In the 8 1/2 years that Element Church has existed we have had an Executive Pastor for 7 of those years. People sometimes ask me, “If you could do anything different in planting a church what would you do?” I always tell them that one of the first things I would do is hire an Executive Pastor sooner. If you want to know specifically, I think I would hire the first three people (After the Lead Past0r) on a church staff in this order: 1. Worship Pastor 2. Kids Pastor 3. Executive Pastor
Some people don’t know what an Executive Pastor (XP) is. The XP is not the Senior Leader in the church but they are the right hand person to that leader. Many people hear “Executive Pastor” and they think “The guy in charge”. That’s not typically the case. If the Lead Pastor casts the vision the XP makes sure the vision gets accomplished. They are the executer of the vision, making sure that every department and every person is aligned properly to fulfill the mission and vision of the church. They typically oversee all things when it comes to finances, facilities, staff, as well as the churches systems, structures and procedures (and more). The role of the XP might be the most diverse of anyone in the church, and as a church grows, it might be the most crucial cog in the wheel.
I have been blessed with two AMAZING Executive Pastors. Both Pastor Derek and Pastor Kody have done some things that I think every XP needs to do for their pastor. While they do many more things than this, here are a few that stand out to me that I hope every Lead Pastor gets from the XP.
1. “What are you doing that you need to stop doing?” — Pastor Kody was always asking me this question. It was almost like clock work. About every 3 or 4 weeks he would come into my office and ask me, “Are you doing anything that you don’t want to be doing or shouldn’t be doing?” What was behind that question? He was asking, “Are you able to focus on what only you should focus on in the church?” When the Lead Pastor gets involved in too many things in the church then he can’t be invested in the things that matter most for him in the church.
2. “Do you need anything?” — Again, almost like clock work, at about 6:30 am every Sunday I get a text from Pastor Derek, “Do you need anything today?” What’s he really saying? He’s saying, “I don’t want you distracted from the sermon today so can I get or do something for you?” A good XP knows that his Lead Pastor’s mind needs to be as focused on the message each Sunday as he possibly can. The smallest things can cloud the pastors mind before he preaches. A good XP will try and chase away the clouds as best he can. Derek has gone to the grocery store for me before, contacted people for me, checked on my family and more.
3. “What are you dreaming about?” — Pastor Kody asked me this question a lot. Sometimes I didn’t have an answer, but he was always giving me a platform to share my dreams to at least one person….him. A good XP knows that their Lead Pastor is probably a dreamer. Us dreamers know that most of our dreams sound crazy to people but we still want to share them with someone. Our XP is often the first person to hear our crazy dreams. We don’t chase all of them, but many of them would never be chased were it not for our XP.
4. “You probably need to know about this.” — That is not always followed by good news but it is a necessary evil for Executive Pastors. As the Lead Pastor of our church, I don’t need to know about everything that’s going on but I need to know some of the things going on. One of the hardest parts of an Executive Pastors job is choosing what to share with the Lead Pastor and what not to share. Both Pastor Derek and Pastor Kody do a phenomenal job of keeping their Lead Pastor informed of the most necessary information at the most appropriate time. Again, they want to keep their pastor focused on what’s most important, so determining what to share and what not to share takes a lot of wisdom and practice.
5. “I’ll take care of it.” — This might be the most valuable thing any Executive Pastor can say. The busiest, most burdened staff member in the church might be the Executive Pastor. They typically have to carry the entire staff and financial burden of the organization. They often times deal with things that no one else knows about, not even the Senior Pastor. Most of the time, they are already burning both ends of the candle, but a good XP knows when they need to say, “I’ll take care of it!” The best XP’s understand, I may not be the one preaching on Sunday, but if I take care of this then I am releasing my pastor to be that person, so “I’ll take care of it.” Whatever IT is!
Derek and Kody, thank you for being GREAT Executive Pastors. Both of you set the bar high in your field. I was and am blessed to have you as my right hand men. Keep leading well!