Before we take a look at another ministry of an Executive Pastor, I need to clarify a potential confusion that I caused.
Clarifying the Difference Between Position and Ministry
The ministry of an Executive Pastor does not have to be contained in a single person or staff position. It really needs to be a ministry of every church that can be performed by the Elders, staff, and even key unpaid staff. Sometimes, God gifts a single individual with the skills, passion, and experience needed to provide that type of ministry for a church family. Then the position is filled by a Business Manager, Associate Pastor, Administrative Pastor, or Executive Pastor.
However God chooses to ensure that these important ministry services are happening in your church is all part of His plan. Let’s just focus on making sure these ministries are happening and not get all wrapped up in who does it and what their title is. Deal? Cool!
The Ministry of Maximization
Another ministry that can be performed by an Executive Pastor is the ministry of maximization. This particular ministry resonates with my heart because it is one of my strengths and something I love to do. Let’s unpack the two different focuses of this ministry.
Helping Others Maximize Themselves
The first focus is helping a person discover their spiritual gifts, understanding how they align with their personality and temperament, and where best to use them in the church. This is one of the most exciting and fulfilling services that a leader can do for their followers. In my leadership experience, there is a special energy and excitement that is released when followers serve within their gifting and calling that is intoxicating and definitely a “God thing.”
Sadly, a lot of followers try desperately to find a place to serve in a church and frequently end up doing something that helps but may not make the most of their gifting and passion. This approach usually results in them serving for a season or two and then dropping out due to burn out or boredom. There is a better methodology explained in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 that just requires patience, careful coaching, and a desire on the part of leadership to relentlessly guide volunteers to the best seat on the bus.
When a leader practices the ministry of maximization, they are always looking for ways to maximize the contribution of staff and volunteers. Maximizing requires time, focus, and energy. All three of these may be in short supply for a church or organization that is moving too quickly and does not have time to fully engage in the assessment and matching process. Then the focus becomes forward movement and survival instead of health and making sure people are matched with their perfect service activity.
I think that a lot of churches expect their Pastor to take the lead in this area because fully energized and engaged staff and volunteers are absolutely critical to a church's ongoing success. But this can be an unrealistic expectation because the Pastor is already presenting messages, caring for people, and moving the church forward, which already takes a lot of their time, focus, and energy.
In my past leadership roles (as an XP) I have devoted a majority of my time to analyzing resource expenditures and assessing the effectiveness of staff and volunteers. Marketplace leaders are trained, experienced, and held accountable for performing these important tasks as a critical part of their job description. This assessment process is one of the few tasks that an XP can transfer directly from the marketplace into ministry with very little adjustment.
Churches with leaders who practice the ministry of maximization provide operating environments and cultures that promote both personal and church growth. In this type of culture, pastors are freed up to pastor because administrative staff are making the most of every dollar donated and every minute spent. Churches with this mindset are very much like Peter Senge’s 5th discipline organizations that focus on learning and continual improvement.
Helping the Church Maximize Financial Resources
The other focus of the ministry of maximization has to do with spending every dollar carefully and effectively. Ministry resources are generally a finite amount, and every church needs an Executive Pastor who can evaluate how resources are being spent and make sure that the church is getting the biggest bang for their buck.
I asked a pastor the other day if he had audited his insurance policy lately, and the look on his face looked very much like he had bitten a lemon. Auditing insurance policies, refinancing the church, evaluating utility bills, and comparing quotes from multiple disposal companies is the last thing he wanted to do, and I couldn’t wait to get started!
This part of maximization is just plain fun for your typical Executive Pastor and pays huge dividends when it frees up resources for more ministry. Any Executive Pastor worth their salt will either annually or bi-annually review all of the vendor relationships, contracts, and arrangements with service providers for the precise reason of making sure the church is getting the best deal possible.
We are all moving incredibly fast these days, and months can disappear in the blink of an eye. With automatic bill-paying systems, a 10-year-old mortgage with a high interest rate can soak up extra resources simply because of the old statement, “why fix something that is not broken?” Unless your church has a person who regularly reviews every relationship and contract, you may be over-paying or under-serviced by a high-interest vehicle or copier leasing contract, out-of-date insurance policy, or a 20-year-old, double-digit mortgage.
Both of the focuses of the ministry of maximization (staff & expenses) are important to the health of the church, its growth, and staff longevity. It does not have to be done by an Executive Pastor or ex-marketplace professional. But it works better when the person is trained and experienced in dealing with the business world. It also helps if they really enjoy it! Not everyone can (or should) lead worship or find fulfillment handing out weekly bulletins and greeting people. But some of us really get jazzed about saving the church $224 a year because we researched and engaged a lower-cost waste disposal company! In other words, please don’t make me hold a baby or be a walking jungle gym for 15 four-year-old screamers! But if you will let me audit your insurance policy, I will serve in your church until I die or Christ returns to take us all home!
The ministry of maximization is important to every church because we all have a finite amount of resources available, and we cannot waste a staff member, a minute, or a dollar. Please make sure someone who loves contracts, vendor management, and “getting a deal” is committed to maximizing all of your resources. The dividends that performing this ministry provides can change the future of your church and save your pastor from burning out and leaving!
Disclaimer: The opinions, representations, and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of Telios Law PLLC, and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. Telios Law PLLC accepts no liability for any errors, omissions, or representations.
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