The work of the Executive Pastor is significant in the life of the church and to the support of the Lead Pastor. A Pastor seeks to call a man to work alongside him that he trusts and knows can fulfill the various responsibilities and demands of the position. The Executive Pastor must be capable of leading and shepherding the staff, various support groups, lay leadership, church committees, along with his crucial work in areas of administration.
Supporting the Lead Pastor
It is the responsibility of the Executive Pastor to take as much off of the Lead Pastor in the areas of administration and operations, as he allows. Relieving these weighty responsibilities from the Lead Pastor’s shoulders, allows him more flexibility and time to fulfill his pastoral functions. There must be a close working relationship between both the Lead Pastor and the Executive Pastor – this type of relationship must have trust and communication as it’s foundation. Trust and open communications will make way for vital conversations on sensitive church matters, staff issues, vision casting, and overall growth of the church.
Similar to the Lead Pastor, the Executive Pastor must have a testimony, divine call into ministry and this position, desire to serve and encourage the Lead Pastor, have a personal growing faith, and a commitment to serve, love, and see the local church grow. The Executive Pastor should also have an understanding of administration, finances, and a sound knowledge of church organization and function.
Because of the broad nature and role of the Executive Pastor, he is often heavily involved in all areas or ministries of the church. These include and are not limited to direct support of the Lead Pastor, administration, staff development, church finances, operations, and lay leadership (responsibilities are detailed below).
Supporting the Lead Pastor
Supporting, encouraging, affirming, and praying for the Lead Pastor is a vital responsibility for the Executive Pastor. Thus, he must withhold specific qualities that make it easy for the Lead Pastor to trust him. Several of these qualities should include maintaining his integrity, character should be above reproach, manage his household and marriage, not a lover of money, and be able to hold all things in a confidential manner (1 Timothy 3:1-7). In doing so, the Lead Pastor will look to the Executive Pastor for daily encouragement, steadfastness, wisdom, and a good sounding board on making various decisions.
The Lead Pastor will also rely on the Executive Pastor to handle the countless administrative needs of the church. Administrative needs include overseeing the various staff positions and employees. The Executive Pastor should handle all matters pertaining to staff development, employment, and hiring/firing procedures. Depending on the size of the church, the Executive Pastor has the potential of leading and being responsible for up to several hundred employees.
It is also the responsibility of the Executive Pastor to assist with the functions of the staff. He should handle the various day-to-day needs of the staff such as time away, vacation, and other similar matters. The Executive Pastor should also be respected and looked at as the leader with the staff, keeping them accountable to fulfilling their daily responsibilities to the church and their relationship and function with the Lead Pastor. He should also be involved in the spiritual development of the staff, holding each employee accountable to keeping a personal quiet time and ensuring they are growing in their walk with God.
Finances and Operations
Perhaps a large responsibility of the Executive Pastor, often times working and communicating through committees, will be leading in the area of finances and operations for the church. His continual work with church finances is an important role and one that should be stewarded well. When done well, he will help lead the church into sound financial decisions that could strengthen its abilities to do ministry. He is also to oversee the physical buildings and operations of the church. This includes overseeing and ensuring their need for routine maintenance and overall general upkeep and repair.
The Executive Pastor is also responsible for keeping a sound and workable relationship with lay leadership. He will find himself working with many committees and chairman of those committees. As he works alongside lay leadership, he should be leading by example in teaching them sound and biblical leadership and assisting them in their various areas of work within the church. It is vital that he keeps the Lead Pastor informed of each committee and their function.
The Executive Pastor must also take on the role of a servant. Being aware of the servant role he plays, he will better lead and work alongside the church staff, employees, and lay leadership. He must make sure that he maintains a personal walk with the Lord. This will keep him aware and accountable to his speech, actions, and maintaining a servant’s heart and attitude. This is crucial in maintaining respect among the people he is called to lead.
In his most basic form, the role of an Executive Pastor is to be a leader. It is not the expectation, nor is it possible, that he will know about every interworking and function of the church. There may be several areas that he is an expert in and several areas where he is needing to learn. However, the Executive Pastor should be willing to further educate himself, be flexible, and remain teachable in his role.
The education of an Executive Pastor is important. Thus, a college degree is recommended, and a master’s level is preferred.
Many Executive Pastors come from the secular, business world and tend to be very accomplished in their life’s work. However, as previously mentioned, a divine call into ministry must be on their life to enter this position successfully and for the health of the church. Although the church is a blend of the business world and that of ministry. The church must refuse the temptation to let it become all business driven, losing the ministry aspect of loving and serving people. Therefore, the Executive Pastor must see both sides, business and ministry, and seek to balance them and allow them to complement one another. Most Lead Pastor’s and Search Committees call a person that has proven themselves, either by their experience or by their walk with God. Again, a well-balanced person with proven leadership skills, integrity, good character, and a solid work-ethic will best fill the role of an Executive Pastor.
The Necessity of the Role
It is often not until a church begins to have over 1,000 in attendance, that they seek to fulfill an Executive Pastor role. Due to the constant ministry demands that come along with a larger church size and turbulent culture, the Lead Pastor needs a second man to relieve the day-to-day responsibilities and operations. The vital need for the church to assist and support the Lead Pastor, in leading the church well, will bring about the need and call of an Executive Pastor.
Finding God’s Man
Most of the time, a Lead Pastor will seek a man for the role and position of Executive Pastor. Whether he has previously known him, feels he is qualified, or contacts other pastors for recommendations, the Lead Pastor tends to look for a man that will complements his own personal needs, weaknesses, requirements, and assumed responsibilities. Often, he will look for help from his current staff, lay leadership, or even various Placement Employment Organizations to help fill this role. No matter how the Lead Pastor finds a candidate for the Executive Pastor position, most Lead Pastors will seek to have church committees come alongside him and assess those he chooses to move forward with in interview.
The skills of any number two position, no matter the organization or company, can qualify for the position of Executive Pastor (see A Call and Responsibilities for recommended qualifications). Withholding and demonstrating leadership qualities, as well as administrative skills, are ideal for a candidate for this position. A history of working in Southern Baptist Convention and local association leadership roles are also an advantage to the role of an Executive Pastor. Experience in roles such as administration, staff coordinator roles, church business administration, state convention levels of employment, associational directors, and serving in other areas within in larger churches will help in this role.