Executive pastor options on a large church staff

Every situation is different, a little, but there are some advantages to a
strong team joining the lead pastor to form the “office of the executive
pastor” instead of having one person do that.

Senior or lead pastor: the leader of staff, the pastor-in-chief, the CEO of the church and staff.

Executive pastor: often the co-leader of staff, the vice-president, the COO of the church and staff.

The board: hopefully they are overseers who care for the boundaries of the church (see“The Soccer Field” papers) and allow the staff to “play on the infield.” They call and review the senior pastor, who leads and reviews (or has a system for this)_ the others on the staff.

They could be listed first here, because the senior pastor reports to them.

Administrative pastor or director of administration: often the leader of the financial and facilities side of the ministries and church.

Associate or senior associate pastors: others who lead ministries and have a segment of the ministries as their responsibility. In a large church each will have assistant pastors and directors of areas of ministry reporting to them.
Three main options for the role and duties of the executive

1. Executive or senior associate pastor.

+ It is clear who manages the ministries at the direction of the senior.

+ If this person is loyal to the senior and understands the enabling role, this can work well.

– Sometimes the senior loses touch with staff, by “moving upstairs,” and there is a different mood and direction, sometimes even without the senior’s realization.

– There can be bottleneck at this one person’s desk, and lack of synergy and the creativity and chemistry that can come with a stronger and larger team approach to leadership thinking.

– Sometimes the person who is good at the “executive” role is not built with a “pastor’s heart,” and is just a good manager or executive,  therefore hurting themood and ministry.

2. Three or four associate pastors or senior associates who join with the senior pastor to be the leadership team

+ More staff leaders own the leadership visions and dreams. Closer to “a multitude of counselors.”

+ With four or five on the dream-and-envision-and-assign team, there is more creativity and perspective. This is enhanced when one or more on this leadership team (I simply called ours “ETeam”) are women.

+ The same people who join the senior pastor to dream and envision with him will be the ones to carry it out in their areas of ministry. They will not be one step separated from the development of the goals. All of the reports on staff, even a very large one, come under the responsibilities of the members of this team.

+ One of the members can be the worship pastor, who usually has strong influence on the mood and direction of the church — if that person is more than an artist.

+ One of the members of this team can be a director over finances and facilities, which are always involved in dreams and plans for the church — but only if that administrative leader is not a “bean-counter” who cannot pray and dream well.

+ One of these senior associates or associates can still be the #2 person, and known as such, “first among equals” among the associates. This can help in carrying out plans. (Sometimes this person is called the senior associate pastor and the others the associate pastors. Some of us think the title “executive pastor” can be perceived as more executive

–colder in one way — than pastoral — warmer.)

– There are more than two people to make the meeting and to spend the time.

– There can be negative feelings of others on staff because they are not asked to be on this leadership team.

– There can be more arguments or pushback to the senior because there are more people to do that (though I think this is an advantage, to consider all angles).

– Sometimes there are not three or four other strong leaders-dreamers on the staff (though perhaps this calls for the development of them).

3. Everyone reports to the senior pastor or, in some churches,
to the board.

+ This is the way it should be (reporting to the pastor) when there are one or four or five others on the staff.

+ The leadership plan is clear and simple.

– If there are more than four reporting to the senior pastor, he has too
many reports.

– If any staff other than the pastor reports to the board, count on
confusion and frustration. All staff must report to the leader who is there
with them every day and giving his life and heart to this church in a loving
and careful way.

Suggestion for Christmas

1.   A special weekday service – lights or ornament to represent people who passed away that year –

A.   with special prayer for each
B.   with chance for each to say a word about person who died
C.   a few carols
D.   a 5-minute devotional about why Christ came

2.  Gift to shut-ins delivered by pastor or staff, with thanks for the past.
3.  Christmas eve services – early for kids and later for older. (11:00 pm was most popular.)
4.  College students to pastor’s house for cider and doughnuts (7:00-9:00 pm, or stated hours so they know not all evening).
5.  Letter to high school seniors about Christmas and their futures.
6.  Start carols early. All ages like carols.
7.  Do not hesitate to sponsor a special end-of-year giving offering, whether or not you like to call it a Christmas gift to Christ or the church. Other ministries are asking your people, and many need to give in a special way at the end of the year.
8.  A letter to church to thank them and express love from you and staff. Include all staff.
9.  Honor the staff with a “Thanksgiving benefit” to use for family Christmas. (Obviously only in a strong year – we’re talking $100, $200, or $300, not massive.)
10  .Project to help needy in community with food baskets and turkeys. Church people turn in names and deliver.
11.  Sermon series from Old Testament or Isaiah or “Christmas in the Letters” – not always traditional Matthew or Luke sermons.
12.  Church building decorated by Sunday after Thanksgiving.
13.  Three-minute interviews during all December in worship services, for people to be asked about both how they began with Christ and how they continue. (You hold the microphone.😊)


praySuggestions for a way to pray in public, and especially for prayer in Sunday and home groups  — to get more involved and attached.

  •  Because so many group prayer times are really request times,  with little time left to pray….
  • Because so many group prayer times are only about “surgeries and accidents”…..
  • Because sometimes one or two people pray long prayers in group prayers,  inhibiting others …..

Continue reading “P-R-A-Y”

A Plea For Public Prayer

Thoughts on a missing part of church worship, with some possibilities for a reinstatement

It is not that a worship time for a church does not work without a planned worship and request prayer. Many churches do very well without it. And no one complains. But…

…All of us who follow God’s ways are clearly commanded to pray. And Jesus taught His disciples to pray.

…Spontaneous prayers by a guitarist are not very worshipful, and they do not model prayer for families or individuals, though they are often good examples of praise and heartfelt love. (Sometimes they are just indicators that the leader liked the previous song :-). Continue reading “A Plea For Public Prayer”

Write me a job description that is pure joy!

First responsibility: Live in connection with Christ Jesus, Lord of all times and the universe.

Second: Love His people with actions and words.   Show what it looks like to be connected with Christ.

Think of and practice ways to get word of God’s grace and love out to people who do not do church.

Study the Word of truth and wisdom and teach it to the church every week with passion and application.

Help to organize and manage the church volunteers and groups and activities so all the above happens a lot.

Get paid for all this,  so you can give it strong attention!

Whoa — I’ll take it!



You know it is true:  many people float at their work instead of swim. Some of them even practice “the dead man’s float” — a maneuver  a Navy pilot taught me.  You can float in onespot for a might long time. But that is not what we want.  We shall swim.  Make progress.  Cover some distance,  make progress in loveand grace and more at this church. And that is what these notes are about: pastoring with joy,  making progress, headway, and seeing good happen. They are what others and I have learned and are learning about doing this wonderful gift called church, and seeing people grow in their faith and their “combination life” with Christ our Lord. See what helps you swim better.
Trying to avoid the float, Knute


Suggestions for a way to pray in public, and especially for prayer in Sunday and home groups  — to get more involved and attached.

Because so many group prayer times are really request times,  with little time left to pray….
Because so many group prayer times are only about “surgeries and accidents”…..
Because sometimes one or two people pray long prayers in group prayers,  inhibiting others …..
Crucial for this to work well:  there is a leader who moderates the whole prayer time,  instructing as needed,  and modeling what a short prayer is!

Praise/  Repent (and about character)/ Ask/ Yield Continue reading “PRAY”

Leadership Development

Why do we make it hard

  1. Because it is. We learned very little about it in school, and very few of us had strong leaders who deliberately built skills and desires into our lives. And we do not get much time to travel together like Paul did with Timothy or Titus.
  2. We use books too much. A lot of them make it complicated.
  3. Maybe we should just have two subjects to impart: character and church.   CE National has discussion guides from Bible verses on these two subjects, by the way.
  4. We forget it is just TLC – time with men in a group of 4 to 6 others, Love shown and said, and Content of the scripture that hits the heart.
  5. We do not ask ourselves and all staff to lead a group of 4 to 6 others to develop in character strength and church leadership.

Continue reading “Leadership Development”