoid:

Do not hire an “unknown” with respect to gifts, personality and, most importantly, chemistry with the senior pastor.
Do not exclude the senior pastor or the EP from communications with the board and/or attendance at board meetings.
Do not allow other staff to bypass the EP on personal matters such as their responsibilities, performance management and compensation.
One could write volumes on this topic, but we have covered some of the most significant aspects of identifying the need for, selecting and employing an EP. Above all, consider whether or not having an EP will better serve Christ’s mandate for the local church. If so, go for it. If not, do not hire one simply because it is popular or because your church has reached the size at which experts say you “should” have one.

(Taken from the book entitled Human Resources For the Church: Applying Corporate Practices in a Spiritual Setting by Ken B. Godevenos, Essence Publishing, 2009.

For more information, consulting assistance, or to order copies, please contact:

Ken Godevenos, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., 416.930.8472 or Email:

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