It seems obvious to churches that have one and not so obvious to those that don’t.
The Increasing Importance of Executive Pastors
In the past 10 years, I have seen the role of Executive Pastor (XP) rise in importance as running the business side of the church has taken on more complexity.
We live in a very litigious society that always looks to blame someone for failures or mistakes. A church needs to be on top of current trends in risk management, employment policy, IRS regulations, building and land usage guidelines, lender-required audits, and safety/security concerns.
If your head is not spinning, you are probably an Executive Pastor, and this is just your to-do list. But if it is spinning, you are probably a Pastor who thought he was signing up to shepherd a flock and not run a small business.
It may not be a popular thing to say, but I believe that every church would benefit from having a person with XP skills on their leadership team.
If you are still not convinced, this is part 1 of a multi-part series where I will explain the reasons why I believe every church will run better with an XP.
Reason #1 for an Executive Pastor: Different Gifting, Different Roles
Let’s start with the foundational reason: I believe in the Biblical model that promotes each person serving according to his or her strengths and passions.
One day a local seminary student asked me whether I would consider mentoring him. The student was having some questions about his future plan to become a Senior Pastor and wondered if he could come behind the scenes to “watch the sausage get made” at the church where I worked. I agreed, and after spending a few weeks with me and the staff the student’s quandary proved even worse.
Along the way he discovered that his education covered all the basics of the skills and techniques that he would need to be a Pastor but missed the details for how to run the church. It was his opinion that he needed to get a bachelor’s in business administration to go along with his MDiv to be completely prepared to lead a small church. This shocked me because he was going to a top-flight seminary known for providing the very best preparation in theology and church leadership. Obviously, the program was missing some of the XP skills that this student felt he needed to be successful.
The first reason that every church needs an XP boils down to the fact that most Pastors are excellent at caring for people and studying and presenting the Word of God. But, unless they came from the business world into ministry, they have probably never run a business. It has been my experience that pastoral skills require a very different type of training than the analytical, left-brained skills needed to grow and run an efficient business. The church is not a business. But, with each passing year, there are more and more aspects of business operations forced on the church by the world it serves. Pastors are definitely equipped for a part of their role. But generally, they are not prepared for the other portion, and that is where the smaller local church or church plant struggles.
I believe in the Ephesians 4 model that promotes each person serving in their strength and passion. Pastors are equipped to shepherd and preach, and XPs are equipped to run the business side of the church. They create an environment where pastors can do as much ministry as possible without the concern of violating laws. This is the best use of each person’s skills and giftedness. If every church could have a team like this, the business world would be coming to the church for best practices instead of the other way around.
This may seem obvious, but I am going to say it anyway: Pastors are equipped to pastor and XPs are equipped to lead the business side of the church. I believe that in order for a church to reach its maximum redemptive potential, all aspects of the church need to run at peak efficiency. Business best practices and systems exist that can help that happen, provided they are adjusted for a ministry environment by an experienced XP.
In the next post, we’ll discuss more reasons why churches looking to maximize their effectiveness should have an XP.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest post belong to the author, who is responsible for its content, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Telios Law PLLC.
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