The purpose of an Executive Pastor

This is probably the clearest I’ve got it so far, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while. The purpose of an Executive Pastor is to:

  1. Help the Team Leader ‘lead’.
  2. Support the Team as it ‘teams’.
  3. Keep gospel work absolutely central.

If an Executive Pastor plays a special role for the church, it is primarily helping the Senior Pastor as they “lead”. And right there you have to stop, because every SP is different with different skills, strengths, weaknesses and tendencies. As such, a good EP will “shadow” their SP and try to take on whatever takes up most of their SP’s energy. Thus no two EPs will be the same. (That said, some common EP responsibilities are; facilities oversight and management, strategic planning, resource management, financial management, policies, insurance, legal, IT, communications, calendar oversight, vendor relations, fundraising, etc.)

But the SP is not the only thing they help manage. The EP plays an important role in keeping the SP’s team to keep on being a team, to keep being on track. Again, since each SP and each Team is different, this will look like various things. One common aspect is to see what’s sapping the team’s energy most and trying to put things in place to offset that. (E.g. If all your team is exhausting themselves with IT issues, don’t wait for them all to fix it themselves, get someone to come in and help everyone. If they’re all struggling to keep organised, develop a system that will help them not hinder them.)

However, the last aspect of an EP’s role is the most important. It’s keeping the gospel work as the priority while they do the things around it. I’ve heard stories of Church Managers who have crippled their church staff with red-tape, policies and procedures to such an extent that the staff do less people work… they all become servants of the EP. But that’s the wrong way around. The EP is always a servant of the gospel and a slave of the team.

A great picture of this is Stephen in Acts 6. The Apostles can’t keep up with the logistic activity of food distribution, so to keep focused on gospel work and prayer they appoint people like Stephen… who then goes and preaches, gets arrested and martyred. Now that’s a good EP!

Aside: When is it an Executive Pastor, General Manager, Administrative Leader, etc?
We’ve made the decision that a large part of my responsibilities is to prayerfully pastor people and speak into pastoral situations in an executive (high-level) manner. I’d suggest that if an Exec Pastor is not preaching or playing a key role in high-level pastoral decisions, they might be better titled “General Manager” or “Executive Director”.

The difference between counselling and pastoring is…

The difference between counselling and pastoring is charging.

A good counsellor will only ever help people to identify and make up their own mind about morality. They might try and influence it, but they will never ever impose their own beliefs on their clients. (Ok, they “should” never do that… I have heard of many bad counsellors that do).

But although Pastoring includes helping people work though their issues, it is not limited to that. Pastoring includes telling people right from wrong, calling people to repent from things they don’t actually think are wrong… all done prayerfully and from the pages of the bible. Pastoring includes charging people with their responsibilities before God.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
2Timothy 4:1-2


Be sad, but not surprised, when people lie

Even though you’ve read the bible with them, prayed with them, and cried with them… people will still lie to your face.
They’ll lie about their sin, they’ll lie about their feelings towards you, they’ll lie about what they are going to do.
Don’t expect it, don’t assume it, don’t get angry about it, and don’t pre-emptively act on it, but at the same time, don’t be surprised.
Be sad, mourn sin, but know the extent of the fallen world we live in enough that you’re not shocked by it.

Why Oxygen2014 is valuable

This year I’ve been given the opportunity to go to Oxygen2014 – as a blogger/reporter. I reckon that’s an offer that’s pretty hard to refuse. And it comes back to what makes inter-church conferences valuable.

Inter-church conferences are when people from many churches gather for an event – as opposed to people from one church having their own event (Like we’re doing this week at forge2014!!!). It could be 1 day, weekend, or a whole week.

But there are two basic reasons to go to an inter-church conference… either

  1. to facilitate friendship with other Christians from other churches, or
  2. to facilitate friendships within your church members

See, if you’ve got a small church, chances are you don’t need to run your own church conference – everyone already knows each other. Going away for 3 days isn’t really going to make that much of a difference. In fact, if your flock has been part of a small church for years, they might need reminding that Jesus’ church is massive by going along to a inter-church conference, and meeting all these other Christians and being encouraged that they’re not the only ones. Those conferences are usually smaller (50-500 people). If’ you’re organising a smallish inter-church conferences, that should be one of your goals… facilitating people meeting new people and having to chat.

If you’ve got a bigger church, chances are that many of the people DON’T know each other very well. Those people don’t need to meet and chat with Christians from other churches, rather they need to get to know each other better and form their own relationships. So you’ve got two options. Either run your own church-conference so they spend the time with each other, or, go to a very large inter-church conference AS A GROUP that sticks together.

This is what we’ve done with Men’s Convention over the past few years. We knew we really needed our guys to get to know each other better. They didn’t have the time for a few conferences a year, and we couldn’t run our own, so we hire a bus and go to Katoomba Men’s convention as a group, we stay together and, while enjoying being with 2000+ guys, we try to get to know each other better first.

This comes back to why Oxygen2014 is valuable. It’s for that relatively small group of church “leaders”. Not just senior pastors, but those people who bare some level of responsibility for their church. It’s usually a lonely job. Paul knows it…

Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2Cor 11:28)

Oxygen2014 gives leaders the chance to meet and be encouraged by other leaders who know what it’s like.

Become a “ministry in broken play” asset #everythingcomesbacktorugby

There’s two ways of thinking about ministry; One type of ministry work is being the structure asset; the person who makes the structure work, who can gather the people and make the formal, programmed event happen. You can run a class, run a growth group, preach a sermon. We love these guys!

The other type of ministry work is being a broken play asset. “Broken play” is a concept in sport where the ball is in play, but neither team has a set play in action, it’s almost every man for himself, but there’s still team work going on. These are the people who hang around after the class, after the growth-group, after the sermon. They just sidle up beside someone, strike up a conversation, and apply the word of God into that person’s life.

Notice that broken play ministry is NOT just having a good conversation with someone. It’s got to be ministry – applying the word of God into someone’s life.

Yes, some people find this type of ministry easier than others. But this is something we should all try and develop skills in; becoming a team of broken-play experts.

“don’t tell me if you don’t want to”

If you’re in pastoral ministry; teaching the bible, meeting up with people, etc., you start to loom large in people’s eyes. And that’s not bad per se. It’s partly how God has made humans. But it requires some important caveats.

If you ask people a question, especially a personal question about sin or their personal struggles, they will feel obliged to tell you – even if they don’t really want to. They will feel more obliged to tell you (their pastor) than someone else.

Now, on one hand, that’s simply their problem. They “should” know that you’re not their priest, and they don’t need confess to you if they don’t want to. Jesus is their Lord, and you’re just a brother or sister, offering a chance to talk – that they don’t have to take up if they don’t want to.

And that’s the key… You (as their pastor) know they don’t HAVE to answer to you, confess to you, share their struggles with you. But do they know that?!? Have you pastored them to know that? Maybe not?

So do still ask those hard questions (because they’re good questions to ask), but be humble enough to also say, “Don’t tell me if you don’t want to”.

Help them to make the decision themselves, not just let you make it for them.