Executive Pastors’ Perception of Leadership and Management Competencies Needed for Local Church Administration

///Executive Pastors’ Perception of Leadership and Management Competencies Needed for Local Church Administration

Executive Pastors’ Perception of Leadership and Management Competencies Needed for Local Church Administration

The following is a dissertation written by an Executive Pastor. To aid in making the information more readable on the web, the footnotes have been removed. To view footnotes, charts, Appendices and the Reference List, please view the PDF found directly beneath the article.

Chapter 1—Research Concern

Leadership and management skills are critical for the pastor to manage even the smallest congregation. Traditionally, administrators, both laymen and professional, have assisted pastors in leading and managing the financial, facility, and related administrative functions in many churches. The growth of a church usually includes an increase in giving, congregants, professional staff members, and lay volunteer ministers. With this growth, the role of the pastor becomes more complex in order to meet not only the spiritual needs of the congregation, but also the strategic, operational, and personnel functions.

Pastors are called upon regularly to preach, visit, counsel, console, and provide spiritual leadership. Pastors are also expected to set the vision for the church, develop the strategy, communicate clearly the purpose and direction of the local congregation, manage and lead change, build and maintain the team of lay leaders, and shepherd people in the church including the ministry staff. He is called on to accomplish this while balancing his spiritual relationship with God and maintaining healthy relationships with his family. The expectation of success in each of these areas by the pastor, the congregation, or his family is unrealistic for most ministers. Some possible causes of these unrealistic expectations of pastors are explained by Nauss in his studies on ministerial effectiveness and ministers as managers.

Through the years, however, at least in America, the parish has changed gradually from the neighborhood church or ethnic conclave to a more actively involved and mission-oriented assembly with members from diverse backgrounds. In the past century the minister has become responsible for additional charges, such as evangelistic work, equipping the members, administering an office or directing a staff, and becoming active in community affairs, all of which can be shown to have some basis in Scripture.

Research Problem

In meeting the challenge of balancing both the managing and the shepherding of the church, a new position entitled executive pastor is evolving. Attempting to review sources on church staff positions, this author found very little research on the executive pastor. There were studies with stated purposes relating to ministers as managers, administration within the church, time-management, and ministerial effectiveness. Few researchers had specifically attempted a diagnosis of the executive pastor.

A library search revealed only one article containing the term executive pastor in the title or subject area. The other available material included a brief description from the Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education. Leadership Network held a forum in 2001 providing summary information entitled The Executive Pastor Code. Rex Frieze, an organizational consultant and former executive pastor, developed a job description for the executive minister. Defining Moments, an audiotape series from the Willow Creek Association, provided a recorded interview with Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, and Greg Hawkins, Executive Pastor, of Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Illinois.

This author located two unpublished works on the subject of the executive pastor. The first was “The Role, Relationships and Responsibilities of an Executive Pastor” by Dan Reiland, a church organizational consultant and executive pastor. The second was “Playing Second Fiddle” by Tommy Kiedis, a former executive pastor and at the time of this study, the Dean of the Chapel at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. Both of these articles provided insight into the function of the executive pastor.

While this study attempted to take a descriptive view of the current practices of the executive pastor, completing the process was not the focus. Neither a competency model nor a complete definition was intended. This research continued the process of understanding and defining the role of the executive pastor.

Pastor Training

A study by Larry Purcell observed that there were forty-one forced terminations reported by Southern Baptist Churches in Kentucky in 1999. This number may have been larger as these were only the reported cases. The top five reasons for these forced terminations as reported by the Kentucky Baptist Convention Leadership Development Department were:

  1. Pastor/Staff was too controlling.
  2. The church was resistant to change.
  3. The church was already in conflict when the pastor/staff person arrived.
  4. The pastor/staff person possessed poor people skills.
  5. The pastor/staff person’s leadership style was too strong.

Reviewing these reasons for forced termination pointed to two overarching factors for a disconnection between the pastor and congregation. Either the pastor had poor leadership or influencing skills (numbers 1, 4, and 5) or the pastor had poor change management skills (numbers 2 and 3). Experience and training could have been the two determining factors in assisting these pastors to hold their positions and grow healthy churches. An additional reason for termination may have been the lack of time to practice these critical areas of leadership and management of the church. Obviously, these men may not have been called to the ministry or had other issues, but the end result remained the same. These pastors lacked either leadership and management gifts or they failed to employ the skills they possessed due to an unknown limiting factor.

Academics over Practice

One solution may be to view critically the education pastors received prior to service in the local church. The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust Review of Graduate Theological Education provided some critical insight into the importance of leadership and management training for church leaders. The first area of concern raised by this review as related to leadership and management training was that seminaries focused more on academics than on the practice of the ministry. While some denominations and seminaries may be practicing a more balanced approach, this study covered seminaries in general. As cited in the overview by Gary Grieg of the Review of Graduate Education in the Pacific Northwest, the Murdock Review Program Officer John Woodyard stated:

Seminaries … give their graduates skills to study the Bible and theology but not skills to lead the modern church. The seminaries … continue to emphasize academics. Pastors believe seminary professors do not understand their need for ministry skills or mentors. Professors often view pastors and the church as ‘anti-intellectual.’ Seminaries often turn a deaf ear to the needs of the local church and arrogantly defend scholarly education.

Seminaries should not lower their academic standards. They should continue to focus on both quality academic education and practical training. In the same article, Kenneth Meyers, President of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School at the time of the study, stated:

The curriculum has called for professionals of the academy rather than professionals of the church. The truth is, students will model their professors. In our

[seminary] some 75% of faculty have never pastored a church longer than an intern[ship] during graduate studies. Is it no wonder that graduates come out “heady” and lacking ministry skills?

The challenge faced by seminaries is how to provide quality theological education and leadership training in the two or three years of full-time study required in their curriculum.

Skill Priority

Additional evidence supporting the argument for more leadership and management training came from a review of ministry priorities as stated by lay people, pastors, and seminary professors. The 1994 Murdock Trust study revealed eight areas of priority.

  1. Character
  2. Communication skills
  3. Counseling skills
  4. Leadership skills
  5. Management abilities
  6. Relational skills
  7. Spirituality
  8. Theological knowledge

Eight hundred lay people, pastors, and professors were surveyed revealing different priorities for each area. Lay people listed the priorities in this order: spirituality, relational skills, character, communication skills, and finally theological knowledge. The pastors’ priorities were relational skills, management abilities, communication skills, spirituality, and finally theological knowledge. The professors’ priorities listed theological knowledge first followed by character, leadership skills, communication skills, and then counseling skills. While many of the priorities were the same in the top five, the practitioners looked to leadership and management attributes over theological knowledge. Regardless, leadership skills, management abilities, relational skills, and communication skills were cited as critical across the board.

Some pastors have the spiritual gifts and skills necessary to lead and administer. The pastor who does not possess these gifts needs familiarity with leadership and management principles in order to gather around him others in the congregation who have these gifts. Malloy and Smith stated that one of the imperatives of an equipping church is to equip people to use their gifts in service. “The role of leaders in the church community is to equip others to use their gifts so that everyone can grow”

The Minister’s Dilemma

The debate over the seminary curriculum will continue. The question at hand may not be one of education and training alone. Using the same skills in one situation may be a cause of failure in another setting.

Early in their careers, pastors serve as the entire church staff: Pastor, secretary, education director, worship leader, youth leader and perhaps janitor. Later through promotions and moves, the minister will likely have a staff to manage the various functions of ministry. This is often a difficult transition. The pastor, who has previously been rewarded for effectively performing all the staff functions, must now delegate and manage these functions.

The core issue may be more related to the complexity of the organization and unrealistic expectations placed on pastors. Seminaries must continue to spend a large amount of time teaching their students church history, ancient languages, theology, and how to communicate truth. This is foundational understanding for a minister and should not be discounted.

George Barna observed, “I have witnessed pastor after pastor extensively trained to exegete the Scriptures, and gifted to communicate God’s truth, undeniably fail when it comes to guiding the body of believers.” The average size church in America is approximately one hundred people. Typically a pastor-shepherd can minister to these people without having to employ leadership or management principles beyond himself. The issues arise when churches stagnate or decline and the congregation begins to get uncomfortable with the church and the pastor. Pastors and staff members must have skills to lead their congregations through troubled times and times of change and growth.

The balance of the practices necessary for adequate pastoral leadership and church management is a topic of long-term research. As early as 1956, Samuel Blizzard provided research on the activities occupying pastors’ time. This research asked 690 pastors to evaluate six roles of the pastor on three aspects. The roles determined were pastor, preacher, priest, teacher, organizer, and administrator. The three aspects rated were effectiveness, enjoyment, and importance. Information on time spent in each role was also collected. From a practitioner’s perspective, one may deduce that a pastor in this study spent the most time on administrative activities that he least enjoyed, felt were least important, and in which he believed himself to be least effective.

Table 1. Relationship between minister’s time, effectiveness, enjoyment, and importance in pastoral roles N = 690

Rating*

Role

Time

Effectiveness

Enjoyment

Importance

Administrator

1

5

6

6

Pastor

2

2

1

2

Preacher

3

1

2

1

Priest

4

4

4

3

Organizer

5

6

5

5

Teacher

6

3

3

4

*Rating scale: 1 = most, 6 = least.

The biblical mandate for the pastor is clear. He is to be above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6-7) and the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). The book of Timothy instructs that a pastor must be temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money, able to manage his own household well, not a new convert, and enjoying a good reputation with those outside the church (1 Tim. 3:2-7). While the role in Scripture is clear, the expectations of both pastors and congregations are not aligned at times. The ways in which pastors practice their ministry are more subjective. Very few men are able to excel at every skill required for the important role of leading a local church.

The Need for Clarity

The executive pastor is a new phenomenon in many churches of varying sizes across the United States. This function is a pastoral role that is focused primarily on the development and maintenance of the staff and the church organization. While there were examples of the existence of the executive pastor, there appeared to be little consistency in understanding the role, the specifications, and the definition of the position. Some considered the executive pastor to be the church administrator, while others understood this position to be an extension of the role of the minister of education. One may conclude that this position is similar to the chief operating officer (COO) in for-profit or not-for-profit organizations. Still others stated that the COO model is not as accurate as referring to the executive pastor as the chief of staff.

Bringing clarity and understanding to the necessary leadership and management practices common to executive pastors lays the groundwork for developing the next generation of executive pastors and supporting those currently in place. Additionally, clarity of the position may assist churches in determining the appropriateness for their particular situation. The existing articles provided a basic understanding of the executive pastor. Additional research was needed to qualify the definitions provided thus far.

Research Purpose

Leadership and management competencies, abilities or practices have been identified by for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. There were also identified competencies in the fields of theology and Christian education that were cited as important to pastors. This qualitative, descriptive research study was intended to observe this new phenomenon by identifying the executive pastor’s self-perception of the leadership and management competencies important to this position. Demographic data, including professional experience, was studied to identify relationships between the executive pastor’s response and his background.

The fifty competencies identified in a 1988 study of pastoral managerial competencies by Stephen A. Boersma were foundational to this study. This research compared and contrasted the findings of this study with the Boersma findings. The result of this study provides insight into which practices the executive pastors in the population utilize on the job. This study may also provide a process to study required leadership and management practices in other ministry positions. This research may be valuable to institutions focused on training and developing church leaders.

Delimitations of the Study

The focus of this study sought to gain an understanding of the competencies of executive pastors, while moving toward a definition of the position. There were intentional limitations in the scope of the research design and the subsequent limitations as to how the findings could be generalized. Geographic, denominational, and organizational limitations had an effect upon the generalizations of the findings of this study.

  1. This study was limited to churches in the United States.
  2. This study was limited to churches that are part of the Southern Baptist Convention.
  3. This study was limited to churches with an individual functioning as executive pastor.
  4. This study was limited to individuals who are members of the Mega-Metro Executive Pastors’ Conference.

Research Questions

The following questions were used to guide this study:

  1. What are the similarities and differences of the demographic characteristics such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size within the population of the executive pastors?
  2. What is the rank order and relative agreement of the perceived competency importance reported by the executive pastors?
  3. How do the mean rank order results of the Boersma study of pastoral management competencies compare and contrast to the mean rank order of the executive pastors?
  4. What are the identifiable characteristics, such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size that are associated with the importance rating of the competencies?
  5. What is the relationship between the self-reported job satisfaction, performance, and preparation ratings of the executive pastors?

Terminology

For the purpose of this study the following definitions were provided:

Administration. This function is set apart from leadership and management on some occasions. Administration can be defined as managing the details of executive affairs. This term can also be defined as, “The management of projects, supervision of others, and implementing of policies. Administration is different from leadership in that administration executes policy rather than creating it.”

Administrative staff. This staff group consists of the people, paid or unpaid, within a local church who are responsible for the day-to-day detailed operations. While administrative tasks can be delineated from leadership and ministry tasks, this position is critical and required for smooth ministry operation.

Business administrator. The person who holds this position concentrates his efforts on managing the finances, facilities, and support staff of the church. This position usually reports to the executive pastor. When referring to the difference between the executive pastor and the business administrator, Reiland posited, “The two are very different positions, correctly staffed by two very different persons.”

In a telephone interview with John Russell, the president of the Mega-Metro Executive Pastors’ Conference at the time of this study, related this perspective on the function of the business administrator: “I always view the business administrator’s role in terms of three Fs: finances, facilities, and food.” Webber referred to six areas that were supported by the National Association of Church Business Administrators (NACBA). “We can identify six basic areas of responsibility of a church business administrator: finance, data processing, personnel, physical plant, strategic planning, and church protocol.”

Competencies. Competencies by some were defined as abilities. One could say that competence equals ability. Hersey, Blanchard, and Johnson extended this definition of ability by showing the components of ability as knowledge, skill, and experience. “Knowledge is demonstrated understanding of a task, skill is demonstrated proficiency and experience is demonstrated ability gained from performing a task.”

A more technical definition showing a relationship to predetermined criteria was “An underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to criterion referenced effective [and or] superior performance in a job or situation.” Competency analysis is conducted against a criterion reference rather than a comparative analysis. The objective is to understand what competencies are necessary for a job or role. Regardless of the environment for which leadership and management competencies are defined, they may be important for use in the local church.

Factor. In the Boersma survey instrument, the fifty competencies were delineated into three competency or skill groupings. These sub-grouping were related to pathfinding skills, interpersonal skills, and implementation and decision making skills.

Item. In the Boersma survey instrument, this term represents the individual competencies that were rated by the executive pastors.

Leadership. This author defines leadership as the art of painting a vision, creating a path, gathering the resources, guiding people to new places, and creating growth in the individual and organization, while understanding and valuing the past, the culture, and the people. From a spiritual perspective, the definition should also include the concepts of calling, vision from God, and leading others in their Christian life. Means continued developing the idea of the definition of leadership by stating the following:

Spiritual leadership is the development of relationships with the people of a Christian institution or body in such a way that individuals and the group are enabled to formulate and achieve Biblically compatible goals that meet real needs. By their ethical influence, spiritual leaders serve to motivate and enable others to achieve what otherwise would never be achieved.

Gangel identified Christian leadership as “The exercise of one’s spiritual gifts under the call of God to serve a certain group of people in achieving the goals God has given them toward the end of glorifying Christ.” Robert Clinton defined leadership as “A dynamic process in which a man or woman with God-given capacities influences a specific group of God’s people toward His purposes for the group.”

John Maxwell provided the most basic definition of leadership: “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn provided a more industrial definition: “Leadership is the influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with the routine directives of the organization.”

These definitions of leadership give boundaries to leadership practices. Leadership is different from management or even administration. Leadership and management must coexist, as neither is truly possible without the other. Leadership focuses on doing the right things, while management focuses on doing things right. Administration can be defined as the processes and procedures that support the leadership and management function. The ultimate goal of those in authority is to do the right things right.

Management. This discipline is related to planning, organizing, staffing, directing, controlling, and measuring functions of the organization. Management is different from leadership or even administration. Leadership and management must coexist, as neither is truly possible without the other. Leadership focuses on doing the right things, while management focuses on doing things right. Administration can be defined as the processes and procedures that support the leadership and management function. The ultimate goal of those in authority is to do the right things right.

Mega-Metro Executive Pastors’ Conference. The Mega-Metro Executive Pastors’ Conference (MMEPC) limits participation in this organization to those individuals who are functioning as an executive pastor or acting in a “chief of ministry” role. Occasionally, the minister of education, senior associate pastor or director of ministries acts in a role similar to the executive pastor. The group focuses primarily on churches that are Southern Baptist. While membership criteria do not preclude someone in a church other than Southern Baptist to participate, the vast majority of participants are from SBC churches.

The specific criterion for membership is for individuals and churches to meet four out of six of the following criteria:

  1. The worship attendance must have an annual average of three thousand or more.
  2. The Sunday School attendance must have an annual average of two thousand or more.
  3. The annual budget must be at least $4 million.
  4. There must be at least ten full-time equivalent professional ministry staff positions.
  5. The executive pastor or similar function must report directly to the senior pastor.
  6. The executive pastor or similar function must supervise the pastoral staff.

Ministry staff. While pastors are responsible for leading the overall organization, the idea that others are not leaders is incorrect. Anyone holding a position of authority in the local church, even lay leaders, is responsible for leadership results.

Though God calls every Christian into some form of ministry, He has not called everyone to leadership. The New Testament clearly differentiates between saints (church members) in general, and leaders in particular (Acts 15:22; 1 Thes. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).

Leadership is not limited to the pastor alone. Each person on the ministry staff has a responsibility of leadership to those who are following him. This includes ministry area department heads, volunteer positions, and those in other ministry roles responsible for leading the implementation of ministry programming within the church.

Operational Pathfinding. In the Boersma survey instrument, this is a sub-factor (1b) of competency factor 1, Pathfinding Skills. Skills in this sub-factor relate to developing performance standards, developing and maintaining job descriptions, planning and conducting staff evaluations, building and maintaining the organizational chart, conducting program evaluations, and collecting, analyzing, and reporting performance data.

Practices. Webster’s New College Dictionary defined practice as “The repeated mental or physical action for the purpose of learning or acquiring proficiency.” Skill proficiency is acquired through repetition. Some have referred to leadership as an art. Others considered leadership and management a science. This author agrees with those who acquiesce that leadership and management are both art and science. Individuals in leadership positions are practicing while carrying out these acquired skills and abilities on a regular basis. Thus the term practice is appropriate as this term indicates that proficiency in leadership and management is a process rather than a destination.

Senior Pastor. The senior pastor is the executive leader in a local church with the overall responsibility for worship, discipleship, and evangelism within the local church. This person may not be directly responsible for the implementation of programming in each of these areas, but this individual is responsible for understanding the mission, setting the vision, and beginning the strategy process for carrying out the mission.

This position is distinguished from the pastors responsible for education, music, student, or church administrative responsibilities. The pastor may be considered the secular business equivalent of the chief executive officer. While the CEO metaphor breaks down quickly, the pastor is the person responsible for the overall stewardship of the local church. The senior pastor is also the lead shepherd and equipper of the people and the staff in the church. The term senior pastor has been used to denote leadership within a multiple staff team. The appearance of this title does not necessarily designate multiple staff, as a senior pastor may be the only staff member employed in a local church.

Servant Leadership. Servant leadership is best defined as a worldview or attitude of leading others from a perspective of placing the organizational purpose, the needs of the organization, and the needs of people over the needs and desires of the leader.

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This Christian denomination maintains no central church authority over local churches within the organization. The idea of the SBC is a group of cooperating churches with a similar mission. The SBC defined itself in the following way on its organizational website:

The term ‘Southern Baptist Convention’ refers to both the denomination and its annual meeting. Working through 1,200 local associations and 41 state conventions and fellowships, Southern Baptists share a common bond of basic Biblical beliefs and a commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.

Cooperation in the SBC comes through support and annual giving to the Cooperative Program. Most Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their total receipts to the SBC Cooperative Program.

Strategic Pathfinding Skills. In the Boersma survey instrument, this is a sub-factor (1a) of competency factor 1, Pathfinding Skills. Skills in this sub-factor relate to strategic planning, mission and values creation, goals and objectives development, developing and maintaining a staffing plan, and developing and maintaining a goals and objectives measurement systems.

Sub-factor. In the Boersma study, this is a delineation of the higher level factors of pathfinding skills, interpersonal skills, and implementation and decision making skills. The pathfinding skills factor has two sub-factors, strategic pathfinding and operational pathfinding. The interpersonal skills factor has no sub-factor. The implementation and decision making skills factor has three sub-factors, staffing, directing and controlling.

Procedural Overview

Through a precedent literature research of church related leadership and management practices, a competency evaluation instrument was discovered. This instrument entitled “Pastoral Management Competencies Questionnaire” was developed by Stephen A. Boersma as part of his Ph.D. dissertation research at Oregon State University in 1988. This instrument was chosen as applicable to this research effort.

The title of Boersma’s survey suggests that the instrument only evaluates management competencies. The appropriateness of using this survey for leadership and management was revealed through a brief analysis of Boersma’s research. Boersma explored management competencies and organized the data using the Management Process Model developed by Alec Mackenzie 1969. The Mackenzie model includes administration and leadership as tasks within the management process. Leadership and management as functions are intertwined. It has been determined by this author that the resulting list of competencies spans appropriately the disciplines of both leadership and management.

Boersma used a well-defined process to develop the survey instrument. Eighty-two leadership and management competencies were developed by reviewing related literature and screening those skills and observable behaviors that apply to the church context. The survey was validated using a Delphi panel composed of professionals, pastors, and educators in the field of church management. The panel consisted of three senior pastors, two executives from international Christian organizations, two seminary professors responsible for ministerial studies, two ministers with extensive research and publishing in church management, and one seminary executive responsible for continuing education in the area of organizational development. Each panel member was asked to review the list of competencies for their usefulness and to list any recommendations or suggestions for the survey. In the process, the eighty-two competencies were reduced to fifty, with six new items included that were not on the original list. The questionnaire was considered to represent a relatively thorough range of pastoral competencies. Reliability for the instrument was established according to the analysis of variance method suggested by Hoyt and Stunkard. This produced a reliability of +.94 for the questionnaire.

The survey for this study was structured to gain a wide range of demographic information describing the subject and the organization. The data collected included age, race, gender, professional experience, and education background. Organizational information included the number of adults, teenagers, and children who attend on average the weekly worship services, the average weekly Sunday school attendance, the annual church budget, the number of full-time equivalent ministry staff positions, and the organizational structure. Two questions on personal preference regarding the position were also included. The last section of the demographic survey included three questions related to job satisfaction, performance, and preparation in the position of executive pastor. All information gathered through this survey was self-reported by the executive pastor.

The survey instrument and the demographic questionnaire were field-tested to determine the ease of use and how well each question was understood by the participant. Subjects outside of the population were used. These were individuals holding the title executive pastor in churches of similar size to the population, but outside the SBC or the MMEPC. These individuals were enlisted, as their position and organizations were more closely related to those of the population of this study. Edits were made as appropriate to the demographic survey and the process. The Boersma survey was not edited. The instrument was delivered via mail to the sample population, completed, and returned. The data was studied and analyzed according to the research purpose and related research questions. The findings are reported in Chapter 4.

Research Assumptions

While there may be variations in the activities and role of the executive pastor within various churches, the leadership and management competencies that were studied are important to the church itself. Even if a church does not employ an executive pastor, these competencies may still be appropriate and present in the local church. Studying leadership and management practices and competencies for the executive pastor may reveal certain tasks that are underutilized within the local church.

Scripture teaches that certain individuals are set apart for ministry leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-7). This is true of the senior pastor and it is also true for the executive pastor. Anyone who serves in a leadership position within the church must be called by God, as the church is the bride of Jesus Christ. Leadership, management, and administration are ultimately stewardship functions of the church. While these duties may not appear to be spiritual leadership activities, Scripture affirms this form of service and ministry for Christ (1 Cor. 12:27-28; Eph. 4:11-12). Stewardship can be defined as the caring of someone else’s property with the expectation that the owner will one day return. The church belongs to God. The pastor, executive pastor, and any others in leadership positions are responsible for the caring and growing of the church until Christ’s return.

While some people may be called to specific leadership positions within the church, all Christians are called to serve. Some believe that leaders are born. An assumption by this author is that leadership can be taught. Since spiritual growth is the responsibility of all Christians, growth in the area of leadership and management should also be expected within the church. People can learn. People within the church can benefit from leadership and management skills development.

Chapter 2—Precedent Literature

The literature review provides a theological and philosophical foundation for leadership and management. Laying the foundation for the practices that an executive pastor may undertake is the purpose of this section. A review of servant leadership as the biblical foundation for leadership is undertaken initially. A study of secular leadership models appropriate for church administration is provided. This includes definitions of leadership, management, and administration. An additional section on the research findings of ministerial effectiveness and the minister as manager provide insight into the tasks necessary for the minister. Finally, the available research on the role of the executive pastor is analyzed to reveal the practices posited in current literature.

A Theology of Servant Leadership

Many people and organizations define leadership differently. These differences are as varied as the particular circumstances that drive the need to study, analyze, and define leadership. When examining leadership, many various sources for insight are considered. In the Christian community, Scripture is the primary source for discovering a true understanding of leadership. This section is an attempt to uncover some of the major insights Scripture provides about leadership, particularly leaders as servants. Developing a biblical theology of servant leadership will accomplish this task.

The focus of this section is on the New Testament. The assumption is that leaders in the church, especially the executive pastor, will practice leadership and management principles to grow the local church. While there are excellent examples of leadership from the Old Testament, the New Testament in this case provides the most applicable background. Old Testament teaching on leadership and management is applicable, but has been purposely excluded. The leadership principles of Christ and the examples of leadership within the early church provide an essential foundation for understanding the needed competencies of contemporary church managerial leaders.

Terms Defined

To build a biblical theology of servant leadership, one must define biblical theology, leadership, and servant leadership. An assessment of the biblical concepts and principles that define leadership is also required. These components exist within the text of this section. The results of the final analysis is a list of the important biblical principles uncovered during research. Significant New Testament personalities and events are examined and major concepts are discussed in order to build a framework for understanding biblical servant leadership.

Biblical Theology Defined

Several sources have been cited here to assist in building a workable definition of biblical theology and a process for studying servant leadership in the New Testament. One expanded definition of biblical theology is found in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Biblical theology seems best defined as the doctrine of biblical religion. As such, it works upon the material contained in the Old Testament and the New Testament as the product of exegetical study. This is the modern technical sense of the term, whereby it signifies a systematic representation of biblical religion in its primitive form. Biblical theology has sometimes been taken to signify not only the science of the doctrinal declarations of the Scriptures, but the whole group of sciences concerned with the interpretation and exposition of the Scriptures. In that wider view of biblical theology, the term exegetical theology has been used to define and include the group of sciences already referred to. But the whole weight of preference seems, in our view, to belong to the narrower use of the term biblical theology, as more strictly scientific.

Millard Erickson simplifies this definition of biblical theology as the theological content of the Old and New Testaments, or the theology found within the biblical books. Ryrie not only provides an excellent working definition but also assists in creating a framework for studying leadership in the Bible. Ryrie states, “Biblical theology deals systematically with the historically conditioned progress of the self-revelation of God in the Bible.” The process and format of this section follows the revelation of God’s Word as it relates to servant leadership in the New Testament. Kenneth Gangel validates this approach by stating:

These paragraphs make no attempt at either a systematic theology of leadership or a biblical exegesis of leadership. What follows takes the outline of a ‘biblical theology’ defined by Ryrie as ‘that branch of theological science which deals systematically with the historically conditioned progress of the self revelation of God as deposited in the Bible.’ This essay therefore seeks some systematic overview of the progressive revelation of God regarding how He considers leadership to be practiced and taught among His people on earth.

Utilizing Ryrie’s definition and application of biblical theology and Gangel’s framework for servant leadership as it is defined within the progression of God’s revelation, provides an adequate form for this study.

Leadership Defined

Leadership must also be defined in terms of servant leadership. There have been many attempts at corralling leadership ideas into a single definition. It is not presupposed here that this author has accomplished the task while so many others have struggled. A personal definition of leadership should include the basic components of leadership. As stated previously, this author’s attempt to define leadership is the art of painting a vision, creating a path, gathering the resources, guiding people to new places, and creating growth in the individual and organization, while understanding and valuing the past, the culture, and the people.

From a spiritual perspective, the definition should also include the concepts of calling, vision from God, and leading others in their Christian life. As foundational to a New Testament understanding of leadership, Means continues developing the definition of leadership by stating the following:

Spiritual leadership is the development of relationships with the people of a Christian institution or body in such a way that individuals and the group are enabled to formulate and achieve biblically compatible goals that meet real needs. By their ethical influence, spiritual leaders serve to motivate and enable others to achieve what otherwise would never be achieved.

Gangel adds to the definition by identifying Christian leadership as “The exercise of one’s spiritual gifts under the call of God to serve a certain group of people in achieving the goals God has given them toward the end of glorifying Christ.” While Robert Clinton defines leadership as “A dynamic process in which a man or woman with God-given capacities influences a specific group of God’s people toward his purposes for the group.”

John Maxwell provides the most basic definition of leadership: “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn provide a more industrial definition: “Leadership is the influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with the routine directives of the organization.”

These definitions of leadership give boundaries to leadership practices. Leadership is different from management or even administration. Leadership and management must coexist, as neither is truly possible without the other. Leadership focuses on doing the right things, while management focuses on doing things right. Administration can be defined as the processes and procedures that support the leadership and management process. The ultimate goal of those in authority is to do the right things right.

One way to look at this is that leadership without management will lead to frustration while management without leadership will lead to oppression. The competencies mentioned here are related to leadership, but have application to management and administrative practices that assist the organization to operate. The assumption that proper leadership models are appropriate for the church may be extended to management and administration, but that is not within the scope of this section.

Servant Leadership Defined

Servant leadership is another term that must be clear before proceeding with the foundational survey. There have been attempts to explain servant leadership. Just as there is much difficulty and confusion in delineating between management and leadership, understanding the relationship of servant leadership to leadership in general is also a problem. Some see servant leadership as a style of leadership. Servant leadership is best defined as a worldview or attitude of leading others from a perspective of placing the organizational purpose, the needs of the organization, and the needs of people over the needs and desires of the leader.

Robert Greenleaf, a veteran of many years of secular corporate management and leadership development, provides an excellent starting place for understanding a servant leadership definition. He states:

The servant-leader is servant first. … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from the one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such it will be a later choice to serve—after leadership is established. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and most difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived?

Larry Spears, the CEO of the Greenleaf Center, who has extensive background in higher education, makes these additionally clarifying remarks concerning servant leadership.

As we near the end of the twentieth century, we are beginning to see that traditional autocratic and hierarchical modes of leadership are slowly yielding to a newer model—one that attempts to simultaneously enhance the personal growth of workers and improve the quality and caring of our many institutions through a combination of teamwork and community, personal involvement in decision making, and ethical and caring behavior. This emerging approach to leadership and service is called servant leadership.

Lawrence Richards, who has experience in religious higher education and non-profit ministries, and Clyde Hoeldtke, an entrepreneur of a large privately-held business and one who is actively involved in local church ministries, provide a definition of servant leadership in this way.

The New Testament’s picture of the servant as one who does rather than one who adopts the leadership style of the world has a unique integrity. The Christian both hears the Word from his spiritual leader and sees the Word expressed in his person. The open life of leaders among—not over—the brothers and sisters is a revelation of the very face of Jesus. And to see Jesus expressing Himself in a human being brings the hope that transformation might be possibly for me too.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, a prolific writer on matters of spirituality and leadership, seeks a new type of leader for today and contrasts secular and servant leadership models in this statement.

The world in which we live—a world of efficiency and control—has no models to offer those who want to be shepherds in the way Jesus was a shepherd. … a whole new type of leadership is asked for in the church of tomorrow, a leadership which is not modeled on the power games of the world, but on the servant-leader, Jesus, who came to give His life for the salvation of many.

These are examples of ways to define leadership in a Christian or spiritual context. As a biblical theology of servant leadership is sought, these definitions will be used to guide the search for the overarching principles of servant leadership as presented in Scripture. What does the New Testament say about leadership? Is one style of leadership promoted over another? This section posits that the overarching theme of leadership espoused in the New Testament is based on servanthood.

Within the context of the New Testament, a deductive process is used to determine what Scripture says specifically about servant leadership. The gospels provide pre-resurrection examples of servant leadership that are considered. Additionally, the New Testament provides the first examples of how the church after the resurrection was structured and operated. Various personalities are considered as examples or models of New Testament servant leadership. The words and examples of Jesus Christ are a prime source of information.

Additionally, this section examines the servant leadership of Mark, James, John, Peter, Barnabas, Paul, and Timothy. These men were founding leaders of the first century church. The leadership techniques laid the foundation for all churches to follow. As these leaders are examined, a list of servant leadership principles is uncovered. The purpose of this study is to provide a biblical theology framework for servant leadership principles in general rather than for church leadership only.

The Example of Jesus

As a leader seeks or takes on the role of responsibility, the examples of Christ are the greatest models of thought and action. Jesus was a leader to his people and is a leader for all mankind. He suffered for those He led; He placed others before Himself, and showed the world how a leader can be a serving minister.

Suffering for Christ

As one analyzes the New Testament in search of servant leadership principles, the first example is Matthew 4:1-10. Jesus was in the midst of being tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and nights, Christ was hungry. The tempter came to Him and tempted Him with food first, protection second, and then with power and position. Christ’s example here is to worship God and serve only Him. The lesson is that man is to put the worship of God over everything else.

Matthew 6:1-5 provides an example for servant leaders to avoid acts that draw attention to themselves. This practice diminishes from the individual the idea of the future reward from one’s Father in Heaven. The concept here is the opposite of selling oneself and one’s accomplishments. The idea is of being humble and private in one’s accomplishments. A servant leader should strive to serve others from a leadership position with anonymity. Allowing others to receive credit for their own work and providing opportunity for colleagues and workers to be successful can be learned from this passage.

In Matthew 10:24-25, one gets a picture of how the follower of Christ should consider himself. Jesus Christ was persecuted while on earth. Jesus was also the prime example of servant leadership. The concept here is that we are His disciples, and the disciple will not improve upon the Master’s example. People in the first century cursed Christ. His followers should expect the same treatment. This is paralleled in Acts 5:41 where the disciples rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer beatings in their service to Christ.

Additionally, Philippians 3:10 supports this idea of sharing in the suffering of Christ as His servant. Servant leaders should anticipate the same treatment as Christ rather than seeking comfort and safety from an isolated leader position. Servant leaders will take on the less desirable work of leadership when they come alongside workers and followers. A practical application of this thought is that a leader should never ask a follower to do anything that the leader himself would not attempt.

Placing Others First

A more complex example of servant leadership is discussed in detail in Matthew 20:20-28. This passage attacks the foundation of modern secular thinking on position and power. Akuchie states:

Jesus left no one in doubt concerning the nature and character of the kingdom He came to establish. In John 18:26, he declared, “my kingdom is not of this world.” Because His kingdom is not of this world, its leadership, both in principle and in practice was not to be patterned according to the worldly perception of leadership. Leadership in the perception of the world is a road to preeminence and “stardom,” a survival of the fittest. But servant leadership, which Christ embodied, is a contrast to the world’s understanding of leadership. It is the survival of the weakest.

This episode caused the other disciples to become angry with James and John. We can see from the beginning what happens in an organization when someone presupposes their level of importance over the rest of the team. The rest of their colleagues became indignant with this request. Jesus was able to make this a teachable moment by showing how self-promotion is counter to a servant leadership style. First of all, the mother and her two sons were seeking their own will rather than the will of God. According to Matthew 20:22, they did not understand what they were asking. They were also attempting a takeover of the leadership reward. This is paralleled to how the world views leadership. One must get what he can before someone else takes the prize. James and John were exhibiting behavior that was selfish rather than selfless. Jesus used this situation to provide a contrast between secular leadership and servant leadership.

Jesus called them together and said in Matthew 20:25-28:

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

This passage not only clears up the difference between leadership styles, it makes a clear statement about what Jesus Christ’s purpose is regarding servanthood. He came to serve rather than be served. The lesson in this case is for leaders to be servants.

Minister as a Servant

This disagreement gave Jesus the opportunity to teach another practical lesson on leadership. In His kingdom, His followers must not look to the examples of the world. The example is Jesus, not some corporate president or wealthy celebrity. Jesus came as a servant. Therefore, Christians should serve one another. He came to give His life. Therefore, His followers should give their lives in service to Him and others. Warren Wiersbe provides insight in his statement:

The word minister in Matthew 20:26 means ‘a servant.’ Our English word ‘deacon’ comes from it. The word servant in Matthew 20:27 means ‘a slave.’ … Not every servant was a slave, but every slave was a servant. It is sad to note in the church today that we have many celebrities, but very few servants. There are many who want to ‘exercise authority’ (Matt. 20:25), but few who want to take the towel and basin and wash feet.

Jesus Christ asks His followers to identify with Him as believers. Leaders who are servants must also identify with Christ’s leadership that resulted in the ultimate selfless act. While Christians cannot take upon themselves the sin of all mankind, Christians can live the example of Christ by being selfless rather than selfish in their leadership. Again, Jesus states in Matthew 23:11, “The greatest among you will be your servant.” Jesus was not talking about organization charts here—who will report to whom. He was telling His disciples that serving Him was more important than any human position of honor. This reinforces the concept of servant leadership in that a leadership position should never be a goal by itself. Leadership should always be viewed as an opportunity to serve others. The Bible Knowledge Commentary provides, “The Pharisees, who exalted themselves, would be humbled, and Jesus’ followers, by humbling themselves in service, would someday be exalted.” In Mark 9:35, Jesus tells His followers, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Philippians 2:3-4 provides an excellent ending to this lesson. The message is clear regarding the servant leader’s responsibility to be a person of character. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

The key to greatness is not found in position or power, but in character. We get a throne by paying with our lives, not by praying with our lips. We must identify with Jesus Christ in His service and suffering, for even He could not reach the throne except by way of the cross.

These passages make it clear that servant leaders are to seek positions of service to others and view themselves last rather than first. If leadership positions avail themselves, take them as opportunities to continue one’s service.

The Mystery of Christ’s Leadership

Even the first followers of Christ were confused about the meaning of Christ’s purpose. The first century Jews were looking for a leader to free them from the political bondage of Rome. In seeking this liberator, John the Baptist asked Jesus the question, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:2-6; Luke 7:19- 23). Even John had been asked this question by the religious leaders of his day who were looking for the one who would lead them to freedom (John 1:19-27). At the last appearing of Christ, the disciples asked once more, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Until the very last day, the disciples were looking for the one to free them from political rule.

Jesus came for another reason. Ndubuisi Akuchie states:

Jesus came into the world as a leader at a time when His people needed leadership most. However, the character of His leadership was contradictory to the popular expectation. It was so enigmatic that He was rejected by His people as their messiah and the eschatological liberator of Deuteronomy 18:15.

What was true with the New Testament writers is true today. It is difficult for mankind to understand and accept the concept of servanthood as a foundation for leadership. We default to absorbing secular leadership as the worldview rather than building upon servanthood as an identity with Christ.

These people were seeking a strong leader to vanquish the political and social oppression of Rome. In the minds of these Jews, Jesus was their answer. Today, many leaders aspire to this same level of position. Individuals want to be the strong and brave leader with the power, control, and prestige that accompany the position. There is nothing wrong with gaining the highest level of leadership or having strong skills and abilities that undergird successful leadership and management. What Christ is showing in this passage is that the primary goal of one who follows Him is to serve. If one seeks to attain a level of leadership and follow Christ’s example, then servanthood is required.

Servant leadership is discussed and exhibited frequently in both the Old and New Testaments. A clear statement is provided here by Christ Himself in this encounter with the mother of James and John. As the supreme example, Jesus Christ said that He came to serve rather than to be served (Matt. 20:20-28). His ultimate act as a servant leader was to love people so much that even though they were sinners and rejected Him, He still died for them.

Providing additional light on Matthew 20:20-28, Lawrence Richards states:

This passage attacks many of our ingrained assumptions about leadership and helps us define how a servant leads. Servant leadership is a practical philosophy, which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions. Servant leaders may or may not hold formal leadership positions. Servant leadership encourages collaboration, trust, foresight, listening, and the ethical use of power and empowerment.

Leadership in the Early Church

In the Book of Acts one begins to see servant leadership in the context of a growing church after the resurrection of Christ. Christ was no longer with the early church physically. The Holy Spirit was now a vital part of instructing the new leaders. As the church grew, new patterns of servant leadership arose.

Servant to All

In Acts 11, Peter is asked to explain his vision. Through this vision and the subsequent action an additional principle applicable to servant leadership is revealed. Servant leaders are to minister and serve everyone, not only a chosen few. This event opened the entire ministry of Christianity to the gentile world that had previously been neglected.

Servant leaders are to make themselves available as a servant and a leader for all. This idea of serving everyone is confirmed at the Council of Jerusalem and seen in the related actions by Paul and his team. Paul’s closing argument is that “We should not make it difficult for the gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19). While there were still some stipulations on what the gentiles could and could not do, the door to service stayed open allowing everyone to be served in the Name of Christ by the leadership of the new church.

Leaders as Caretakers

Servant leaders are caretakers of their organizations and people within them. This is made evident with two examples in Acts. Acts 14:23 reveals how Paul and Barnabas made a visit to the churches. A servant must be willing to go to the people, rather than expecting everyone to go to headquarters. On this particular visit, Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted for the church, then chose the leaders of these churches before they left.

Servant leaders are ever mindful of the implication of their decisions. In Acts 15:22, we see the process of building up and selecting a new base of servant leaders. As previously cited, Greenleaf says in reference to mentoring and growing future servant leaders, “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” This was an integral part of the mission of Paul and Barnabas.

Seeking Position

The journey through the New Testament reveals statements regarding excellence and seeking position in the body of Christ. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:31, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” He was speaking of the greater gifts that built unity in the church rather than those gifts that were for personal edification. A crucial point for servant leaders can be seen in the way Paul leads up to 1 Corinthians 13 with the statement, “the most excellent way.” The most excellent way is to love others more than yourself. So even for the aspiring leader, keeping others first remains the central theme.

Paul, speaking to Timothy, states, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1). One commentator reminds us that Paul is speaking of church leadership here which is actually different from the role of deacon.

Paul turned to the crucial matter of leadership qualifications. He wanted to encourage respect for the congregation’s leaders, so he cited what was apparently a familiar maxim and commended it as a sound one. Two implications emerge: (1) It is valid to aspire to church leadership, and (2) church leadership is a noble task. The term overseer (episkopos), sometimes translated “bishop,” is only one of several words used in the New Testament to describe church leaders. “Elders” (presbyteroi) is by far the most common. Other terms such as “rulers” (proistamenoi, Rom. 12:8; 1 Thes. 5:12), “leaders” (heôgoumenois, Heb. 13:17) and “pastors” (poimenas, Eph. 4:11; cf. also Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2) are also used. Though each of these terms may describe a different facet of leadership, they all seem to be used interchangeably in the New Testament to designate the same office. This office is different from that of deacons.

Paul also points out some additional information on leading Christ’s Church in 2 Timothy 2:21, 24.

If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

The lesson for the servant leader is that we are encouraged to seek after positions of authority even within the church. We are also to be prepared to be made ready for this type of service through cleansing, actions of kindness, and the willingness to love others above oneself.

Humble Leadership

In this final section on the biblical theology of servant leadership in the New Testament, we will review what is revealed in Scripture regarding suffering and humility. These two terms are not frequently used in leadership language, but the New Testament gives examples of these in 1 Peter 2:21. Barclay provides this insight on how slaves, slave owners, and servants should respond to suffering.

Suppose a man has the Christian attitude to men and to work and is treated with injustice, insult and injury—what then? Peter’s great answer is that this is exactly what happened to Jesus. He was none other than the Suffering Servant. Verses 21-25 are full of reminiscences and quotations of Isaiah 53, the supreme picture of the Suffering Servant of God, which came to life in Jesus. He was without sin and yet He was insulted and He suffered; but He accepted the insults and the suffering with serene love and bore them for the sins of mankind.

Barclay continues his illustration of verse 21.

Jesus gave us the pattern, which we have to follow. If we have to suffer insult and injustice and injury, we have only to go through what he has already gone through. It may be that at the back of Peter’s mind there was a glimpse of a tremendous truth. That suffering of Jesus was for the sake of man’s sin; he suffered in order to bring men back to God. And it may be that, when the Christian suffers insult and injury with uncomplaining steadfastness and unfailing love, he shows such a life to others as will lead them to God.

What greater attribute of a servant leader than to suffer for the very cause he holds dear. For the Christian leader, this is the cause of Christ. There is additional information in Scripture relating to Christ’s suffering. In 2 Corinthians 8:9, it is seen that Christ became poor for our sake.

The JFB Commentary on the Whole Bible illustrates two attributes in this verse in light of servant leadership. First, He became poor—“Yet this is not demanded of you (2 Cor. 8:14); but merely that without impoverishing yourselves, you should relieve others with your abundance. If the Lord did so much more, and at so much heavier a cost, for your sakes; much more may you do an act of love to your brethren at so little a sacrifice of self.” Second, that He might be rich—in the heavenly glory which constitutes His riches, and all other things, so far as is really good for us (compare 1 Cor. 3:21-22).

For the servant leader, these truths are important. Suffering will happen, but the response to that suffering, especially as a leader, is critical. Additionally, leaders are to become poor in a sense. Because of what Christ did for all, believers must be willing to undertake acts of love for others.

The Amorality of Leadership

Much of this section has pointed out the contrast between servant leadership and secular thinking on leadership. There is still a place in biblical servant leadership for one’s aspiration and ambition to achieve certain levels of importance and influence. Through Jesus, and later in the writings of Paul, a collection of principles for the aspiring leader is provided. The point here is that it is not the position that is essentially bad; it is the process or method one employs to obtain a position of authority. Of additional concern, is how one behaves once this level of leadership has been attained. The basic tenant here is that one can, and possibly should, seek positions of importance if the motivation is primarily one to serve rather than to be served.

As these practices are reviewed and the secular models validated for church use, one major consideration must be included. This is the idea that leadership and management tools are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. This author is positing that when the term tool is used with reference to leadership and management, it is being used literally. “What makes the use [leadership or management tools] right or wrong is not the system itself but the way in which it is used by persons.”

At a fundamental level, the tools of leadership and management can be viewed as amoral. This comment is meant to state that creating a mission, developing a vision, planning strategies and managing change, developing systems to track progress, and helping employees manage their output, are by themselves actions only. It is the person involved that makes the difference, whether constructive or destructive. Leadership and management practices are important to the local church. The secular models, practices, and tasks are neither good nor bad. They are to be used under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and as a servant steward of what God had entrusted to the church leader. The conclusion is evident that leadership models regardless of the source may be appropriate if they are consistent with Scripture and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Summary of a Theology of Servant Leadership

After reviewing briefly many New Testament passages regarding servant leadership, what conclusions can be reached? There are guiding principles from every area of Scripture regarding how a leader, especially one who is a servant, should act. These will be defined as overarching principles of servant leadership. Gangel provides a framework for this discussion through his analysis of servant leadership in the New Testament. The derived principles define leadership as servanthood, stewardship, shared power, ministry, modeling behavior, and membership in the body of Christ. This framework is used to guide the analysis of this biblical theology of New Testament servant leadership.

Leadership is servanthood. The servant leader is to strive to lead through service, rather than a climb for the highest level of leadership. A servant is someone who does not exert his own importance, but the importance of others. A true servant leader accepts responsibility as a means to greater service. Kouzes and Posner reinforce this idea from a secular standpoint through love and ensuring self-leadership. Kouzes and Posner illustrate love this way: “… being in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honor the organization by using its work.” These concepts also promote a servant’s heart similar to Greenleaf’s as they espouse five ways to share power and influence called, “Strengthening others: ensuring self leadership, providing choice, developing competence, assigning critical tasks, and offering visible support.” A true servant helps others achieve their own level of competence in servant leadership. Assisting others to be employable rather than employed is a way secular for-profit and non-profit organizations can be servants to their workers.

Leadership is stewardship. Minister is defined as “a servant” in Matthew 20:26. One sees here that Christians are to be good stewards or managers of those things which God has entrusted to them. In the parable of the steward and in Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 4:2, one sees that Christians are being entrusted with certain responsibilities for which they are accountable to God. In general management, this can be defined as stewardship as well. Peter Block makes the following statement regarding choosing service over self-interest. “Stewardship is defined … as the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service rather than in control, of those around us. Stated simply, it is accountability without control or compliance.” He continues, “There is pride in leadership, it evokes images of direction. There is humility in stewardship, it evokes images of service. Service is central to the idea of stewardship.” A servant leader is responsible to the master’s will. He operates with the understanding that the master will return. The servant leader does every task as if he is serving the master specifically and personally.

Leadership is shared power. One can see that this is an important principle in the definition of servant leadership generally and specifically in the examples of Barnabas and Paul as they develop new leaders. Empowerment is the word used in secular circles. Peter Block states, “Empowerment is a state of mind as well as a result of position, policies, and practices. As managers, we become more powerful as we nurture the power of those below us. One way we nurture those below us is by becoming a role model for how we want them to function.” This definition of empowerment and how the leaders should respond in organizations, shows similarities with the biblical approach. As leaders nurture those in churches or other church-based organizations, leaders spread information and learning. Leaders will also begin to develop new leaders sooner. If leaders model the way they want people to behave, then leaders will create their own accountability systems for maintaining the shared power idea. Empowerment may not fully define the biblical meaning of the concept of shared power. Empowerment in management terms means that some other person has given us power. This is true in organizations, but is different in the Christian life. Jesus Christ gives us our power, not another person. Servant leaders will do well to remember that every believer has been empowered from God. Leadership is ministry. This is another of Gangel’s derived principles. This has been discussed in light of stewardship. There are some additional comments that can be made. Christians are called to work together to serve. If people are serving each other diligently, without selfishness, then the acts of ministry will in turn strengthen the fabric of organizations. As Gangel puts it, “The smog of selfishness and egoism lifts to make mutual ministry a biblical reality.” Richards provides additional counsel by stating:

Leaders in the body of Christ should never forsake the role of servants. Even when they are opposed to a plan or program, they are not permitted to demand, but must remain gentle in the instruction and rely on the head of the body to change the hearts of their opponents (or their own).

Leadership is modeling behavior. Examples of the disciples have been discussed, but the major example of leading by modeling is in the person of Christ. Richards and Hoeldtke define modeling succinctly. “The spiritual leader who is a servant does not demand. He serves. In his service the spiritual leader sets an example for the body—an example that has compelling power to motivate heart change.” There are other writers who agree with this idea, but the most poignant is Christ’s ultimate modeling behavior mentioned in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus Christ embodies a selfless act in dying as an innocent Savior for a guilty world. There is no greater sacrifice. While Christians are not necessarily called to die in the same way Christ died, Christians are called to heed His example of total selflessness, especially as leaders.

Leadership is membership in the body. Servant leaders are called together for the cause of Christ. Whether one’s leadership is in a secular organization, non-profit or church, or any combination, each is a part of the body of Christ and must understand the systemic nature of this relationship. This calls for servant leaders to accept positions of leadership as a means to serve, to model the behavior of servant leadership, and build the bench strength of servant leadership for the future. In this brief study of the New Testament, it is apparent that servant leadership is different from secular leadership and management.

In conclusion, it can be stated that servant leadership is not a leadership or management style. Servant leadership is a leadership worldview that works in conjunction with other leadership styles. One can be a military leader where consensus management is not the norm, but can be a servant to the group. One could employ an executive style of leadership or one that is more command and control, but still employ the principles of servant leadership. Servant leaders are called to serve. Servant leaders can aspire to levels of authority, but only as a means of additional service. These leaders practice selflessness and assist others in becoming servants. No matter the position or the organization, a servant leader always places the needs of others over himself.

Selected Leadership Competencies as Appropriate for Ministry Practice

Pastors, church staff, denominational support personnel, and lay leaders within the church are called on to lead, direct, and influence God’s people for the ultimate purpose of worshiping the Father and leading others to Christ. Much effort is spent, and rightly so, on teaching Scripture, church history, and Christian education. Enormous amounts of time and effort is spent on creating and implementing programs that will assist people to grow in their faith. In many cases, the idea of leadership is left out of the overall curriculum within the local church or denominational agency. While there is effort focused on leadership in churches and other Christian organizations, occasionally Christians avoid leadership as it is viewed as secular and in some ways inappropriate for use in the church. Secular models of leadership and management are seen as tools for business and industry, but not for God’s people. This analysis is an attempt to overcome these views and begin the process of creating a list of practices appropriate for supporting the local church.

Overview

The purpose of this section is to show that secular leadership models are appropriate for use within the context of local church leadership. Evaluating two secular leadership models against competencies determined effective for the local church provides this framework. The two secular leadership models are The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner and Leaders Who Make a Difference by Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs. The competencies introduced in George Barna’s book Turn-Around Churches are used as a baseline.

Barna’s research results from analyzing churches that had once been successful and growing and had fallen into a state of decline, but had recovered from the downward spiral and are now healthy, growing congregations. Barna cites six competencies that are evident in the pastor’s leadership arsenal. This author is inferring that these competencies had something to do with the renewal of these congregations. This author also extends these competencies not only to turn-around church leaders, but also to those leaders who are leading healthy churches. Barna reinforces this when he states that these competencies are also evident in the life of leaders who are avoiding the decline spiral. This author extrapolates that these leadership competencies are not for pastors alone, but for anyone holding a position of leadership within the local church.

Competency Analysis

Barna lists the competencies in a different order than presented here. This author believes that the competencies are better presented in a logical fashion related to building blocks of leadership. While none of these competencies are more important than the other, this sequence provides a more progressive order that could be used to determine priority.

Provides Vision

Barna defines vision as “a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen people and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances.” Vision is important in the life of the leader. Everything rests on a clear compelling vision. Any organization without this is in jeopardy. The leader alone, either for the entire church or a particular area of ministry, must have a concise vision that is easily remembered and frequently and consistently communicated to the organization. Everything the group does should reflect the vision. If not, the activity must be reviewed and removed.

The Bible provides specific examples and instruction on vision. “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained” (Prov. 29:18). In this case, people will do what each thinks is right. They will be out of control with no direction. Jesus provided constant reminders to the disciples and to contemporary Christians that the task at hand is to be fishers of people (Matt. 4:19). On the Mount of Transfiguration, Christ gave an unforgettable reminder to His inner circle of the future (Matt. 17:2-9). This was a tangible vision and glimpse of future glory. Christ gave His team a taste of what the future held for them.

Kouzes and Posner define this concept as “Inspire a Shared Vision.” This area is defined in two ways. The first is that the leader must envision the future and imagine ideal scenarios. This is practical advice in the church, as the leader should cast the vision or picture of where the church is going and what it looks like specifically in every area of ministry. Nanus and Dobbs related that leaders must be visionaries. They must dream the dream. Christians have the great commission, but the visioning process is to express what implementing the great commission looks like for a particular local body of believers.

The second part of inspiring a shared vision is to enlist others and to attract people to common purposes. Church leaders already know the importance of enlisting others. This can be best facilitated around people’s spiritual gifts. When this happens, the leader is attracting people to common purposes in which people have passion. The leader’s role here is to enlist others, entrust them with the ministry for which they have been called, unleash them for action, and support them into maturity. The last part of this is to encourage them to replicate the process for someone else. Basically, leaders are to grow and give away their ministry.

Strategic Thinker

Barna speaks directly to the need for strategy by stating, “Focused by the vision, motivated by the challenge, and prepared by experience, Scripture, and God’s Spirit, a pastor must provide people with strategic direction and tactical concepts that will propel the church forward.” Strategy is the action that will lead the vision into reality. Not everyone is gifted in both visioning and strategic thinking. Regardless, the leader is responsible for building plans of action. This is the area in which many leaders get into trouble. In a recent article in Fortune Magazine, several reasons for CEO failure were cited. One of the most prominent was in the execution of the vision. Strategy implementation is critical. Scripture provides supportive examples. In Ephesians 1:9-10, Paul relates that God’s purpose for coming as Christ was to unite the Jews and gentiles together under Christ as the head. God had a plan from the beginning. He had specific strategies and tactics in place that would occur to fulfill the ultimate purpose. One can glean from this an example of a godly methodology showing that vision and the plans to see the vision realized is biblical.

Kouzes and Posner also state that the leader must “Model the Way.” This means that the leader is to set the example. This is critical in the arena of strategy. Effective leaders do what they say they will do. Additionally, leaders must never ask someone on their team to do anything that they would not do themselves. Another important aspect of strategy is to achieve small wins. This builds commitment to action. Nanus and Dobbs define the leader as strategist. His or her role is to find the way. A ten-step strategy process from vision development, through strategy and tactical planning to reporting and measuring results is provided as a guide for the nonprofit leader. Church leaders should use the same level of detail and commitment in the development and execution of plans.

Takes Risks

Barna defines the competency of taking risks this way: “A true leader does not wince at the necessity of change, at the possibility of failure or at the need to take risks.” This is not to mean that a leader should be an uncontrolled risk taker. This means that once the vision is in place and once the strategies and tactics are defined, the leader must step out and do what is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. This risk taking may mean killing sacred cows or doing what has never been attempted before. This may mean doing something that an organization had attempted previously and failed, or something everyone else has said cannot be accomplished. Whatever the risk challenge, the one who is willing to step out is the leader.

Scripture provides an excellent example of a Jewish woman who broke through cultural norms. This was Esther. She stepped outside the expected roles. She risked her life to help God’s people (Est. 9:29-31). She saw the need; it became her vision. She made up her mind what action she was going to take. This was her strategy. She then stepped out on faith to do what was right. She took a risk. This is a place where Scripture is very clear. God expects Christians to live by faith as believers. Christians should also live by faith as leaders. Leaders are stewards of what God has given them. Leaders must be willing to trust Him to accomplish that which He has shown them. Leaders are to be people of prayer. A leader who is doing what God has called him to do will ultimately be successful.

Kouzes and Posner call the leader to “Challenge the Process.” This defines the risk-taking competency as one of changeability or the willingness to take on change. Leaders are to search for opportunities. This means more than taking the “low-hanging fruit.” Leaders are to confront the status quo. Nanus and Dobbs call the leader whose role it is to transform the organization a change agent. These authors are calling the leader to move against stagnation and move beyond the ways the organization has been led and managed in the past.

The second part of this change competency is that the leaders must experiment and take risks. Leaders are to learn from their mistakes and successes. Leaders must create a culture where mistakes are used to improve the future. If a leader consistently punishes those who make mistakes, then people will be reticent to attempt new activities. Southerland tells us to implement change one change at a time and that all change must come in strategic order. Change in an orderly fashion, consistent with the vision and strategy, while supporting risk taking and mistakes, will lead to successful transformation of the organization.

The implications for the church are numerous. Leaders in the church must know the difference between methodology and theology. Methodology is how we operate. Theology is what we believe. The truths of theology are constant, never changing. Methodologies will change and must change in order for the church to remain relevant. Transforming the church is impossible without a clear understanding of this concept of risk taking.

Team Builder

Barna defines team building competence as “Leading by preparing people to take on responsibility and authority in ministry activity and a commitment to delegating as much responsibility and authority as possible.” This gives an excellent understanding that team building is more than just helping everyone get along. A group of people working together is not a team. A team is a group that has come together to achieve a common outcome. The rewards or blame for an individual is inconsequential when compared to the goal. Barna is very specific that team building is to include giving responsibility and authority to people. He posits that delegating actions accompanied by assigning responsibility with authority, is key to building commitment and trust.

Kouzes and Posner refer to this activity of leadership as “Enabling Others to Act.” They see fostering collaboration and creating a non-competitive environment as critical in this competence area. Leaders must promote cooperative goals and mutual trust. Leaders must also strengthen others’ abilities and trust by sharing power and information. Nanus and Dobbs support this by defining a leader as a coach. Their role is to build the team. This provides an excellent metaphor, especially when it comes to church leadership.

There are some activities that can help the leader build a team worthy of shared power and trust. James Collins tells the leader that before anything else, he must focus on the “who” by getting the right people on the bus. Bill Hybels uses a “3 Cs” approach for choosing people with character, competence, and chemistry. Character speaks for itself, but it is critical for people to whom the leader will impart trust. Competence says that the person must have some track record or aptitude for success. Chemistry with the leader and the team is something that should not be overlooked. If a person does not have an initial positive effect on the leader, they should not be selected.

Jesus, when confronted, showed how He kept His team together. The mother of Zebedee’s sons wanted special consideration for her sons. Favoritism and inappropriate reward are inconsistent with team building. Jesus handled this situation while maintaining the team. Jesus also gave authority and responsibility to His disciples by sending them out and retraining them upon their return. Ultimately Christ left His team to carry on His mission. Support for His team was ever present through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The application to the church is that leaders are to be equippers (Eph. 4:12). They are to grow teams, give them authority and responsibility, and support them in their ministry. Leaders who hold onto information and power will severely limit their people and themselves for the work of the church. Entrusting, unleashing, and supporting is the role of the leader. Growing and giving away ministry opportunity is the call. It is not the leader’s property anyway.

Encourager

Barna tells us that turn-around pastors and pastors of healthy churches are always encouragers. Encouragement is critical to the success of any organization. Leadership is influence and influencing people involves being positive and uplifting. If leaders help others achieve their potential, they will also achieve their own desired outcomes. Encouragement from the leader builds on itself. This is an important ability for any leader who wants to develop this type of culture within the organization.

In the book of Acts, an example of Barnabas encouraging others to bless Saul’s ministry is shown (Acts 9:27). When others were not ready to support Saul, Barnabas was ready to step in and give him a chance to prove himself. Leaders must provide encouragement and support as they develop others for ministry. Assigning people to the right place, position, and job is critical. Leaders must encourage others along the way to grow and stretch. Kouzes and Posner refer to this as “Encourage the Heart.” While this is generally focused on reward and recognition programs related to pay, there are implications for the church. It is vital to recognize contributions and celebrate accomplishments. Bill Hybels does this when he brings entire ministry teams up before the church for “We hold you in high regard—way to go!” ceremonies for each ministry area.

Summary of Leadership Competencies Appropriate for Ministry Practice

The purpose of this section was to show that leadership models from secular sources have application to the church. This was accomplished by showing that leadership practices and competencies are tools. There was a discussion of the implication and application of leadership principles from secular sources to the local church. Additionally, providing a baseline taken from church leadership research provided justification. Overall, church leaders can rest on the idea that all truth comes from God. Leadership competencies are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. It is the application of these principles in the great work of serving God by helping people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Previous Research on Ministry Practice

Research on ministerial effectiveness and the minister as manager provides a foundation for competency research for the executive pastor. This study does not presume to uncover activities that will cause the executive pastor to be effective. Understanding ministerial effectiveness does provide insight into what activities are important on the job. The research on ministers as managers is appropriate to this study as the executive pastor appears to be a managerial leader responsible for the implementation of the vision of the pastor, board, and church. Seeking previous research in both of these arenas gives a perspective of effectiveness and management in general within the church and is applicable to the role of the executive pastor.

Ministerial Effectiveness

Various authors have provided insight into ministerial effectiveness. Some authors debate the effectiveness of such research. Certain studies on this area were determined important for this study to show that certain competencies and practices are common to ministers and potentially their effectiveness on the job. Lichtman and Maloney provide research on the ideal ministerial style for effective ministry utilizing the Job Perception Inventory (JPI). Hogue studied satisfaction in ministry. Dittes and Sayer provided insights on ministerial effectiveness. Malony completes a literature review of ministerial effectiveness. The following research studies were cited as particularly foundational to this study on the analysis of leadership and management competencies of the executive pastor.

Nauss

In 1972, Allen Nauss reviewed various attempts of determining ministerial effectiveness. According to Nauss, “Research on ministerial effectiveness has not produced results of maximum value to the churches.” He cites the problems as:

  1. The use of secondary rather than primary criteria.
  2. The selection of general ministerial functions.
  3. The lack of collaboration with church leaders, laity, clergy, and theologians in assessing effectiveness.
  4. The use of the rating mode of measurement.
  5. The changing nature of functions in the parish ministry.

As a response to his findings in 1972, Nauss undertook additional research that was reported in 1983. Nauss sought nominations from the presidents of thirty-four districts of the Lutheran-Missouri Synod. Each president selected between two and four effective pastors. Each pastor was asked to select six individuals who held positions in their congregations and who were well acquainted with the work of the pastor. Of the original seventy pastors in the study, sixty-six represented the group of effective pastors.

Frederick Kling developed the ministerial function scale (MFS) in 1958. Nauss used this instrument in his 1983 research and describes it in his research synopsis. The MFS includes six clusters of pastoral functions. The Priest-Preacher function is related to developing and delivering sermons, leading public worship, and meeting with congregational boards. The Community-Social Involvement function deals with participation and involvement in social action ministries. The Personal-Spiritual Development function relates to the personal spiritual development and practice of the pastor. The Visitor-Counselor includes visiting, counseling, fellowship, recruiting, and training the laity. The Teacher function is two-fold: teaching and working directly with children and students.

Nauss gathered three types of data in this research effort, the MFS, Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) developed by Hackman and Oldham at Yale University, and demographic data related to the pastor, the parish, and the community. The resulting data were compared to a study conducted in 1977 by Nauss. The greatest areas of difference between the pastors in general of the 1977 study and the effective pastors in the 1983 study were in the numbers of parishioners and the organizational status (subsidized or self- sustaining) of the parish. According to Nauss, this would be the result expected of effective ministers. Each of the six profiles was discussed in detail regarding their satisfaction rating and effectiveness score. Overall, Nauss asserts that satisfaction on the job and effectiveness were related.

In 1994, Nauss reported the findings of another study on “Ministerial Effectiveness in Ten Functions.” This study expanded the six previous clusters to ten by adding the Evangelist, Minister to Children and Youth, Personal Enabler, and Equipper functions. The process enlarged the Ministerial Activity Scale (MAS) to forty-six items and increased the sample size to 421. Eleven of the subscales of the Ohio State Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire (LDBQ) were determined useful for the study of the minister. The results of this study reveal patterns of leadership skills for each of the clusters.

Blizzard

In 1956 Samuel Blizzard provided research on the activities occupying pastors’ time. This research asked 690 pastors to evaluate six roles of the pastor on three aspects. The roles determined were administrator, organizer, pastor, preacher, priest, and teacher. The administrator role was defined as the manager of the parish. The organizer role involved leadership, which included participation and planning in local church association and community organization. The pastor role involves developing and maintaining interpersonal relations. The preacher role involves the preparation and delivery of sermons. The priest is the liturgist, leading people in worship and officiating the rites of the church. The teaching office involves church school instruction, confirmation classes, study group leadership, and preparation for teaching.

Blizzard also made three classifications of practitioner roles. Traditional roles are preacher, teacher, and priest. The neo-traditional role of pastor has a biblical tradition. With the development in psychology and counseling, this function had grown even in 1956. The contemporary role of administrator and organizer are newer to church practice. These offices were not as clearly defined in 1956 as the other functions. As Blizzard stated in 1956:

There is little agreement on the legitimate behavior in these roles. Men who are recruited for the ministry usually have an image of the preacher, priest, teacher and pastor as servant of God. They lack a religiously oriented image of the minister as organizer and administrator.

The three aspects rated were effectiveness, enjoyment, and importance. Information on time spent in each role was also collected. The assumption in Blizzard’s research was that as the informant would rate the tasks in order of importance he would reveal his concept of ideal ministry. By rating the importance, he was making a statement of the norms of a minister’s role and professional behavior. The importance rating revealed in order: preacher, pastor, priest, teacher, organizer, and administrator.

The next stage was related to effectiveness or the level of personal involvement in relation to each professional role. Blizzard was seeking information on what was pushing and driving the pastor in his ministry. The effectiveness rating revealed, in order of most effective to least effective: preacher, pastor, teacher, priest, administrator, and organizer.

The final phase of this research was to ask the pastors their level of enjoyment of specific activities in the ministry. Enjoyment was assumed to be an indicator of motivation in their profession. The order that was revealed by the enjoyment rating, from most enjoyed to least enjoyed: Pastor, preacher, teacher, priest, organizer, and administrator.

In reviewing the minister’s workday, Blizzard gave evidence of how the norm and motivations were expressed in the workplace. Rural ministers reported workdays of nine hours and seventeen minutes, while the urban pastors reported ten hours and thirty-two minutes. Blizzard discusses the analysis of his findings by stating:

Almost two-thirds of their total work day was spent as [an] administrator. Slightly more than one-fourth [of their time] was devoted to the pastor role. Preaching and priestly activities took up almost one-fifth of the work day. Organizing consumed more than one-tenth of the day. The residual time (about one-twentieth) was devoted to teaching.

The order of priority from the most time spent to least time spent was: administrator, pastor, preacher, priest, organizer, and teacher. From a practitioner’s perspective, one may deduce that a pastor in this study spent the most time on administrative activities that he least enjoyed, felt were least important, and in which he believed himself to be least effective.

Joyce

In 1995, David Joyce completed a dissertation related to ministers as managers. He analyzed competencies required for effectiveness in a large church. The computer based program was called Innovator, developed by the Wilson Learning Corporation and copyrighted in 1994. He identified five outstanding ministers/managers in the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. Peer nomination was used in the selection process. A randomly selected comparison group was selected of ministers/managers with similar professional situations. A random number of participants was selected to participate in focus groups related to minister/manager competencies needed in large churches. Each participant rated value and performance of the competency. A career development tool was created as part of his research. The randomly selected ministers had a consensus in only six of the thirty-one rated items. The peer nominated ministers had a consensus in twelve of the thirty-one items. The competencies that were ranked higher in value by the peer-nominated group were compared to the ranking of the randomly selected group. The results reported by Joyce here, in order of higher value to lower value, were: committed to calling, manifests hope, fosters trust and respect, manifests integrity, and communicates the message. Three competencies were rated as highly valued by both the peer nominated group and the laity. These were: manifests hope, fosters trust and respect, and manifests integrity. Joyce reported two competencies that were ranked significantly higher in performance by the peer nominated group as compared to the randomly selected group. The competencies reported were: cares about others and manifests hope.

Minister as Manager

Administration, management, and leadership activities appear in the pastor’s work. Studies have been reviewed that show these activities are important to ministers. Additionally, Fishburn and Hamilton reported that characteristics of ministers fell into three groupings: preaching/teaching, mission, and administration. Management and leadership skills are important to a successful ministry. The role of the executive pastor is based on this understanding.

Boersma

In 1988 Steven Boersma completed research on managerial competencies. Boersma used a well-defined process to develop the survey instrument. Eighty-two leadership and management competencies were developed by reviewing related literature and screening those skills and observable behaviors that apply to the church context. The survey was validated using a Delphi panel composed of professionals, pastors, and educators in the field of church management. The panel consisted of three senior pastors, two executives from international Christian organizations, two seminary professors responsible for ministerial studies, two ministers with extensive research and publishing in church management, and one seminary executive responsible for continuing education in the area of organizational development. Each panel member was asked to review the list of competencies for their usefulness and to list any recommendations or suggestions for the survey.

In the process, the eighty-two competencies were reduced to fifty, with six new items included that were not on the original list. The fifty competencies were grouped into three factor areas: Pathfinding skills, which has two sub-factors of strategic pathfinding and operational pathfinding, interpersonal skills and implementation, and decision-making skills which has three sub-factors of staffing, directing, and controlling. The questionnaire was considered to represent a relatively thorough range of pastoral competencies. The conclusions of this study provided an analysis of the different groups’ importance rating on the various competencies. The results revealed ultimately what competencies and competency areas were reported as being the most important by each subject group. The faculty members and pastors differed slightly in their perceptions of the fifty competencies. The results revealed that overall the faculty mean scores were higher than those of the pastors.

In the area of pathfinding, the faculty members and pastors differed significantly on eight items. The faculty placed more importance on the pastor’s ability to develop a staffing plan, complete a needs assessment, oversee program development, and write specific, measurable goals and objectives. The faculty also considered it more important for pastors to develop an organizational chart, match structure with the strategic plan, develop an effective management information system, and develop evaluation standards to match the church’s management plan.

In the area of interpersonal skills, the faculty members rated as more important the pastor’s ability to delegate effectively with the staff and leadership, make use of effective communication skills in directing the work of the staff and membership, foster independent thought, build and maintain staff morale, and develop effective evaluation standards for use with the staff. Faculty also reported a higher importance than pastors to involve existing staff and leadership in the process of developing the mission statement and carry on a regular evaluation program to provide ongoing feedback on all major areas of activity in the church.

Boersma reported few differences between the reported importance ratings of faculty members and lay leaders. Six major differences existed in the interpersonal skills area. The faculty rated as more important than the lay leaders the pastors’ ability to delegate effectively, modify positions to fit existing staff, manage conflict, create an environment where independent thought is encouraged, build and maintain staff morale, and develop effective evaluation standards for use with the staff.

Lay leaders and pastors differed on six items out of the total fifty. Lay leaders reported higher importance for pastors to develop church wide organizational charts, identify issues that might prevent the church from accomplishing its stated goals or objectives, and conduct a needs assessment. Pastors rated more important the ability to budget and allocate resources, develop and maintain specific job descriptions for the staff and leadership positions, and modify individual positions to fit existing capabilities.

Boersma provided several conclusions. The first was that there was a high degree of similarity between the lay leaders’ and the pastors’ responses. He also cited that few differences existed between the ratings of seminary faculty and lay leaders. There were more differences in the responses between the faculty and pastors. All three groups rated highly the importance of the pastors’ ability to implement decision-making dimensions.

Moates

Moates’ research in 1981 studied the allocation of time of ministers as managers within their churches. He reviewed the characteristics of their work and roles in which they serve. Moates also investigated relationships between the time allocated to various roles and characteristics of ministers and their work environment. Moates revealed activities that are appropriate for this study. Overall, activities of pastors in this research revealed similar conclusions to the previous studies cited.

Douglas and McNally

In 1980, Merrill Douglas and Joyce McNally researched the time usage of seventeen ministers. The data collection was accomplished through the use of journals kept by the pastors. From the seventeen activities reported in this study, six roles emerged: Preacher, pastor-counselor, theologian, marketer, administrator, and traveler. Preacher is defined as the role performing religious duties with respect to the church service itself. Pastor-counselor is the role of looking after the needs of the parishioners. Theologian is the role focused on interpreting the Word, bringing the sacraments to the home, performing weddings, conducting funerals, and teaching Bible studies. The marketer is the role related to greeting people, meeting new and perspective members, working in community settings, and making people aware of the church and its benefits. The administrator is the role assumed by the ministers when he deals with the church structure, maintenance, and finances. The traveler is the role of the minister focused on commuting from place to place.

Within an average fifty-six-hour workweek, Douglas and McNally revealed a breakdown of the activities in a minister’s week. The ministers in this study spent the most time, nineteen hours, on administrative tasks. The next most frequent function was preacher with eleven hours. Pastor-counselor activities reported ten hours. Theologian activities reported eight hours. Travel with six hours and marketer with two hours were the least frequent functions.

Summary of Previous Research on Ministry Practice

Understanding the previous research provides three important insights for this study. First, certain competencies and practices can be cited as appropriate for the minister. Additionally, administration in the ministry can be determined as important for success as a minister. This area is vital. As with any organization, the leader will be called upon to be involved in some form of administration. Finally, previous research can support constructs for analyzing leadership and management competencies of the executive pastor.

Emergence of the Executive Pastor

The function of steward, manager or administrator for God’s work has been around since before Moses’ father-in-law challenged him to divide his duties among the leaders (Exo. 18:1-24). The pastoral role within the church, specifically designed to encourage, manage, and administer the church staff and function beyond general accounting and maintenance, is relatively recent. This emerging phenomenon among church staff positions has become known as the executive pastor. It has been determined that the availability of published research on this position is limited. The attempt here is to provide an analysis of this available material.

Overview

There are at least three organizations related to executive pastors that have been started within the last five years. The National Executive Pastors’ Network is a multi-denominational group devoted to meeting the needs of people functioning as executive pastor in churches of various sizes. Another group, based in Southern California, is the Executive Pastors’ Forum developed by pastors in the southwestern United States. The third group, focusing mainly on Southern Baptist executive pastors or those functioning in this role, is the Mega-Metro Executive Pastors’ Conference. These organizations exist to assist those functioning as executive pastors through networking and discussing pertinent issues and to gain insight into the role of the executive pastor.

To gain a picture of the current trends in the executive pastor position, one must consider various factors. The role of the executive pastor is better understood by focusing on possible causes for the emergence of the position. After background information is reviewed, the role of the position can be discussed. There is variation in the titles held by individuals functioning as executive pastors. There is also diversity in the job responsibilities of those holding the title executive pastor.

Concluding this literature search and analysis, one may be able to better define the position. As a result, training current executive pastors, or those functioning in the role, and developing future executive pastors to meet the potential future need becomes more probable. Having a general idea of the practices employed by executive pastors may also manage the expectation of pastors and personnel teams attempting to hire executive pastors for their church.

Factors of Emergence

It has been stated previously that the pastor faced a dilemma of being both the administrator and priest of the body. Even if seminaries provided a comprehensive curriculum for every situation the pastor may face, he still may not have the time in his workweek to accomplish these tasks regularly and completely. The executive pastor position has grown out of this need. Chip MacGregor in his research on the executive pastor provides additional support for the rise of this position: “With the advent of large multi-staff churches in the 1980s, came the need for a full-time pastoral staff member charged with coordinating the complex administrative needs of local congregations.”

Some view the executive pastor as one who is able to boost the senior pastor by taking on the burden of strategy implementation.

The role of the executive pastor is an emerging species of pastor that churches are finding valuable in several contexts. Utilized strategically, an executive pastor can help give a senior pastor and, subsequently the church, a “second wind,” hoping to propel them forward both in growth and effectiveness.

This statement supports the idea that executive pastors have become vital to the growth of the church or are at least perceived as being important. Additionally, this information sheds light on the idea that pastors need to be supported and assisted at the highest level of the organization.

Leadership Network convened a small focus group of senior pastor and executive pastor teams who were familiar with the concept of the executive pastor. This group discussed some ideas regarding the position. When asked, “What is driving this issue at your church?” there were two basic responses—growth and pain.

The system has outgrown the team as it is currently structured and gifted. Staff, whether senior pastor or other team members, are feeling the stress. Often the board makes note of this and wonders: Is there another way? Also, it is usually the senior pastor’s initiative to seek a solution such as an executive pastor.

In a taped interview, Bill Hybels, the senior pastor of Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Illinois, with Greg Hawkins, Executive Pastor at the same church, discuss some of the issues that caused their church to consider and subsequently hire Greg for the position. Hybels reinforces the idea of the busy pastor and the concept of attempting to be everything to everyone.

What I think drives pastors crazy more than any other thing is to know that the standards for teaching are very high. People want great messages. They want fresh thoughts—new biblical insights. They want research to be accurate and cutting edge. It takes a lot of work to be a great communicator. But then the whole leadership, management and administrative side of a growing church is a monster. It’s an ever-growing, ever-changing monster.

This statement of the concern is similar to Blizzard’s dilemma presented in 1956. Pastors are caught in a potential trap when attempting to be both a biblical visionary and pastor and an operational, tactical leader-manager. Hybels confirmed that the addition of Greg Hawkins as executive pastor to the Willow Creek Church staff had alleviated some of that stress.

But on the other side—the leadership managerial side, Greg has helped me and has taken a substantial portion of the leadership managerial weight and put it on his shoulders. It’s been able to free me up to do better teaching and strategic leadership here and there as opposed to bear the full brunt of the burden every day.

Complex organizations and complex roles of leaders have created a need for someone to come alongside the pastor and assist with the management of the church. This does not mean that church is a corporation with the pastor as CEO and the executive pastor as COO. More accurately, it means that the church needs someone to assist a biblical leader to guide a congregation to join God onto His agenda. The executive pastor position has risen out of this need for a type of Aaron for Moses to hold up and support the leader in his role as pastor.

Historical Perspective

The emergence of the executive pastor has risen out of need. That has been addressed previously. How this role came about is the historical view. Dan Reiland, an executive pastor himself, provided information on the history of the executive pastor. Reiland stated that this position has evolved out of the church growth movement.

The position of Executive Pastor is a product of the modern church growth movement birthed in the late 1950’s by leaders such as Dr. Donald McGavran and Dr. Win Arn. Prior to this time the vast majority of North American churches averaged less than 100 in attendance. Each of these churches had no need of more than one pastor/shepherd.

As churches began to grow, additional staff was hired. Dual-purpose ministers with combination titles appeared first. With churches continuing to increase in size and complexity, specialization has become more common. This resulted in multi-staff churches. At this point, the need for additional administration arose. This trend is apparent today as there are references in most seminary catalogs to the training of ministers of education and discipleship to function to a certain extent as administrators. The growth of the church has caused the education and discipleship function to be one of the first traditional functions in the modern church to focus on administration.

Reiland pointed to another turning point. In the 1980s, many churches began passing 1,000 in attendance. “The senior pastor could no longer keep up with all the demands of staff, infrastructure and ministry design; and at the same time—cast vision, remain fresh and creative in the pulpit, raise big dollars, etc. There became a need, in a manner of speaking, to divide his job in half.” This statement shows the direct relationship between the pastor and someone to assist with the managerial position.

Having this brief history assists one in understanding three basic facts about the executive pastor role. First, it is a new phenomenon. Data on when the first executive pastors began to appear is unavailable. Second, the position has developed out of need. Finally, the function of the position and the duties within those entitled executive pastor varies.

Functional Clarification

The role of the executive pastor can be as varied as the situation. There are some common indicators for this position. There are also some functions that are associated with the role erroneously. In some cases, the executive pastor may be combined with others positions as in the executive pastor and discipleship. Without clear criteria and definition of the position, true delineation is difficult.

Difference between Executive Pastor and Administrator

One misconception is using the executive pastor and church administrator titles interchangeably. While there is limited research on the role of the executive pastor, enough information exists to make a distinction between the two positions. A church business administrator may be defined as one who manages the finances, data processing, personnel, physical plant, strategic planning, and church protocol.

The NACBA states that the basic skills needed for church business administrators include administrative, personnel management, and a commitment for professional development, and growth in one’s faith. The administrative skills include knowledge of fund accounting and budgeting, governmental reporting, planning, and data processing. Personnel management skills should emphasize the role of facilitator and motivator, as well as knowledge of how government and legal issues affect people management. This position is closely related in function to the administrative role as defined by Mackenzie, “Managing the details of the executive affairs.”

An executive pastor has a similar function, but a different focus. Tommy Kiedis referred to executive pastors as second fiddles or men and women who oversee the ministries of the church, but report to someone else. The executive pastor usually reports to the senior pastor as his only direct report. Also, as the term indicates, the administrator administers. While leadership and management takes place in this function, the administrator has a more procedural and legal focus with some attention to strategy. The executive pastor focuses more on strategy implementation and overall staff leadership and coordination. It has been cited that an executive pastor is actually in more of a team role regarding strategy.

A great senior pastor will have creative thoughts about implementation and a great executive pastor will have creative intuition concerning the vision of the church. This truly is a partnership. The senior pastor is and should be the primary visionary/dreamer/vision caster, but the executive pastor must have the input and freedom to shape the vision with the senior pastor before it goes public.

With this in mind, it is apparent that the executive pastor functions more closely in the pastoral leadership role with the senior pastor than does the business administrator.

Additional sources provided clarity to this distinction of diversity between the business administration roles and the executive pastor. The executive pastor has the ultimate responsibility for the budget, finances, and facility. These functions are viewed more strategically by the executive pastor. While the business administrator can have a strategic view of his role, the focus is usually a more tactical and detailed level. The administrator also oversees all support staff, office management, payroll, facility maintenance, and daily oversight of new facility construction. Leadership Network distinguished between these two functions by stating, “An administrative pastor or church business administrator is deployed to oversee the areas of churches such as facilities, finances, support teams, etc. This person may or may not be on the leadership/management team of the church.” Travis’ research also cited that the administrator usually reports to the executive pastor.

The executive pastor holds a more comprehensive role within the church organization. Reiland concluded his analysis with a brief description of the significant functions that are primary to the function of the administrator. There are five areas reported by Reiland:

  1. Finance
  2. Building and grounds
  3. Information technology (computers, phone systems, etc.)
  4. Office management—coordination of support staff, human resources, and medical insurance
  5. Special projects as directed by the senior pastor or executive pastor

Reviewing this information in light of the definition of administrator, one can see that the role of executive pastor is more of a managerial leadership and implementation role, while the administrator’s role is more focused in the areas of management and administration, including legal functions and accounting practices.

Review of Executive Pastor Activities

Each of the six cited references related to the executive pastor points to certain tasks and skills appropriate for and important to this position. Reviewing this literature and synthesizing each author’s work provides a starting point for crafting a definition of the practices performed in this role. Each reference has a different perspective, providing a diverse view of this position.

The Management Process Model in 3D

There are practice areas in which skills can be grouped. Leadership Network’s research provided a basic framework of vision, strategic planning, policy, administration, and pastoral staff. Other practice groupings are available. The Management Process in 3D by Alec Mackenzie is used here as a construct. Prior to discovering Boersma’s research, this author studied MacKenzie’s model and found it appropriate as a tool to focus on the various aspects of management and leadership. Mackenzie views leadership as a function of management. He provides a useable framework based on the functions of someone who is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling an organization (see Figure 1). These five sequential functions comprise the framework for Mackenzie’s model. It is used here for the purpose of categorizing the activities referenced in the collected works relating directly to the function of the executive pastor. While management as a function of leadership or leadership as a function of management can be argued based on current definitions of either, Mackenzie affirmed that the terms designate two different activities: “Note the distinction between leaders and managers. The terms should not be used interchangeably. While a good manager will often be a good leader, and vice versa, this is not necessarily the case.” He continued by stating that the purpose of this chart is to see leadership as a function of management. He provides the following definitions:

  1. Management—achieving objectives through others.
  2. Administration—managing the details of executive affairs.
  3. Leadership—influencing people to accomplish desired objectives.

There are five sequential functions: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling. Relating to this study, the functions make up the spectrum of task possibilities for the executive pastor. Planning is defined as a predetermined course of action. The possible activities within this function are forecasting, setting objectives, developing strategies, programming, budgeting, setting procedures, and developing policies. Organizing, which is defined as arranging and relating work for effective accomplishment of objectives, has four related activities. These organizing activities are establishing organizational structure, delineating relationships, creating position descriptions, and establishing position qualifications. Staffing, defined as choosing competent people for positions in organizations, consists of the activities of selecting, orienting, training, and developing the staff. Directing is defined as bringing about purposeful action toward the desired objectives. This function contains the activities of delegating, motivating, coordinating, managing differences, and managing change. The final sequential function is controlling or ensuring progress toward objectives accord. This area requires one to establish reporting systems, develop performance standards, measure results, take corrective action, and reward performance.

Figure 1. Management Process in 3D

(To view Figure 1, see PDF below this article)

Mackenzie described the entire process as management. This author believes in the construct, but the nomenclature may be slightly dated. Mackenzie placed staffing, directing, and controlling under the high level task of leadership. Organizing relates to administration and planning as the task of conceptual thinking. If Drucker’s definition of management, planning, organizing, and controlling is used in this model, then possibly the sequential functions of planning, organizing, and controlling would be management functions. Staffing would be partially related to management in the selection and orientation of personnel. If leadership is an influencing process, then one could determine training and development within the staffing function and the directing function to be clearly in line with contemporary definitions of leadership. The point here is that regardless of the naming convention of the functions of leading and managing, an organization remains the same. The construct is valid.

Mackenzie states that the usefulness of this diagram will be seen in the related benefits:

  1. A unified concept of managerial functions and activities.
  2. A way to fit together all generally accepted activities of management.
  3. A move toward standardization of terminology.
  4. The identifying and relating of such activities as problem analysis, management of change, and management of differences.
  5. Help to beginning students of management in seeing the “boundaries of the ballpark” and sensing the sequential relationships of others.
  6. Clearer distinctions between leadership, administration, and strategic planning functions of management.

Executive Pastor Practices

Mackenzie built this model for business and industry. He also related its application to education and government. Certain functions of managing and leading are present in every organization including the church. The executive pastor is in a position of leading the operations of the church. These principles and the related organizational application, with the correct servant leadership attitude, can provide guidance in the analysis of church leadership and management functions.

Planning

Four of the authors cite planning functions as a role of the executive pastor. MacGregor stated that an activity related to executive pastors is the establishment and management of the budget. While budgeting is frequently related to the business administrator, the overall responsibility for budgeting falls in the purview of the executive pastor function. Reiland stated that an activity of the executive pastor is to “Give input to the business administrator in budget design; monitor all departmental budgets, and overall church budget, as prepared by the business administrator and approved by the local board.”

The development of plans and strategies also falls within the function of planning. Developing the facilities master plan, a marketing and communication strategy, or partnering with the senior pastor in preparing the strategic plans for the church also fall into this function. Reiland saw new policy development as critical to this function. Frieze stated that an executive pastor will guide the formation and development of a ministry area statement which is a step in predetermining a course of action.

Organizing

The organizing function relates to the organizational structure, relationship of positions and functions, positions and descriptions, and qualifications. Three authors made reference to organizing activities. This author assigned initiating new ministries to the organizing function. It could be argued that creating a new ministry is planning or even directing, which includes change management. Placing the concept of new ministry development in this category is based on the assumption that additions and deletions from the organizational program will occur here. Frieze included developing new ministries. Freeman referred to this activity as initiating new ministries.

Hybels and Hawkins provided two additional tasks that can be cataloged in this function. Aligning the staff to achieve the strategy and planning and also leading staff reorganizations are organizing tasks. These activities related directly to Mackenzie’s definition of arranging and relating work for effective accomplishment of objectives.

Staffing

According to Mackenzie, staffing is the function of choosing competent people for positions in organizations. This function, along with directing and controlling, make up the leadership tasks of the management process. Most of the activities cited in the executive pastor literature fell into these three high-level task categories. Staffing has four major activities: selecting, orienting, training, and developing. In the literature review, MacGregor, Reiland, and Hybels provided activities which were assigned to this function.

The greatest number of staffing activities were related to selection. While selection is defined as the act of recruiting people for each position, the removal of personnel was determined part of this activity by this author. Developing a personnel master plan was cited by MacGregor as an appropriate activity for executive pastors. This activity flows naturally from the planning and organizing functions. Hiring and firing staff are activities assigned by MacGregor, Reiland, and Hybels.

While activities related to orientation were not discussed, training and development were considered important by MacGregor and Reiland. MacGregor referred to this activity as ensuring staff development. Reiland stated that executive pastors will provide for staff development, which includes designing and delivering a comprehensive training and development process of the pastoral staff.

Directing

Directing focuses on bringing about purposeful action toward desired objectives. The component activities of this function are delegating, motivating, coordinating, managing differences, and managing change. Some activities were difficult to assign as either delegating or coordinating. Delegation, according to Mackenzie, is assigning responsibility and exact accountability for results. With this definition in mind, assignments to this activity were based on the assumption that a task assignment was being made and specific directions were being given.

There were four tasks assigned to the delegation activity. Reiland provided three. These tasks relate to providing specific directional leadership to the staff, including the business administrator. Travis cited supervision of staff activities and managing day-to-day operational and tactical decision making as two activities within the realm of delegation.

Motivation is another activity under the direction category. This leadership activity is related to persuading and inspiring people to take desired action. One form of motivation is both individual and corporate. Part of the executive pastor’s role is the need to gather “heart data” which can be used to inspire people to the desired actions.

Monitoring the pulse of the church through Heart Data: Atmosphere interior issues of morale, relationships, trust, God’s presence, attitude, energy, environment, external surroundings, condition and opportunities, maturity and security in the community of believers and momentum.

Reiland mentioned leading and coaching that were also assigned to this activity. Facilitating ministry cooperation is provided by MacGregor. Finally, Freeman provided the task of marshaling the resources of the church.

Coordinating activities were cited most frequently in the executive pastor literature. Assignments to this category were based on the assumption that an activity that relates efforts of the staff to the most effective combination is called coordination. Each author represented in the literature listed a coordination activity. Each statement made reference to coordinating staff activities, the church calendar (including staff vacations and time off), and the use of facilities on an individual basis. On a strategic level, coordination was cited as providing oversight and direction to strategic plans and programs within the church.

Managing differences relates to the topic of conflict management, while managing change refers to simulating creativity and innovation in achieving goals. These two areas were mentioned by the authors in the executive pastor literature. Implementing the vision of the senior pastor or church board was cited by MacGregor. Attending meetings as an activity of leadership was assigned to this category as these are frequently change management or conflict resolution process steps. Acting as a sounding board for the pastor was another activity cited that assists with managing change. The pastor may also assign the executive pastor to ad hoc teams to ensure forward motion according to the strategic direction of the church.

Controlling

The control function relates to the activities ensuring progress toward objectives accord. The sequence of activities provided here are: establishing a reporting system, developing performance standards, measuring results, taking corrective action, and praising, remunerating, and disciplining. Reiland stated that the executive pastor should provide the senior pastor and church board written reports reflecting the status of all key ministry areas. This included reporting hard data such as first-time conversions, visitors, people involved in ministry, people in small groups, the number of identified leaders, offering, and attendance data.

Freeman provided two activities important for developing performance standards. The first activity for the executive pastor in this area is to develop quantifiable measures of success with reasonable deadlines. The second was articulating clear expectations of the associates’ roles.

Measuring results was also reported in the executive pastor literature. Performance evaluations were assigned under this activity. Reiland cited two progressive activities for measuring performance. The first activity was to design, develop, and monitor each pastoral staff member’s personal ministry action plan and related ministry evaluation. The second activity was to administer performance evaluations. To enhance the performance appraisal system, Frieze suggested that the executive pastor should supervise the evaluation of the objectives and goals during the year. Providing feedback to the board on the hard data is important. Equally important is providing the senior pastor with appropriate feedback from the staff team.

Once the feedback process has been implemented, the literature directed that the executive pastor should take corrective action, then rewards and remuneration can occur. The executive pastor should enforce policies and procedures as part of this process. When rewarding performance, the executive pastor should:

Assist the senior minister and personnel committee to administer salary and benefit programs for the key ministerial staff, associates, directors and other ministry coordinators as well as carry out the performance reviews of [same].

Reiland stated that presenting salary reviews and recommendations to the pastor and board is also a responsibility of the executive pastor.

Summary of Executive Pastor Practices

The executive pastor literature provided insight into the practices of this position. There was representation from the spectrum of management and leadership activities referenced in the Mackenzie process. Kiedis writings were more focused on the attitudes of the executive pastor and the relationship of the senior pastor to this position. His writings have application more focused toward the senior pastor’s decision to employ an executive pastor. Reiland and Freeman also included pastoral activities such as teaching, preaching, and general ministry responsibilities such as performing weddings, funerals, and sacraments. These activities appear to be part of the executive pastor’s role description pointing out that this position is equally pastoral and executive.

Profile of Current Study

Studying the biblical theology of leadership provided the theological underpinnings for studying church leadership. Having this biblical view in place, the review pointed out that leadership and management principles are similar in most arenas of organizational leadership. Previous research was then reviewed to better understand related areas of ministerial effectiveness and the minister as manager. The literature related to the executive pastor revealed certain practices that are consistent in this position.

The review of precedent literature has revealed that there is limited research on the new phenomenon of the executive pastor. Pertinent literature provided foundational support for the leadership and management functions necessary for the local church. Literature on servant leadership revealed that servant leadership is more of a leadership worldview than a type of leadership. Servant leadership was seen as necessary for leadership generally, but critical for the executive pastor. Certain competencies were reviewed as appropriate for leadership practice. This review of the literature revealed that certain critical competencies for church practice paralleled secular nonprofit and for-profit leadership competency research. These competencies were viewed as appropriate and applicable to the church context. Previous research on ministry practices revealed that there are certain competencies that are appropriate for the minister. Management and administration are functions necessary for ministry effectiveness.

From the precedent literature, a listing of the stated practices was completed. The management and leadership construct provided by Alec Mackenzie provided the framework for analyzing this ministry position. The competencies studied and the related instrument provided by Boersma are foundational for this study. From the precedent literature review, the Boersma study was determined appropriate for studying the competencies important to the executive pastor position. With the addition of demographic data, a profile of leadership and management competencies was created to assist in defining this new position called the executive pastor.

Chapter 3—Methodological Design

The purpose of this research was to further the process of developing an understanding of the leadership and management practices of the executive pastor. This study identified and analyzed the self-evaluated importance of leadership and management competencies of mega-church executive pastors or those holding a similar second-in-command function within a local Southern Baptist church. Demographic data and professional experience were studied to identify relationships between the executive pastor’s response and his background. A New Testament theology of church leadership was provided as foundational information for leadership and management practices as described in Scripture. Leadership and management competencies, abilities, or practices were identified by for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. There are identified competencies in the fields of theology and Christian education that were cited as important to pastors. Ministerial effectiveness and ministers as managers research was reviewed providing supplemental understanding and background.

Casual observation revealed that in this new phenomenon of the executive pastor, these identified leadership and management practices may or may not be similar to those competencies already determined for ministry leadership and management. There may also be a wide variety of practices executed by people in this function. The results of this study may reveal what an executive pastor does, which may be valuable to those currently acting in this role, those individuals pondering a move into this position, and to those institutions focused on training and developing church leaders.

Research Question Synopsis

The following questions were used to guide this study:

  1. What are the similarities and differences of the demographic characteristics such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size within the population of the executive pastors?
  2. What is the rank order and relative agreement of the perceived competency importance reported by the executive pastors?
  3. How do the mean rank order results of the Boersma study of pastoral management competencies compare and contrast to the mean rank order of the executive pastors?
  4. What are the identifiable characteristics, such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size that are associated with the importance rating of the competencies?
  5. What is the relationship between the self-reported job satisfaction, performance, and preparation ratings of the executive pastors?

Design Overview

The research design was a descriptive survey studying the self-reported importance of selected leadership and management competencies of those functioning as an executive pastor in Southern Baptist mega-churches. Fifty competencies identified in a 1988 study of pastoral managerial competencies were foundational to this study. Utilizing this validated survey instrument, executive pastors reported an importance rating. The survey also gathered demographic information on the executive pastors and their churches. Included in this demographic section were three questions related to job satisfaction, performance, and preparation. This research compared and contrasted the findings of this study with the Boersma findings. The result of this study provided insight into which practices the executive pastors in the population found important to the function of the executive pastor. This study may also provide a process to study leadership and management practices in other ministry positions. This research may be valuable to institutions focused on training and developing church leaders.

Through precedent literature research of church related leadership and management practices, a competency evaluation instrument was discovered. This instrument entitled Pastoral Management Competencies Questionnaire was developed by Stephen A. Boersma as part of his Ph.D. dissertation research at Oregon State University in 1988. This instrument was chosen as applicable to this research effort.

The title of Boersma’s survey suggests that the instrument only evaluates management competencies. The appropriateness of using this survey for leadership and management was revealed through a brief analysis of Boersma’s research. Boersma explored management competencies and organized the data using the Management Process Model in 3D developed by Alec Mackenzie in 1969 as guide. The Mackenzie model includes administration and leadership as tasks within the management process. Leadership and management as functions are intertwined. It was determined by this author that the resulting list of competencies spans appropriately the disciplines of both leadership and management.

Boersma used a well-defined process to develop the survey instrument. Eighty-two leadership and management competencies were developed by reviewing related literature and screening those skills and observable behaviors that apply to the church context. The survey was validated using a Delphi panel composed of professionals, pastors, and educators in the field of church management. The panel consisted of three senior pastors, two executives from international Christian organizations, two seminary professors responsible for ministerial studies, two ministers with extensive research and publishing in church management, and one seminary executive responsible for continuing education in the area of organization development. Each panel member was asked to review the list of competencies for their usefulness and to list any recommendations or suggestions for the survey. In the process, the eighty-two competencies were reduced to fifty, with six new items included that were not on the original list. The questionnaire was considered to represent a relatively thorough range of pastoral competencies. Reliability for the instrument was established according to the analysis of variance method suggested by Hoyt and Stunkard. This produced a reliability of +.94 for the questionnaire.

Boersma used a three-factor analysis to cluster the fifty competencies. The result delineated the fifty competencies into the factors and subfactors. Boersma’s research determined that certain questions pertained to certain competency groupings. Boersma explains the naming of the factors, “The names of the three factors were judgmentally assigned, as are assumed to be indicative of the general nature of the competencies clustered under each factor.” Factor 1 centers on pathfinding skills which relate to planning. The two subfactors for factor 1 are strategic pathfinding (1a) and operational pathfinding (1b). Factor 2 focuses on items pertaining to interpersonal skills. There are no subfactors for this factor. Factor 3 is related to implementation and decision making skills.

The three subfactors center on staffing (3a), directing (3b), and controlling (3c). The analysis describing the relationship of demographic factors for this executive pastor study focused on the factors rather than the individual questions within the survey.

The survey for this study was structured to gain a wide range of demographic information describing the subject and the organization. The data included age, race, gender, professional experience, and educational background. Organizational information included the number of adults, teenagers, and children who attend on average the weekly worship services, the average weekly Sunday School attendance, the annual church budget, the number of full-time equivalent ministry staff positions, and the organizational structure. Two questions on personal preference regarding the position were also included. The last section of the demographic survey included three questions related to job satisfaction, performance and preparation in the position of the executive pastor. All information gathered through this survey was self-reported by the respondent functioning as an executive pastor.

The survey instrument and the demographic questionnaire were field-tested to determine the ease of use and how well each question was understood by the participant. Subjects outside of the population were used. These people were individuals holding the title or function of an executive pastor in churches of similar size to the population, but outside the SBC or the MMEPC. These individuals were enlisted as their position and organizations were more closely related to the population of this study. Adjustments were made as appropriate to the demographic survey and the process. The Boersma survey was not edited. The instrument was delivered via mail to each participant, completed, and returned. The data was studied and analyzed according to the research purpose and related research questions.

Population

The members of the Mega-Metro Executive Pastors’ Conference (MMEPC) currently serving in Southern Baptist churches were the population for this study. Survey responses from people outside this group were intentionally not included in this study. The intent of this study was to survey the entire membership of this organization. The information gathered from this population may serve as a baseline for the future study of the executive pastors.

Samples and Delimitations

The Mega-Metro Executive Pastors’ Conference (MMEPC) limits participation in this organization to those individuals who are functioning as executive pastor or acting in a chief of ministry role. Occasionally, the minister of education, senior associate pastor or director of ministries acts in a role similar to the executive pastor. Those holding the position of church senior pastor, church administrator, business administrator or chief financial officer were not included. The specific criterion for membership are individuals and churches that meet four out of six of the following criteria:

  1. The annual worship attendance must have an average of three thousand or more.
  2. The annual Sunday School attendance must have an average of two thousand or more.
  3. The annual budget must be at least $4 million.
  4. There must be at least ten full-time equivalent (FTE) paid professional ministry staff positions.
  5. The executive pastor function must report directly to the senior pastor.
  6. The executive pastor function must oversee the ministry staff.

The MMEPC focuses primarily on churches that are Southern Baptist. While membership criteria do not preclude someone in a church other than Southern Baptist to participate, the vast majority of participants are from SBC churches. The database was furnished by the MMEPC, as this researcher is a member of the organization. There were fifty-six names on the roster for MMEPC. Fifty-two of the Southern Baptist members met the organization’s criteria for membership. Thirty-seven surveys were returned, for a 71% return rate. The group is aware of the research efforts and supports the participation of the membership in this study.

These MMEPC individuals were appropriate for this study. The use of the term executive pastor is sporadic and inconsistent across Christian churches in the United States. There was no central source of locating people in this function, as tracking of titles within denominations is infrequent. Studying this homogenous group established a baseline, which with additional research, could lead to a consistent definition of this function.

There were delimitations of the population as defined in the research purpose. While the MMEPC membership criteria are utilized, there are additional delimitations.

  1. The population was delimited to individuals serving in Southern Baptist Churches.
  2. The population was delimited to individuals serving churches in the United States.
  3. The population was delimited to individuals holding past or present membership in MMEPC.

Limitations of Generalization

The delimitations of this study had an effect on the generalization of the findings to other individual situations and organizations.

  1. This study will not necessarily generalize to individuals serving in non-Southern Baptist Churches.
  2. This study will not necessarily generalize to individuals serving in churches outside the United States.
  3. This study will not necessarily generalize to individuals serving in other ministry positions.
  4. This study will not necessarily generalize to individuals serving in churches that do not meet the MMEPC membership criteria.
  5. This study will not necessarily generalize to non-church for-profit or not-for-profit environments.

Instrumentation

The survey utilized for this study was the Pastoral Management Competencies Questionnaire developed by Stephen A. Boersma in 1988. The format was in Likert scale to aid in tabulating data and determining analysis in light of the five research questions. The Likert scale was a six-point scale with the number 1 representing very little importance, 2 representing somewhat important, 3 representing important, 4 representing very important, 5 representing considerably important and 6 representing extremely important. The importance rating was related to the level of importance of the competency determined by the executive pastor to his position. Some questions seeking a written answer were utilized for additional clarity in the response.

Demographics

The survey was structured to gain a wide range of demographic information describing the subject and the organization. All information gathered through this survey was self-reported by the one functioning as an executive pastor. The results of the demographic data were used to analyze the population and their responses.

Personal Data

The personal demographic data that was requested in the survey gathered information on the respondent. The personal data included age, race, gender, professional experience, and educational background. Two questions on personal preference regarding the position were also included. The last section of the demographic survey included three questions related to job satisfaction, performance, and preparation in the position of the executive pastor. This provided insight into the variance of practices, activity, and importance rating based on personal characteristics.

Age

According to Thompson’s research, age is a contributing factor in responding to ministerial competencies. Having no available research on the age of the executive pastor as a profession, this category provides valuable information. The participants were grouped into five categories, under 25, 25-34, 35-44, 35-44, 45-54, and over 55.

Race and Gender

Diversity is valued in organizations. Race and gender were demographic factors that were surveyed to determine the diversity within this group. While one may speculate that there was homogeneity within the group, information was required to validate these assumptions. The race categories were: African-American, Asian-American, Caucasian, Hispanic and other. Gender categories were male and female.

Years in Ministry

Years in the ministry were delineated from years in the executive pastor function. Years in the ministry generally and in the role of an executive pastor specifically were recorded. The year in ministry experience was measured as less than 5 years, 6-10 years, 11-15 years, 16-20 years, 21-25 years, and over 25 years.

Years in Current Position

The number of years in the current position was in regard to the tenure within the executive pastor function. These categories were delineated into four to five year categories of less than 1 year, 2-5 years, 6-10 years, 11-15 years, 16-20 years, and over 20 years.

Education

While there is no educational requirement for ordination or to operate as an executive pastor, this was a factor considered in the responses to practice. This study sought to acknowledge and record a variety of educational experiences and degrees. Educational background was determined to be important to what practices are valuable to the executive pastor. Various options were provided. The participants indicated none or many degrees earned. These options included none, undergraduate, M.A., M.S., M.R.E., M.DIV., M.B.A., D.Min., Psy.D., Ed.D./Ph.D., J.D., and M.D.

Previous Experience

Previous church and secular experience was requested in a subjective format. This information provided additional and specific insight into the background of the executive pastor.

Satisfaction, Performance, and Preparation

The subject was asked to rate each of these using a Likert scale of 1 to 6, with the number 1 representing the lowest importance and the number 6 representing the highest importance. Satisfaction was related to the subject’s satisfaction of holding the position of an executive pastor. Performance was related to the subject’s self-perceived ability as an executive pastor. Preparation referred to how well the subject believed he was prepared to function in the role of an executive pastor.

Organizational Data

The organizational data was requested in the survey parallels the MMEPC membership data. This ensured the validity of the respondent and provided insight into the possible variance of practices activity and importance rating due to church size. Organizational information included the number of adults, teenagers, and children who attend on average the weekly worship services, the average weekly Sunday school attendance, the annual church budget, the number of full-time equivalent ministry staff positions, and the organizational structure.

Membership

This category intended to gather data on the total membership of the organization. While membership is not the best determination of the size of a church, this is a standard church organization measurement and part of the MMEPC criteria for membership. The measurement used here was under 1,999, 2,000-2,999, 3,000-3,999, 4,000-4,999, 5,000-5,999, 6,000-6,999, 7,000-7,999, 8,000-8,999, 9,000-9,999, and over 10,000.

Worship Attendance

The average annual worship attendance included adults, teenagers, and children. The measure used here was less than 1,499, 1,500-1,999, 2,000-2,499, 2,500-2,999, 3,000-3,499, 3,500-3,999, 4,000-4,499, 4,500-4,999, and over 5,000.

Sunday School Attendance

Sunday school refers to all small group Bible studies that occur weekly. This category also includes every age group. The Sunday school attendance categories were under 1,499, 1,500-1,999, 2,000-2,499, 2,500-2,999, 3,000-3,499, 3,500-3,999, 4,000-4,499, 4,500-4,999, and over 5,000.

Church Budget

The annual church budget was measured by under $2,999,999, $3,000,000-3,499,999, $3,500,000-3,999,999, $4,000,000-4,499,999, $4,499,999-4,999,999, $5,000,000-5,999,999, $6,000,000-6,999,999, $7, 000,000-7,999,999, $8,000,000-8,999,999, $9,000,000-9,999,999, and over $10,000,000.

Pastoral FTE

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) ministry staff was measured by 1-4, 5-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, and over 30.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure was determined by the responses to two questions: “What positions report directly to you?” and “To whom do you report?” This gathered additional data on the reporting structure and how churches with the function of an executive pastor are aligned.

Practice Data

There were fifty competencies related to the management process. The subject rated each competency on a Likert scale of 1 to 6, with the number 1 representing the lowest importance and the number 6 representing the highest importance. All information provided by the respondent was self-reported. This gave the researcher insight into which leadership and management competencies were determined most and least important to the individual functioning in the role of the executive pastor responsible for leading and administering the local church.

Procedures

Permission to use the MMEPC as the sample group was granted by John Russell, the 2003 chairperson for the organization. Once the written survey was completed and approved, a field test was administered. Those involved in the field-test were executive pastors who are not in the MMEPC. The field test group consisted of seven individuals.

Once the field test participants were selected, they were sent a survey packet, either by email or fax, which included the complete survey and a response sheet for suggested improvements. A follow-up phone call was made after the survey was sent. The respondents had five days to complete the survey. The respondents completed and returned the survey and provided feedback using the response sheet regarding the survey and the process. The field test response was very helpful and appropriate edits were made to the survey.

Once the field test was completed, the finalized survey was printed and mailed to every applicable member of the MMEPC. The instrument was delivered via mail to the participants, completed, and returned. A stamped, self-addressed envelope was included in the survey packet. Respondents were asked to return the information within a two-week period. Since the surveys were anonymous, follow-up emails and phones calls were made.

Once the surveys were returned, the data was compiled, studied, and analyzed according to the research purpose and related research questions. The data obtained from the Likert type responses and the demographic questionnaire were compiled and the descriptive statistics computed using the statistical analysis tools provided in Microsoft Excel. The mean, median, and mode were calculated to determine patterns in the responses. The statistical tests utilized were in accordance with the five research questions. The resulting analysis and tables are displayed and discussed in Chapter 4. Conclusions are discussed in Chapter 5.

Chapter 4—Analysis of Findings

This section presents the data in an objective manner. The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive research study was intended to observe the new phenomenon of the executive pastor by identifying the self-perceived leadership and management competencies important for local church administration. Additional information was collected to provide insight into the degree of job satisfaction, performance, and preparation for the position as reported by the executive pastor.

Compilation Protocol

A field-test group of seven men was identified to assist in editing the final data collection instrument. One field-test participant was an executive pastor of a Southern Baptist church smaller than the MMEPC requirements. This executive pastor had extensive secular and church leadership experience. The other six field-test members were either former or current mega-church executive pastors that met the criteria of the MMEPC but were not Southern Baptist.

Once the field-test participants were selected, they were contacted by phone to determine their willingness to participate in the research. Each participant was sent a survey packet, either by email or fax, which included the complete survey and a response sheet for suggested improvements. A follow-up phone call was made after the survey was sent asking if there were any questions regarding the instructions. The respondents had seven days to complete the survey. The field-test participants completed and returned the survey by mail, fax, or email providing feedback regarding the survey and the process. The field-test responses were very helpful and appropriate edits were made to the instruction sheets and the process.

Through precedent literature research of church related leadership and management practices, the competency evaluation instrument was discovered. This instrument entitled Pastoral Management Competencies Questionnaire was developed by Stephen A. Boersma as part of his Ph.D. dissertation research at Oregon State University in 1988. This validated instrument was chosen as applicable to this research effort. The outcomes of this research continued to demonstrate validity. The 1988 Boersma survey was used intact in its original form.

Boersma used a three-factor analysis to cluster the fifty competencies. The result delineated the fifty competencies into factors and subfactors. Boersma’s research determined that certain questions pertained to certain competency groupings. Boersma explains the naming of the factors by stating, “The names of the three factors were judgmentally assigned, and are assumed to be indicative of the general nature of the competencies clustered under each factor.” Factor 1 centers on pathfinding skills which relate to planning. The two subfactors for factor 1 are strategic pathfinding (1a) and operational pathfinding (1b). Factor 2 focuses on items pertaining to interpersonal skills. There are no subfactors for this factor. Factor 3 is related to implementation and decision-making skills. The three subfactors for this factor center on staffing (3a), directing (3b), and controlling (3c). The analysis for this study focused on the factors rather than the individual questions within the survey.

After the editing was completed, the final survey was printed and sent to every applicable member of the MMEPC. The instrument was delivered via mail to the participants. A stamped, self-addressed envelope was included in the survey packet. Respondents were asked to return the information within a two-week period. Since the surveys were anonymous, three follow-up emails and phone calls were made to the entire group. Thirty-seven of the fifty-two executive pastor population responded providing a 71% survey response rate.

Once the surveys were returned, the data was compiled, studied, and analyzed according to the research purpose and related research questions. The data obtained from the Likert type responses and the demographic questionnaire were compiled and the descriptive statistics were computed using statistical analysis tools in Microsoft Excel. The mean scores of each of the fifty questions and the six sub-factors were compared by sorting the executive pastors by their different demographic responses and by using analysis of variance, or the F-test. A 95% confidence level was used in the F-tests to determine any differences in the executive pastors’ answers to the competencies when analyzed by their different demographics. The Pearson product moment correlation coefficient (r) was used to determine the association between demographic variables and the factors or competency clusters. These tests were executed using the Minitab software program.

The five research questions were used to explore and analyze the data that were collected from the survey administered to the executive pastors of churches that met the study’s criteria. The findings and analysis are displayed in this section. To conclude this section, a compilation protocol and an evaluation of the research design are included to illustrate the research design and related critique of the methodology.

Findings and Displays

Data were examined utilizing the five research questions. Research Question 1 asks, “What are the similarities and differences of the demographic characteristics such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size within the population of executive pastors?” Research Question 2 asks, “What is the rank order and relative agreement of the perceived competency importance reported by the executive pastors?” Research Question 3 asks, “How does the mean rank order results of the Boersma study of pastoral management competencies compare and contrast to the mean rank order of the executive pastors?” Research Question 4 asks, “What are the identifiable characteristics, such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size that are associated with the importance rating of the competencies?” Research Question 5 asks, “What is the relationship between the self- reported job satisfaction, performance, and preparation ratings of the executive pastors?”

Research Question 1

Research Question 1 asks, “What are the similarities and differences of the demographic characteristics such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size within the population of executive pastors?” The demographic data was divided here into two parts, personal/professional data and organizational data. The personal/professional information related to age, gender, years in ministry, years in current position, education, and background of the executive pastor. The organizational data was collected on the church in which the executive pastor was employed. This information may be used to collect demographic information in order to analyze the population and ultimately create a profile of the executive pastors participating in this research.

Personal/Professional Data

The personal/professional demographic data that was requested in the survey gathered information on the background of the respondent. This data included age, race, gender, professional experience, previous secular experience, and educational background. All information was self-reported.

Age and Gender

The details of the personal and professional findings revealed specifics about the age, race, and gender of the executive pastors being studied. Twenty-eight (76%) of the respondents were between the age of 45-54. Five (14%) of the respondents were younger than age 45. Four indicated 35-44 and one indicated 25-34. Four (11%) executive pastors were over 55. Only one person responded in the 25-34 age category. Table 2 illustrates the age dispersion of the executive pastor population. Every executive pastor surveyed was male. Each of the respondents indicated that they were Caucasian.

Table 2. Executive Pastors Grouped by Age; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

Under 25

0

0%

25-34

1

3%

35-44

4

11%

45-54

28

76%

55 and Over

4

11%

Years in Ministry

The overall years of experience in the ministry revealed the maturity of the group. Twenty (54%) of the executive pastors had ministry experience exceeding 25 years. Six (16%) executive pastors had 21-25 years in ministry and six (16%) respondents had 16-20 years in the ministry. Three (8%) had between 11-15 years. There was one person in the 6-10 year category. Additionally, one person indicated below five years of experience in vocational ministry. Table 3 illustrates the numbers and percentages of the years in vocational ministry of the executive pastors.

Table 3. Executive Pastors Grouped byYears in Vocational Ministry; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

Under 5

1

3%

6-10

1

3%

11-15

3

8%

16-20

6

16%

21-25

6

16%

Over 25

20

54%

Years in Current Position

The years in current position reveal the tenure in the position of an executive pastor. Seventeen (45%) of the respondents had between 2-5 years in the position of an executive pastor. Eleven (30%) had 6-10 years in the position. Five (14%) had 11-15 years as an executive pastor. Three (8%) executive pastors held the position for 16-20 years. One person had been in the position for more than twenty years. Table 4 illustrates the years executive pastors have spent in their current positions.

Table 4. Executive Pastors Grouped by Years in Current Position; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

Under 1

0

0%

2-5

17

45%

6-10

11

30%

11-15

5

14%

16-20

3

8%

Over 20

1

3%

Education

The data collected in this category revealed if the participant held a bachelor, master, or doctoral degree. All of the executive pastors were college educated. Of the executive pastors surveyed, thirty-one (84%) held masters degrees. Six (16%) of the respondents held only undergraduate degrees. Table 5 illustrates the percentages of undergraduate and graduate degrees held by executive pastors.

Table 5. Executive Pastors Educational Level; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

None

0

0%

Undergraduate Only

6

16%

Graduate

31

84%

Of the masters degrees held, nineteen (51%) executive pastors indicated the M.R.E. degree, ten (30%) held the M.Div. degree, five (16%) held the M.B.A. degree, and one respondent indicated a master’s degree in the “other” category. Within the population of executive pastors holding these masters degrees, one person indicated holding both the M.A. and M.R.E. degrees, two respondents held both the M.R.E. and M.Div. degrees, and one executive pastor held both the M.R.E. and the M.B.A. degrees. Table 6 illustrates the types of master’s degrees held by the executive pastors. Five respondents reported doctoral degrees, four with the D.Min. degree and one held the Ed.D. degree. Table 7 illustrates the types of doctoral degrees held by the executive pastors.

Table 6. Executive Pastors Grouped by Master’s Degrees; N = 31

Category

Number

Percent

M.A. (only)

0

0%

M.S. (only)

0

0%

M.R.E. (only)

15

48%

M.Div. (only)

7

23%

M.B.A. (only)

3

10%

M.A. and M.R.E.

1

3%

M.R.E. and M.B.A.

1

3%

M.R.E. and M.Div.

2

6%

M.Div. and M.B.A.

1

3%

Other

1

3%

Table 7. Executive Pastors Grouped by Doctoral Degrees; N = 4

Category

Number

Percent

D.Min.

4

80%

Ed.D.

1

20%

Previous Experience

The previous experience category sought to understand the type and length of jobs held before being involved in vocational ministry. Fourteen (38%) of the respondents reported less than one year of previous secular experience. Thirteen (35%) reported between 2-5 years, four (11%) reported between 6-10 years, and three (8%) reported 11-15 years of secular experience. One person reported 16-20 years of previous experience in a secular vocation. There were two (5%) executive pastors who reported over twenty years of previous secular experience. Table 8 illustrates the amount of experience previous to the executive pastors’ ministry vocation.

Table 8. Executive Pastors Grouped by Years in Previous Secular Experience; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

None

13

35%

Under 1

1

3%

2-5

13

35%

6-10

4

11%

11-15

3

8%

16-20

1

3%

Over 20

2

5%

The types of positions held previously were relatively evenly distributed across the categories. Three (13%) executive pastors held positions in banking or finance, five (21%) in service industries, three (13%) in manufacturing or engineering related positions, three (13%) in education, three (13%) in construction, and seven (29%) held positions in sales related occupations. No one reported previous experience in medicine or legal professions. Table 9 illustrates the percentages and categories of previous secular experience.

Table 9. Executive Pastors Grouped by Type of Previous Secular Experience; N = 24

Category

Number

Percent

Banking

3

13%

Service

5

19%

Manufacturing/ Engineering

3

13%

Medical

0

0%

Education

3

13%

Legal

0

0%

Construction

3

13%

Other

7

29%

Organizational Data

The organizational data that was requested in the survey parallels the MMEPC membership data. This ensured the validity of the respondent to this study and provided insight into the possible variance of practices activity and importance rating due to church size. Organizational information included the number of adults, teenagers, and children who attended on average the weekly worship services, the average weekly Sunday school attendance, the annual church budget, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) ministry staff positions, and the organizational structure.

Membership

This category sought to determine the number of people who were on the membership role of the churches involved in this study. Seven (19%) of the executive pastors reported church membership under 5,000. There was one response each for the two lowest categories ranging from under 2,000 and from 2,000-2,999. Three (8%) of the executive pastors reported church membership between 3,000 and 3,999 and two (5%) reported 4,000-4,999.

Thirty (81%) of the respondents reported church membership of over 5,000. Eighteen (49%) respondents reported membership between 5,000 and 8,999. The subsets of membership reported were seven (19%) between 5,000-5,999, four (11%) between 6,000-6,999, five (14%) between 7,000-7,999, and two (5%) between 8,000-8,999. The largest membership was reported by 33% of the executive pastors in two subgroups. Four (11%) reported membership between 9,000-9,999 and eight (22%) reported a membership of over 10,000. Table 10 illustrates the membership sizes of the represented churches.

Table 10. Churches Grouped by Membership; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

Under 1,999

1

3%

2,000-2,999

1

3%

3,000-3,999

3

8%

4,000-4,999

2

5%

5,000-5,999

7

19%

6,000-6,999

4

11%

7,000-7,999

5

14%

8,000-8,999

2

5%

9,000-9,999

4

11%

Over 10,000

8

22%

Worship Attendance

This category sought to determine the average number of people who weekly attend a large group worship event. The entire group was distributed into two groups. Eighteen (49%) of the executive pastors reported a weekly average of under 3,000 and nineteen (51%) reported the average to be over 3,000. The subset of the under 3,000 attendance grouping revealed that three (8%) of the churches reported attendance at under 1,499, five (14%) reported between 1,500-1,999, six (16%) reported between 2,000-2,499, and four (11%) reported between 2,500-2,999. In the over 3,000 attendance group, eight (22%) reported 3,000-3,499, three (8%) reported 3,500-3,999, two (5%) reported 4,000-4,499, and six (16%) reported over 5,000 in average weekly attendance. There were no churches that reported 4,500-4,999 in the average weekly worship attendance category. Table 11 illustrates the average annual worship attendance sizes of the represented churches.

Table 11. Churches Grouped by Average Worship Attendance; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

Under 1,499

3

8%

1,500-1,999

5

14%

2,000-2,499

6

16%

2,500-2,999

4

11%

3,000-3,499

8

22%

3,500-3,999

3

8%

4,000-4,499

2

5%

4,500-4,999

0

0%

Over 5,000

6

16%

Sunday School Attendance

Sunday school refers to small group Bible studies that occur weekly. This category also includes every age group. In this category, twenty-four (64%) of the executive pastors reported an average of less than 2,500 people in Sunday school. Thirteen (36%) of the churches reported an average Sunday school attendance of over 2,500. Of all the respondents, thirty-two (87%) of the churches reported an average attendance of less than 3,500. Within the individual categories for average weekly Sunday school attendance six (16%) reported under 1,499, seven (19%) reported 1,500-1,999, and 11 (30%) reported 2,000-2,499. Four (11%) churches reported Sunday school attendance in each of the categories of 2,500-2,999 and 3,000-3,499. Two (5%) churches reported 3,500-3,999. There was one (3%) church in each of the remaining three categories of 4,000-4,499, 4,500-4,999, and over 5,000. Table 12 illustrates the average annual Sunday school attendance sizes of the represented churches.

Table 12. Churches Grouped by Average Sunday School Attendance; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

Under 1,499

6

16%

1,500-1,999

7

19%

2,000-2,499

11

30%

2,500-2,999

4

11%

3,000-3,499

4

11%

3,500-3,999

2

5%

4,000-4,499

1

3%

4,500-4,999

1

3%

Over 5,000

1

3%

Church Budget

This category asked the respondents for the total annual receipts of their church. Nineteen (51%) of the churches reported an annual budget of less than $5,000,000. Eighteen (49%) churches reported a budget of over $5,000,000. The subsets of these two categories revealed the budget sizes of these churches. Four (11%) reported a budget less than $2,999,999. Two (5%) churches reported a budget between $3,000,000-3,499,999. There were no responses from churches reporting a budget between $3,500,000-3,999,999. Thirteen (35%) churches reported a budget of $4,000,000-4,999,999. Two (5%) churches reported $5,000,000-5,999,999. Three (8%) churches each reported between $6,000,000-6,999,999 and $7,000,000-7,999,999. One church reported an annual budget of $8,000,000-8,999,999. Two (8%) of the churches reported a budget between $9,000,000 and $9,999,999. The largest budget of over $10,000,000 was reported by seven (19%) executive pastors. Table 13 illustrates the budget sizes of the represented churches.

Table 13. Churches Grouped by Annual Budget; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

Under $2,999,999

4

11%

$3,000,000-3,499,999

2

5%

$3,500,000-3,999,999

0

0%

$4,000,000-4,999,999

13

35%

$5,000,000-5,999,999

2

5%

$6,000,000-6,999,999

3

8%

$7,000,000-7,999,999

3

8%

$8,000,000-8,999,999

1

3%

$9,000,000-9,999,999

2

5%

Over $10,000,000

7

19%

Pastoral FTE

This category asked the respondents for the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) ministry staff related to pastoral ministry positions. Seventeen (46%) reported fifteen or fewer FTE staff. Twenty (54%) executive pastors reported 16 or more FTE staff. The subsets of these two categories revealed the FTE staff sizes of these churches.

No churches reported 1-4 staff. Five (14%) churches reported 5-10 FTE staff. The largest group of 12 (32%) reported 11-15 FTE staff positions. Eight (22%) reported 16-20, three (8%) reported between 21-35, two (5%) reported between 26-30, and seven (19%) of the churches reported staff FTE over thirty. Table 14 illustrates the ministry FTE sizes of the represented churches.

Table 14. Churches Grouped by Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Ministry Staff; N = 37

Category

Number

Percent

1-4

0

0%

5-10

5

14%

11-15

12

32%

16-20

8

22%

21-25

3

8%

26-30

2

5%

Over 30

7

19%

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure was determined by the responses to two questions: “What positions report directly to you?” and “To whom do you report?” These questions gathered additional data on the reporting structure within the church. This also sought to reveal how the churches with the function of an executive pastor were aligned. One hundred percent of the executive pastors who were surveyed reported directly to the senior pastor. While some churches shared the direct reporting relationship with the executive pastor for decision-making and communication purposes, each respondent indicated that all staff reported through the executive pastor to the senior pastor.

Summary of Research Question 1

This research question may be helpful in determining a profile of the executive pastor in the MMEPC. A rounded mean of the data was calculated to determine the mid-point of each demographic and organizational category. Table 15 displays each category with the mean, median, mode, maximum, minimum, and standard deviation. The mean revealed the average executive pastor’s age to be 45-54, with 21-25 years of ministry experience. He held his current position for 6-10 years, with previous work experience of 2-5 years. This executive pastor had one graduate degree. The organizational mean score revealed a church membership between of approximately 7,000, an average weekly worship attendance of approximately 3,000, and an average weekly Sunday school attendance of 2,500. The annual average budget was approximately $6,000,000. The FTE pastoral staff was between 16-20.

Table 15. General Statistical Results for Demographic Data

(For Table 15, please see PDF below article)

Research Question 2

Research Question 2 asks, “What is the rank order and relative agreement of the perceived competency importance reported by the executive pastors?” The mean score provided the ranking of the level of importance the executive pastor placed on each item. Standard deviation was used to determine the level of agreement of the responses between executive pastors. The mean scores were also calculated to determine the importance ranking by the respondents for each factor and sub-factor.

Competency Item Rankings

The importance level was rated as 1 being of very little importance, 2 being somewhat important, 3 being important, 4 being very important, 5 being considerably important, and 6 being extremely important. The mean scores were calculated providing the overall rating for each item. The mode for every item rated either 4.00, 5.00, or 6.00. All fifty items received a maximum score of 6.00. The minimum scores per item were more dispersed. Five items had a minium score of 4, seventeen scored a 3, fourteen scored a 2, and fourteen items scored a 1. Since no item received a mean ranking total of 6.00, there were no items classified overall in the extremely high category. The mean scores indicated that thirteen (26%) of the items were rated as considerably important, thirty-three (66%) were rated as very important, and four or 8% were indicated as important by the executive pastors. No competency mean calculations were rated as somewhat important or of very little importance. Standard deviation (SD) was included to reveal the relative agreement of the responses. Table A4 in Appendix 4 displays the mean-rank order, factor, sub-factor, and standard deviation of all competency items.

Factor and Sub-Factor Rankings

The competency items were delineated into factors. Two of the competency factors consist of subfactors. Factor 1 centers on pathfinding skills which related to the managerial planning function. The two subfactors for factor 1 are strategic pathfinding (1a) and operational pathfinding (1b). Factor 2 focuses on items pertaining to interpersonal skills. There are no subfactors for this factor. Factor 3 is related to implementation and decision-making skills. The three subfactors center on staffing (3a), directing (3b), and controlling (3c). Spurious items were designated by Boersma as “Competencies which load highest under a particular factor but with factor loadings less than +.47.” This means that the item was close enough in relationship to the other items in the sub-factor, but outside the intended validation to exist without a special indication. The factor and sub-factor indications are also included. Spurious items are indicated by an “s” in the sub-factor name.

The mean scores revealed that the executive pastors rated factor 2, interpersonal skills, as the highest factor at 4.90. Factor 3, implementation and decision-making skills, received a mean score of 4.83. Factor 1, pathfinding skills, was rated third with a mean score of 4.40. Factor 3 contains the subfactors of staffing, directing, and controlling. Within the sub-factors, directing (3b) items were rated most important in this area with a mean score of 4.89. The controlling (3c) sub-factor received a mean score of 4.85. Staffing (3a) received a mean score of 4.73. Within the pathfinding skills, factor 1, the items related to operational pathfinding (1b) had a mean score of 4.43. Strategic pathfinding (1a) received the lowest mean score of 4.37. The hierarchy of scores is as follows:

  1. Interpersonal skills (2)
  2. Directing (3a)
  3. Controlling (3c)
  4. Staffing (3a)
  5. Operational pathfinding (1b)
  6. Strategic pathfinding (1a)

Table 16 reveals the factors and related means scores. This table also shows the sub-factors and related mean scores. This table illustrates the relationship of the mean score to the ranking of factors and sub-factors.

Table 16. Competency Factor/Sub-Factor by Mean Rank Order; N = 37

 

Competency Factor/Sub-Factor

1: Pathfinding Skills

2: Interpersonal Skills

3: Implementation/Decision-Making Skills

Factor Mean

4.40

4.90

4.83

Factor SD

0.6662

0.5788

0.5147

 

1a: Strategic Pathfinding

1b: Operational Pathfinding

 

3a: Staffing

3b: Directing

3c: Controlling

Sub Factor Mean

4.37

4.43

4.73

4.89

4.85

Sub-Factor SD

0.6763

0.7116

0.7407

0.4794

0.6511

Factors Ranked as Considerably Important

Competency items from all three factors appeared in the group with a mean score between 5.00 and 5.46. The respondents stated that without this competency an executive pastor would be significantly handicapped in effectiveness. In this top group, factor 2 accounts for seven of the thirteen items. Factor 2 competency items related to interpersonal skills. Items in this factor focused on building staff morale, creating harmony for achieving goals and objectives, facilitating conflict management, creating an environment of independent thought and action, utilizing leadership skills, leading boards, committees and other groups within the church, and understanding and using the knowledge of power and authority effectively. Within this ranking, factor 3 items appeared three times. Within sub-factor 3b, related to directing, there are two items centered on giving clear direction and managing time and priorities. The 3c sub-factor, controlling, deals with budgeting related activities. Factor 1 items appeared three times. Two of these occurrences were strategic pathfinding (1a) sub-factor items centering on identifying issues or situations that may impede the church reaching its goals and maintaining a staffing plan related to the churches’ goals and objectives. A lone operational pathfinding sub-factor (1b) item that centers on maintaining a communications plan is also in this top group. Table 17 illustrates the competencies ranked as considerably important.

Table 17. Competencies Ranked as Considerably Important by Mean Rank Order; N = 37

Item

Competency

Rank

Mean

Factor

SD

45

Build and maintain staff morale (esprit de corps).

1

5.46

2

0.7568

7

Make decisions and give clear, concise direction to the work of paid/volunteer staff.

2

5.32

3b

0.6598

17

Plan and use time effectively in setting priorities for workload.

3

5.27

3bs

0.8269

31

Work to create harmony of all activities to facilitate achieving goals and objectives.

4

5.24

2

0.7130

43

Understand and apply skills of conflict management to resolve differences and encourage independent thought.

5

5.22

2

0.7027

44

Create an environment where independent thought is encouraged and occasional failure accepted.

6

5.19

2

0.6912

14

Budget the allocation of resources, both financial and otherwise, required to support approved programs.

7

5.14

3c

0.8435

13

Identify issues and/or situations, both within the church and the community, that could potentially threaten the church’s ability to accomplish its stated goals or objectives.

8

5.11

1as

0.7272

30

Use knowledge and skills of leadership techniques in managing the activities of staff.

9

5.11

2

0.7635

42

Develop and practice group leadership skills with boards, committees, and other groups within the church.

10

5.05

2

0.9571

29

Make use of well-planned information system to communicate with staff and leadership.

11

5.03

1b

0.7880

(Table 17 – Continued. Competencies ranked as considerably important by mean rank order N = 37)

Item

Competency

Rank

Mean

Factor

SD

15

Develop and maintain a staffing plan that is based upon the church’s goals and objectives.

12

5.00

1a

0.6576

41

Understand and use knowledge of power and authority effectively.

13

5.00

2

1.2302

Factors Ranked as Very Important

There were thirty-three items in the second grouping with mean scores ranging from 4.00 to 4.99. These competencies were determined by the executive pastors to be very important. This means that the executive pastor believed these competencies to be of major importance to the effectiveness of the executive pastor as a manager. To manage the discussion of the items in this grouping, the items with a score from 4.50 to 4.97 have been separated from the items ranking from 4.00 to 4.49. This delineation is for clarity only.

There were twenty items ranging from 4.51 to 4.97. Factor 1 items appeared seven times consisting of three 1a sub-factor items and four 1b sub-factor items. Factor 2 items appeared five times. Factor 3 items appeared eight times consisting of three 3a sub-factor items, three 3b sub-factor items, and two 3c sub-factor items. The sub-factor items under factor 3 appeared most frequently in this group. The three 3a sub-factor items were related to the activities of recruiting selecting and training, defining individual qualification requirements for each staff and leadership position, and modifying the organizational plan to account for available staff and volunteers. The 3b items related to the management actions of facilitating communication, decision-making and problem solving, managing change to avoid alienating the congregation, and applying policies, procedures, and rules uniformly to all personnel.

Factor 1b, operational pathfinding, items appeared four times in this group. These competencies related to understanding and assessing the planning needs of the church, conducting consistent staff evaluations and performance coaching activities, and applying consistent standards for evaluation that supports the church’s mission, objectives, and management planing, and to develop and set individual performance standards for the staff. The strategic pathfinding (1a) items in this group focused on identifying and organizing key activities and programs to help bring about the church’s goals and objectives, and developing and maintaining the church’s mission statement.

The factor 2 items had the single highest frequency of any single sub-factor grouping in this section. Factor 2 as a sub-factor appeared five times. These items related to designing and modifying individual positions to fit capabilities and motivations of existing staff, participating in continuing education programs, developing and using evaluation standards that are compatible with the organization, applying appropriate communication techniques to individuals and groups in the church, and delegating authority and responsibility to the lowest competent operational level within the staff or volunteers.

There were thirteen items with mean scores between 4.03 and 4.49. Factor 1 items appeared ten times. Sub-factor 1b, operational pathfinding, appeared seven times in this section. The competencies in this group center on orientation programs, maintaining job descriptions, determining what data is critical for monitoring progress, developing a reporting system, developing leadership development programs, maintaining the organizational chart, and assisting staff and lay leaders to develop written plans and measurement criteria for achieving their goals and objectives. Sub-factor 1a, strategic pathfinding, appeared three times. These competencies relate to developing policies and procedures that support the mission of the church, developing and maintaining written measurement statements of goals and objectives that translate into achieving the mission of the church, and developing a values statement that identifies constraints to the planning process. Factor 2 appears once with a competency related involving staff and lay leaders in the development of performance standards. Factor 3 appeared twice. Sub-factor 3a appears once relating to involving staff and lay leadership the development of a mission and purpose statement. Sub-factor 3b appears once in this section and is related to harmonizing a person’s individual goals with the goals of the church. Table 18 illustrates the competencies ranked as very important.

Table 18. Competencies Ranked as Very Important by Mean Rank Order; N = 37

Item

Competency

Rank

Mean

Factor

SD

16

Assist in recruiting, selecting, training, and developing staff, lay leadership, board and committee members, and volunteers.

14

4.97

3a

0.8216

1

Participate with the governing body of the church in defining individual qualifications required for each staff and leadership position.

15

4.97

3a

1.0777

2

Group activities to facilitate communication, decision-making, and problem solving while providing for the ongoing tasks of the church.

16

4.95

3b

0.8682

25

Develop and maintain an organizational plan/structure to fit the church’s strategic plan, goals and objectives.

17

4.95

1b

0.9284

9

Adjust plans and take corrective action to put activities or programs back on target when required.

18

4.89

3c

0.8632

23

Have a thorough knowledge of the skills of the planning process and the ability to use it to assess the planning needs of the church.

19

4.89

1a

1.0599

5

Plan and initiate change (when needed) effectively so as to minimize alienating members of the congregation.

20

4.84

3b

0.9448

33

Design or modify individual positions to fit capabilities and/or motivation of the existing staff.

21

4.78

2

0.9624

39

Participate in continuing education programs to broaden personal understanding and abilities in such areas as: motivation, communication, encouragement, and evaluation.

22

4.78

2

1.1422

(Table 18 – Continued. Competencies Ranked as Very Important by Mean Rank Order; N = 37)

Item                     Competency

50     Conduct consistent staff evaluations that effectively tie rewards   (praise, remuneration, and discipline) to performance and counsel staff and leadership on means to improve performance.

Rank 23

Mean 4.76

Factor 1b

SD

0.8189

3

Apply policies, procedures, and rules to all personnel uniformly.

24

4.76

3b

0.9974

10

Modify the organizational plan to take into account available staff and volunteers.

25

4.68

3a

0.9021

48

Apply standards of evaluation in monitoring activities that are consistent with the church’s mission, philosophy, objectives, and management plan.

26

4.62

1b

1.0992

46

Develop and use evaluation standards that are accurate, suitable, objective, flexible, economical, and mirror the organizational pattern of the church.

27

4.59

2

0.8530

36

Apply knowledge of appropriate communication techniques in directing both staff and congregation towards achievement of personal and group goals and objectives.

28

4.59

2

0.8841

22

Identify and prioritize, in an orderly fashion, key activities or programs to help bring about effective accomplishment of the stated goals/objectives.

29

4.59

1a

0.9989

35

Develop and keep up-to-date a mission or purpose statement that identifies the reason for the existence of the church (e.g. develop and articulate a vision or “scenario” for the future).

30

4.57

1a

1.3263

8

Maintain an evaluation program that provides on going, continuous feedback on all major areas of activity throughout the church.

31

4.51

3c

0.9189

(Table 18 – Continued. Competencies Ranked as Very Important by Mean Rank Order; N = 37)

Item

Competency

Rank

Mean

Factor

SD

26

Develop and set individual performance standards for members of the staff.

32

4.51

1b

0.9479

28

38

Delegate authority and responsibility to the lowest competent operational level among the staff and lay leaders in a manner that assures their ability to accomplish the results expected of them.

Plan staff and membership development activities, including orientation.

33

34

4.51

4.49

2s

1bs

1.1058

1.0811

32

Develop and/or maintain specific, written job descriptions for paid staff and leadership positions to meet the changing needs of the church.

35

4.41

1b

1.2183

27

Determine what, when, and how critical data should be gathered to monitor overall progress toward the church’s goals and objectives.

36

4.38

1b

0.9401

24

Develop a reporting system to monitor the implementation of the plan.

37

4.32

1b

1.0668

21

Develop and administer a leadership training program designed to provide an ever increasing number of potential leaders.

38

4.32

1bs

1.0918

4

Involve the existing staff and lay leadership in the process of developing a mission or purpose statement.

39

4.30

3as

1.4494

11

Develop and maintain a church-wide organizational chart that depicts line and staff authority relationships, responsibilities, and promotes communication among the church staff, boards, committees, and general congregation.

40

4.27

1b

1.1306

(Table 18 – Continued. Competencies Ranked as Very Important by Mean Rank Order; N = 37)

Item

Competency

Rank

Mean

Factor

SD

47

Involve staff and lay leadership in the development of performance standards.

41

4.22

2

1.0688

19

Develop and set policies and procedures in line with the church’s stated mission and plans that meet the needs of the church.

42

4.19

1a

1.0613

6

Harmonize the personal goals of individuals with the goals of the church.

43

4.19

3b

1.0865

12

Help other staff and lay leaders develop and write specific activities or actions, including setting target dates, time frames, and criteria for evaluation.

44

4.16

1b

1.2195

37

Develop and keep up-to-date written, measurable statements of goals/objectives, both short and long-range, that translate into action the “mission” of the church.

45

4.11

1a

1.0851

20

Develop with staff and lay leaders a statement of values that identify the important constraints on the planning process.

46

4.03

1a

1.1965

Factors Ranked as Important

There were four items in the third group with mean scores ranging from 3.57 to 3.97. These competencies were determined to be important. This ranking signified that the respondent believed these competencies to be of notable value to the executive pastor’s effectiveness, but not of major importance. Factor 1 items appeared twice. Sub-factors 1a and 1b each appeared two times. The sub-factor 1b items relate to developing and maintaining a human resources plan to match skills with needs and implementing management by objective as part of the control or evaluation program. Sub-factor 1a in this section focuses on developing and keeping an up-to-date philosophy statement that supports the executive pastors’s position on ministry and planning and implementing a needs assessment with the congregation to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the church. There were no items that received a mean score below 3.57. Table 19 illustrates the competencies which were rated as important.

Table 19. Competencies Ranked as Important by Mean Rank Order; N = 37

Item

Competency

Rank

Mean

Factor

SD

40

Develop and maintain a human resource plan that identifies the skills and talents of the church membership to match competencies and talents of individuals to the needs of the church.

47

3.97

1bs

1.1267

49

Make use of techniques such as Management by Objectives as part of the control or evaluation program.

48

3.81

1b

1.1111

34

Develop and keep up-to-date a philosophy statement that supports his position on ministry and the role of the pastor in the local church.

49

3.62

1a

1.0992

18

Plan and implement a “needs” assessment analysis with the congregation to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the church.

50

3.57

1a

0.9737

Summary of Research Question 2

Understanding the rank order based on the mean scores may provide insight into the areas of importance of these competencies by executive pastors. While there was a wide range of scores within each individual rating, the mode and median scores related enough information to determine the center point and frequency of the importance ratings. Standard deviation provided information on the relative agreement of the responses. The mean scores provided an overall picture of the importance placed on these items by the members of the MMEPC. The descriptions provided under each level of importance rating may be used to understand the details of the respondents’ choices.

Research Question 3

Research Question 3 asks, “How does the mean rank order results of the Boersma study of pastoral management competencies compare and contrast to the mean rank order of the executive pastors?” The purpose of this research question was to determine any similarities between the two studies. A mean score ranking was used to determine similarities between the items, factors, and sub-factor in the two studies.

Considerations When Comparing the Boersma Study to the Executive Pastor Study

The first related consideration was that the Boersma study was conducted using three different groups; pastors, theology faculty members, and lay leaders. Those scores were analyzed to develop the survey instrument. The Boersma study ultimately provided a mean score ranking of the fifty competence statements. This ranking was developed by taking the mean scores of all respondents to create the final competency ranking. The second consideration was the time factor between the first and second studies. The Boersma study was completed in 1988, which was sixteen years prior to this study. Another consideration was that the respondents were asked to rate these competencies in terms of pastors. This study sought responses from executive pastors who had a different job description. Finally, there was also an absence of raw data from the Boersma study. Only the mean scores were available. These were preliminary considerations related to comparing the two studies. These were not considerations related to the validity of the Boersma study or the appropriateness of using the Boersma study in this context.

This research question was answered in light of these known considerations. The mean scores of the executive pastor study were compared to the mean scores of the Boersma study for each item. The factors’ mean scores were also compared. The results of this comparison revealed similarities in the management and leadership competencies determined important by both pastors and executive pastors.

Competency Ranking Similarities

There were similarities in the items which received the highest scores. Six competencies appeared in the top eleven ranking of both studies. The top score of both the Boersma study and the executive pastor study was item 45 which related to building and maintaining staff morale. The other similar questions were 7, 17, 31, 43, and 44. Item 7 referred to making decisions and giving clear and concise direction. Item 17 referred to planning and using time effectively in setting priorities and workload. Item 31 related to working to create harmony of all activities to achieve goals and objectives. Applying skills and conflict management was similar in competency 43. Competency item 44 centered on encouraging independent thought and the acceptance of occasional failure.

When the range was expanded to similarities in the top twenty rankings, competencies 30, 42, 41, 16, 1, 2, 9, and 5 were on both lists. Item 30 related to using knowledge and skills of leadership with the staff. Item 42 focused on developing and practicing group leadership skills with the church board, committees, and other groups within the church. Item 41 referred to understating and using knowledge of power and authority effectively. Item 16 referred to the recruitment, selecting, training, and development function for staff and lay leaders. Item 1 focused on participating with the governing body of the church in defining individual qualifications required for each staff and leadership position. Item 2 referred to group activities to facilitate communication, decision-making, and problem solving. Item 9 centered on the competency of adjusting plans and taking action to put activities or programs back on track. Item 5 relates to planning and initiating change effectively to minimize alienating members of the congregation. Table 20 illustrates an overview of all the individual competency similarities between the two studies in the top twenty mean ranked items. Table 21 illustrates and details the competency similarities between the Boersma and Executive pastor studies. The shaded areas show Boersma items that were outside the top twenty ranking. (see PDF below article for shading)

Table 20. Similarities Between Boersma and Executive Pastor Mean for Top Twenty Items Rankings

Item

Competency

EP Rank

Boersma Rank

45

Build and maintain staff morale (esprit de corps).

1

1

7

Make decisions and give clear, concise direction to the work of paid/volunteer staff.

2

11

17

Plan and use time effectively in setting priorities for workload.

3

2

31

Work to create harmony of all activities to facilitate achieving goals and objectives.

4

7

43

Understand and apply skills of conflict management to resolve differences and encourage independent thought.

5

9

44

Create an environment where independent thought is encouraged and occasional failure accepted.

6

6

30

Use knowledge and skills of leadership techniques in managing the activities of staff.

9

20

42

Develop and practice group leadership skills with boards, committees, and other groups within the church.

10

15

41

Understand and use knowledge of power and authority effectively.

13

13

16

Assist in recruiting, selecting, training, and developing staff, lay leadership, board and committee members, and volunteers.

14

10

1

Participate with the governing body of the church in defining individual qualifications required for each staff and leadership position.

15

5

(Table 20 – Continued. Similarities Between Boersma and Executive Pastor Mean for Top Twenty Items Rankings

Item

Competency

EP Rank

Boersma Rank

2

Group activities to facilitate communication, decision-making, and problem solving while providing for the ongoing tasks of the church.

16

19

9

Adjust plans and take corrective action to put activities or programs back on target when required.

18

16

5

Plan and initiate change (when needed) effectively so as to minimize alienating members of the congregation.

20

3

Table 21. Comparison of Top Twenty Items in Executive Pastor and Boersma Study by Mean Rank Order

Item

EP Rank

EP Mean

Boersma Rank

Boersma Mean

Factor

45

1

5.46

1

4.97

2

7

2

5.32

11

4.47

3b

17

3

5.27

2

4.95

3bs

31

4

5.24

7

4.60

2

43

5

5.22

9

4.49

2

44

6

5.19

6

4.72

2

14

7

5.14

37

3.95

3c

13

8

5.11

43

3.81

1as

30

9

5.11

20

4.23

2

42

10

5.05

15

4.44

2

29

11

5.03

23

4.20

1b

15

12

5.00

26

4.11

1a

41

13

5.00

13

4.46

2

16

14

4.97

10

4.48

3a

1

15

4.97

5

4.77

3a

2

16

4.95

19

4.25

3b

25

17

4.95

41

3.87

1b

9

18

4.89

16

4.43

3c

23

19

4.89

35

4.02

1a

5

20

4.84

3

4.94

3b

Competency Ranking Variances

A calculation was made to determine which items showed the greatest variance in the scores of the two studies. Items 23, 28, 35, 47, and 50 showed a ranking variance of sixteen points. The executive pastors rated item 23, skills related to the planning process, and item 50, conducting staff evaluations, higher than the pastors. The pastor rated item 47, involving lay and staff leaders in developing performance standards, item 35, developing and keeping an up-to-date purpose statement, and item 28, delegating authority and responsibility to the lowest possible level, higher than the executive pastors. Item 5 showed a ranking variance of seventeen, item 34 has a variance of twenty, item 25 a variance of twenty-four, and item 20 a variance of twenty-eight. Item 20, developing a statement of values, item 34, developing and keeping an up-to-date ministry philosophy statement, and item 5, planning and initiating change were rated as lower by the executive pastors. Item 25, developing and maintaining and organizational structure plan, was rated higher by the pastors.

The items with the greatest variance were items 14, 18, and 21 with a variance of thirty and items 4 and 13 with a variance of thirty-five. In this group, items 18, planning and implementing a needs assessment within the congregation, and item 21, developing and administering leadership development training programs, were rated higher by the pastors. Item 14, skills related to budget allocation of resources, was rated higher by the executive pastors. Item 13, identifying issues or situation within the church and community that could potentially threaten the church’s ability to accomplish its goals, was rated significantly higher by the executive pastors. Item 39, participating in personal development programs related to motivation, communication, encouragement and evaluation, was rated significantly higher by the pastors. Table 22 illustrates the highest degree of mean rank order variance.

Table 22. Items With Highest Degree of Mean Rank Order Variance

Item

EP Rank

Boersma Rank

Sub-factor

Variance

13

8

43

1a

(35)

4

39

4

3a

(35)

21

38

8

1b

(30)

18

50

20

1a

(30)

14

7

37

3c

(30)

20

46

18

1a

(28)

25

17

41

1b

(24)

34

49

29

1a

(20)

5

20

3

3b

(17)

50

23

39

1b

(16)

47

41

25

2

(16)

35

30

14

1a

(16)

28

33

17

2s

(16)

23

19

35

1a

(16)

Factor and Sub-Factor Similarities

Fourteen out of the top twenty mean ranked items were similar between the executive pastor responses and the Boersma study. Combining the items into factors also provided insight into the similarities. Of the fourteen similar items, seven items fell into the interpersonal skills factor 2. The remaining seven items were associated with the implementation and decision-making skills within factor 3. There were two items of agreement for the staffing sub-factor (3a), three in the directing sub-factor (3b), and one in the controlling sub-factor (1c).

The major differences can be seen on the overall mean ranking of the factors and sub-factors between the two studies. Boersma’s findings revealed a factor ranking of 4.45 (very important) for factor 3, implementation and decision-making skills, 4.28 (very important) for interpersonal skills, and 4.00 (very important) for factor 1, pathfinding skills. The results of the executive pastors’ study revealed a ranking of 4.90 (considerably important) for factor 2, interpersonal skills, 4.83 (considerably important) for factor 3, interpersonal and decision-making skills, and 4.40 (very important) for factor 1, pathfinding skills. Table 23 illustrates the differences in the factor mean rank order.

Table 23. Differences in Factor Mean Rank Order

Factor

EP Rank

EP Mean

Boersma Rank

Boersma Mean

1

Pathfinding Skills

3

4.40

3

4.00

2

Interpersonal Skills

1

4.90

2

4.28

3

Implementation/Decision-Making Skills

2

4.83

1

4.45

The rankings of the sub-factors also revealed differences. Boersma’s findings revealed the sub-factors from highest to lowest mean ranking were 4.53 (very important) for staffing (3a), 4.52 (very important) for directing (3b), 4.28 (very important) for interpersonal skills (2), 4.17 (very important) for controlling (3c), 4.12 (very important) for strategic pathfinding (1a), and 3.92 (very important) for operational pathfinding (1b). The executive pastors’ results revealed sub-factor mean rankings of 4.90 (considerably important) for interpersonal skills (2), 4.89 (considerably important) for directing (3b), 4.85 (considerably important) for controlling (3c), 4.73 (considerably important) for staffing (3a), 4.43 (very important) for operational pathfinding (1b), and 4.37 (very important) for strategic pathfinding (1a). Table 24 illustrates the differences in sub-factor mean rank order.

Table 24. Differences in Sub-Factor Mean Rank Order

Factor

EP Rank

EP Mean

Boersma Rank

Boersma Mean

1a

Strategic Pathfinding

6

4.37

5

4.12

1b

Operational Pathfinding

5

4.43

6

3.92

2

Interpersonal Skills

1

4.90

3

4.28

3a

Staffing

3

4.73

1

4.53

3b

Directing

2

4.89

2

4.52

3c

Controlling

4

4.85

4

4.17

Summary of Research Question 3

Understanding the similarities in the rank order of individual items and factors and sub-factors provided insight into how pastors and executive pastors view managerial competencies. Remembering that the Boersma study mean rank score consisted of responses by pastors, lay leaders and seminary faculty, provides additional insight into the differences between the two groups that were studied. While there was a wide range of differences within the mean scores, there were some consistencies. The mean scores provided an overall picture of the importance placed on these items, factors, and sub-factors by both the members of the MMEPC and the respondents from the 1988 Boersma study.

Research Question 4

Research Question 4 asks, “What are the identifiable characteristics, such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size, that are associated with the importance rating of the competencies?” This question attempted to determine if the background demographics were a factor in how the executive pastors rated the importance of the competencies.

Demographic Correlations

In order to determine whether any relationships existed between each individual demographic variable and the importance rating for each of the competencies, a linear regression analysis was utilized. For each of the thirty-four demographic variables, a correlation coefficient (r) was calculated to determine the existence or lack of relationship with each of the fifty competencies. The result was the examination of 1,700 possible relationships. The following determination was used to determine the strength of a relationship: 1.0 > r > 0.8 is a strong correlation, 0.8 > r > 0.5 is a moderate correlation and r > 0.5 is a weak correlation. For each of these tests, a 95% confidence interval was used, so [a] = 0.05. If the p-value for each test is less than 0.05, then the possibility for linear correlation was assumed.

Competency Items

There were specific correlations between individual competency items and demographic variables. Personal and organizational data, when compared to each of the fifty competencies, showed instances where individuals with certain demographic variables ranked certain competency items significantly higher or lower. This data appeared to have little summary relationship to this research question and has been included in Appendix 5 rather than in this section. The comparison of demographic variables to the factors and sub-factors is presented in detail in this section.

Factor and Sub-Factor Correlations

The first analysis of relationship between the competencies and demographic variables discussed is factor 1, pathfinding skills. When competencies were grouped according to the strategic pathfinding sub-factor (1a), there were no significant differences in the mean importance rating for any of the demographic variables. When the competencies were grouped according to the operational pathfinding sub-factor (1b), the following demographic variables showed statistically different means:

  1. Executive pastors with undergraduate degrees only (6) rated the operational pathfinding sub-factor (1b) significantly higher than executive pastors with masters or doctoral degrees (31).
  2. Executive pastors with the M.Div. degree (11) rated the operational pathfinding sub-factor (1b) competencies significantly lower than executive pastors without the M.Div degree (26).

The second analysis of relationship between the competencies and demographic variables discussed was factor 2, interpersonal skills. When the competencies were grouped according to the interpersonal skills factor (2), the following demographics showed statically different means:

  1. Executive pastors with the M.A. degree (1) rated factor 2 significantly lower than executive pastors without the M.A. degree (36).
  2. Executive pastors with the D.Min. degree (4) rated factor 2 significantly lower than executive pastors without the D.Min. degree (33).

The last analysis of relationship between the competencies and demographic variables discussed was factor 3, implementation and decision-making skills. When the competencies were grouped according to the staffing sub-factor (3a), the following demographics showed statistically different means: Executive pastors with an Ed.D. or Ph.D. degree (1) rated the staffing sub-factor (3a) significantly lower than the executive pastors without research doctoral degrees (36). When competencies were grouped according to the directing sub-factor (3b), the following demographic showed statistically different means: The four executive pastors in the age group 35-44 rated the staffing sub-factor (3b) significantly lower than executive pastors in other age groups. When the competencies were grouped according to the controlling sub-factor (3c), there were no significant differences in the average importance rating for any of the demographics. Table 25 illustrates the respondents with demographic variables that have a significant correlation with competency sub-factors.

Table 25. Significant Correlation Between Demographic Variables and Competency Sub-Factors

Related Sub-Factor

Demographic Variable

Responses

Mean

Population Mean

1a

None

4.37

1b

Undergraduate Degree Only

6

4.99

4.43

1b

M.Div.

11

4.28

4.43

2

M.A.

1

3.69

4.90

2

D.Min.

4

4.29

4.90

3a

Ed.D./Ph.D.

1

3.00

4.73

3b

Age 35-44

4

4.33

4.89

3c

None

4.85

Summary of Research Question 4

This research question sought to gather information on variables that may have influenced the respondents importance rating of the competency items. The individual items, factors, and sub-factors were analyzed for this purpose. This information may be useful to determine if an executive pastors’ responses can be correlated to any demographic variable.

Research Question 5

Research Question 5 asks, “What is the relationship between the self-reported job satisfaction, performance, and preparation ratings of the executive pastors?” This question attempted to better understand how the executive pastor rated these three areas. A mean score was calculated for each. The responses were correlated to determine any relationship between the questions. An additional correlation was calculated to determine if any background information was a factor in their responses.

Mean Ranking and Correlation

Three questions were asked of each respondent. To determine satisfaction, the question was asked, “How fulfilled or gratified are you in your career as an executive pastor?” To determine performance, the question was asked, “How do you rate your effectiveness as an executive pastor?” To determine preparation, the question was asked, “How prepared do you believe you were for your role as executive pastor from your previous education, experience, and training?” All the responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 6 with 1 rated as extremely low, 2 rated as very low, 3 rated as low, 4 rated as high, 5 rated as very high, and 6 rated as extremely high. All of the responses were self-reported.

The mean scores were calculated providing the overall rating for each item. The overall mean rank order yielded satisfaction to be ranked as highest with a mean rank score of 5.16. This mean score placed satisfaction in the very high category overall. This indicated that the overall statement of satisfaction by the executive pastor would be: “You consider your satisfaction to be well above your expectations in your experience as an executive pastor.” Performance rated second with a mean rank order of 4.89. The lowest mean rank order was preparation with a mean rank order of 4.78. These mean scores placed performance and preparation in the high category overall. These two items indicated that the overall statement of performance and preparation by the executive pastor would be: “You consider your performance and preparation to be somewhat acceptable in your experience as executive pastor within your church.” Table 26 illustrates the mean rank order and standard deviation for these questions.

Table 26. Mean Rank Order for Satisfaction, Performance, and Preparation; N = 37

Mean

Standard Deviation

Mode

Median

Satisfaction

5.16

0.8224

5.00

5.00

Performance

4.89

0.5591

5.00

5.00

Preparation

4.78

1.0170

4.00

5.00

The calculation was made to determine the relationships of the performance, preparation, and satisfaction scores against all of the demographics. In order to determine whether any relationship exists between each individual demographic variable and the importance rating for satisfaction, performance, and preparation a simple linear regression analysis was used. For each of the thirty-four demographic variables, a correlation coefficient (r) was calculated to determine the existence or lack thereof with satisfaction, performance, and preparation. When attempting to determine the strength of relationship, the following determination was used: 1.0 > r > 0.8 is strong correlation, 0.8 > r > 0.5 is moderate correlation, and 0.5 > r is weak correlation. For each of these tests, a 95% confidence interval was used, so [a]= 0.05. If the p-value for each test was less than 0.05, then an assumption was made that there was the possibility for linear correlation.

While the scores varied somewhat within each demographic, factor, and sub-factor categories, there was only one correlation among all the possible variations. This was a moderate correlation between the preparation and performance scores. There is a moderate likelihood that executive pastors were increasingly prepared for their role from previous education, experience or training rate their performance at an increasingly higher level. If the p-value < [a], the hypothesis was rejected. The r statistic shows a positive slope, and a moderate correlation between the two variables of performance and preparation existed.

Satisfaction

The percentages of the population for each answer also provided insight into how the group rated each question. When responding to the job satisfaction question, “How fulfilled or gratified are you in your career as an executive pastor?” fourteen (38%) rated their satisfaction as extremely high. Seventeen (46%) rated their satisfaction as very high, four (11%) rated their satisfaction as high, and two (5%) respondents rated their satisfaction as low. In summary, thirty-one (84%) rated their satisfaction as very high or extremely high while the remaining six (16%) respondents rated this category as either high or low.

Performance

When responding to the job performance question,“How do you rate your effectiveness as an executive pastor?”, four (11%) rated their performance as extremely high. Twenty-five (68%) rated their performance as very high. Eight (22%) rated their performance as high. There were no responses for low, very low or extremely low for this question. In summary, twenty-nine (79%) executive pastors rated their performance as very high or extremely high while the remaining eight (21%) of the respondents rated this category as high.

Preparation

When responding to the job preparation question, “How prepared do you believe you were for your role as executive pastor from your previous education, experience, and training?” eleven (30%) rated their preparation as extremely high. Eleven (30%) rated their preparation as very high. Twelve (32%) rated their preparation as high. Two (5%) rated their preparation as low and one (3%) rated his preparation for the executive pastor position as very low. In summary, twenty-two (60%) of the executive pastors rated their preparation as very high or extremely high. Three (8%) rated their preparation for this position as low or very low. Table 27 illustrates the relationship of the responses to satisfaction, performance, and preparation questions.

Table 27. Number and Percent Responses to Satisfaction, Performance, and Preparation; N = 37

Satisfaction

Performance

Preparation

Count

Percent

Count

Percent

Count

Percent

6 Extremely High

14

38%

4

11%

11

30%

5 Very High

17

46%

25

68%

11

30%

4 High

4

11%

8

21%

12

32%

3 Low

2

5%

2

5%

2 Very Low

1

3%

1 Extremely Low

Summary of Research Question 5

Understanding how the executive pastors responded to questions regarding job satisfaction, performance, and preparation may provide insight for assisting with training and personal job related concerns. This information may be useful in understanding how the executive pastor views his position. While there was some range of differences within the mean scores, there were consistencies. The mean scores provided an overall picture of the ranking of satisfaction, performance, and preparation by the respondents.

Evaluation of the Research Design

There were certain strengths to this research design. The field-test was successful and utilized the right mix of participants. Using the MMEPC as a population for this foundational study provided an intact group allowing easy contact to a group of mega-church executive pastors. The mailing process appeared to work well as it received no complaints and a 71% return rate. The survey instrument was clear in the instructions for use. The amount of time needed for the participant to complete the entire survey was approximately twenty minutes. The demographic information requested was broad enough to provide insight into the personal and organizational background of the participant and the church.

The competency items in the survey were more managerial than leadership. Basically, this means that the competencies were focused on doing the right activities correctly. The survey instrument was based on a validated survey of management and leadership competencies that are appropriate for local church administration. This was supported through the precedent literature review on management, leadership, and the position of the executive pastor. Research Question 1 was appropriate to create a seminal demographic profile of a mega-church executive pastor. Having a research question related to the importance rating of management and leadership competencies assisted in providing an addition to the body of knowledge about executive pastors’ views on this subject related to their positions. The satisfaction, performance, and preparation question proved very useful in completing a seminal executive pastor profile.

There were limitations to this methodology and improvements could be made to increase effectiveness for future similar studies. An online survey delivery and retrieval system would have been faster and more manageable. This study had to begin the process of studying the executive pastor, but the MMEPC population size limited some of the research activities that were initially determined appropriate for this study. A larger sample or population should be considered for future research. An increased population or sample will allow for a more complete profile, thus having more information on trends of answers based on demographics. If an attempt to determine the relationships of background information to the responses is desired, a larger population and sample will provide a more robust opportunity for correlations. Demographic categories may also need to be tested for even more common delineations. There will be no need to compare data in the future with Boersma study as this has been completed.

Chapter 5—Conclusions

The focus of this research study was to explore the importance rating of leadership and management competencies as reported by executive pastors. Additionally, the study examined the relationships between demographic data and the competency importance ratings. Understanding how the executive pastor viewed his job performance, preparation, and satisfaction was also considered. This data may assist in moving toward a definition or profile of the executive pastor position. It was the desire of the researcher to provide information that will be helpful to churches, executive pastors currently in the position, those moving into the position, and training institutions dedicated to the work of developing leaders who serve Jesus Christ.

Research Purpose

Leadership and management competencies, abilities, or practices have been identified by for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. There were also identified competencies in the fields of theology and Christian education that have been cited as important to pastors. This qualitative, descriptive research study was intended to observe this new phenomenon by identifying executive pastors’ perception of the leadership and management competencies needed for local church administration. Demographic data including personal and professional experience was studied and analyzed to identify relationships between the executive pastors’ response and his background.

The fifty competencies identified in the 1988 study of pastoral managerial competencies by Stephen A. Boersma were foundational to this study. This research project also compared the findings of this study with the Boersma findings. While this study attempted to take a descriptive view of the current practices of the executive pastor, completing the process was not the focus. Neither a competency model nor a complete definition was intended. This research continued the process of understanding and defining the role of the executive pastor. The results of this study have provided insight into which practices the executive pastors in the population utilize on the job. This study may also provide a process to study required leadership and management practices in other ministry positions.

Research Questions

The following questions were used to guide this study:

  1. What are the similarities and differences of the demographic characteristics such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, and church size within the population of the executive pastor?
  2. What is the rank order and relative agreement of the perceived competency importance reported by the executive pastor?
  3. How does the mean rank order results of the Boersma study of pastoral management competencies compare and contrast to the mean rank order of the executive pastors?
  4. What are the identifiable characteristics, such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size that are associated with the importance rating of the competencies?
  5. What is the relationship between the self-reported job satisfaction, performance, and preparation ratings of the executive pastors?

Research Implications

The purpose of this section was to provide conclusions from the analysis of the data and the possible implications of the research. The implications of the current findings are discussed in detail, particularly in regard to the relationship of the data collected and the precedent literature related to the executive pastor position when applicable. Applications of the research findings to theory and practice were proposed. This chapter concludes with suggestions for additional research and appropriate enhancements that could be made for the replication of this study.

Research Question 1 Analysis and Interpretation

Research Question 1 asked, “What are the similarities and differences of the demographic characteristics such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, and church size within the population of the executive pastor?” The purpose of this question was to determine the background of the executive pastor and provide insight into the type and size of organization in which he was employed. There were related assumptions in the beginning held by the researcher. One assumption was that many of the executive pastors of larger churches had extensive secular business experience before taking the position. There was also an assumption that most of the organizations that employed an executive pastor would exceed the criteria for the MMEPC. Both of these assumptions were shown to be incorrect, but to different degrees.

Background and Experience

The first conclusion is that the findings in this area may be summarized by creating a profile of the executive pastors who participated in this survey. Using the mean score and rounding to the next appropriate Likert scale, one can create a generalization of the executive pastor respondent. He is a Caucasian male between the ages of 45-54. This person also had between 21-25 years in the ministry. He had held his current position of executive pastor for 6-10 years. This executive pastor held an undergraduate and a graduate degree, most likely the M.R.E. degree. He had spent most of his vocational life in the ministry. He had spent only 2-5 years in a secular vocation.

The respondents from the MMEPC did not reflect the assumption that executive pastors were recruited from business to assist with the managerial leadership functions of the church. There were seven respondents that indicated over eleven years of previous experience. When compared to years in the ministry, one may conclude that secular experience less than eleven years would account for prior occupations to the respondents’ full-time ministry experience. There were three respondents that had over sixteen years of secular experience. Two of these individuals with over twenty years of secular experience indicated that they had held executive level positions in business. These individuals were employed in secular business vocations prior to taking on the role of an executive pastor. The majority of respondents indicated a background in full-time church work. One may conclude that the majority of executive pastors are experienced professional ministers, rather than transplants called into the ministry from business, industry, or education.

Church Size

The second conclusion is important to show that these executive pastors were involved in mega-churches. The staff size for each of these churches exceeded the range of 5-10 FTE ministerial staff. Fifty-four percent of the respondents rated their church staff size from 16 to over 30 FTE ministry positions. When the group reporting 11-15 FTE staff was included, this percent grew to 86%. Eighty-one percent of the churches reported a membership of over 5,000. An average weekly worship attendance of over 2,500 was reported by 51% of the churches. Eighty-four percent of these churches had an average Sunday school attendance of over 1,500.

These were large churches with large professional pastoral staffs. The need for executive pastors in large churches was cited in the precedent literature. Chip MacGregor in his research on the executive pastor provided support for the rise of this position in large churches when he stated, “With the advent of large multi-staff churches in the 1980s, came the need for a full-time pastoral staff member charged with coordinating the complex administrative needs of local congregations.” Further research beyond the scope of this study may provide evidence that executive pastors tend to exist mainly in larger churches.

Leadership Network’s research also provided support that in large churches there was an increased need for hiring and utilizing an executive pastor. In the Leadership Network study, respondents from large churches stated that growth and pain were the driving issues within their churches. One result to overcoming the barrier to these issues was the creation of the position of the executive pastor. Bill Hybels echoed the need for an executive pastor in large churches when he stated, “The whole leadership, management, and administrative side of a growing church is a monster.” Hybels continued by affirming the value of the executive pastor within his organization.

But on the other side—the leadership managerial side, Greg has helped me and has taken a substantial portion of the leadership managerial weight and put it on his shoulders. It’s been able to free me up to do better teaching and strategic leadership here and there as opposed to bear the full brunt of the burden every day.

Dan Reiland supported this idea that growing churches were a factor in the development of the executive pastor position. In the 1980s, many churches began passing 1,000 in attendance. “The senior pastor could no longer keep up with all the demands of staff, infrastructure and ministry design; and at the same time—cast vision, remain fresh and creative in the pulpit, raise big dollars, etc. There became a need, in a manner of speaking, to divide his job in half.” This statement shows the direct relationship between growing churches and the need for someone on staff to assist with the managerial leadership activities.

Organizational Structure

The third conclusion is that the organizational structure findings agree with previous research on the executive pastors’ placement within the organization. One hundred percent of the executive pastors in the study reported directly to the senior pastor. While some churches shared the direct reporting relationship with the executive pastor for decision-making and communication purposes, each respondent indicated that all staff reported through the executive pastor to the senior pastor.

Most often, former Christian educators were found to be executive pastors. The historical perspective from the precedent literature also supported these findings. Dan Reiland points to the statements made by Win Arn concerning the need for a position like the executive pastor due to church growth. There was additional research stating that as churches began to grow, multi-staff positions and dual role positions were created. Within this growth, there was also a higher frequency of administrative tasks. Managerial positions in the church were usually held by ministers of education. This statement is supported in the findings that 81% of the executive pastor respondents were originally trained as Christian educators. When one compares the type of graduate degree held with the years of previous experience findings, one may conclude that the M.R.E. degree indicates a role as minister of education previous to holding the executive pastor position. Additional research may find that those who have managed large Christian education programs are particularly suited to act in a chief of staff role in larger churches.

Complex organizations and complex roles of leaders have created a need for someone to come alongside the pastor and assist with the management of the church. This does not mean that church is a corporation with the pastor as CEO and the executive pastor as COO. More accurately, it means that the church needs someone to assist a biblical leader to guide a congregation to join God onto His agenda. The executive pastor position has risen out of this need for a type of “Aaron” for Moses to hold up and support the leader in his role as pastor. One may conclude that this role is designed for the executive pastor to be an “Aaron” to the pastor (Exo. 18:1-24). Regardless, the descriptive findings point that executive pastors can be of great value to the senior pastor.

Research Question 2 Analysis and Interpretation

Research Question 2 asked, “What is the rank order and relative agreement of the perceived competency importance reported by the executive pastor?” The purpose of this question was to determine which leadership and management competencies were reported most and least important to the individual functioning in the role of an executive pastor responsible for leading and administering the local church.

Utilizing the factors and sub-factors provided a higher level categorization of the competencies. Factor 1 centers on pathfinding skills which related to the managerial planning function. The two subfactors for factor 1 are strategic pathfinding (1a) and operational pathfinding (1b). Factor 2 focuses on items pertaining to interpersonal skills. There are no sub-factors for this factor. Factor 3 is related to implementation and decision-making skills. The three subfactors center on staffing (3a), directing (3b), and controlling (3c). The mean rank order of the importance of each of the factors determined the order in which each of the factors are discussed.

Factor 2: Interpersonal Skills

The mean scores revealed that the executive pastors rated factor 2, interpersonal skills, as the highest factor at 4.90. Within the top 20% of factor 2 items, the standard deviation calculation revealed relative agreement as each item rated less than 0.76. This factor relates to the interpersonal relationships with the staff team in order to accomplish the church’s goals. The competencies in the area focused on morale building, creating harmony, resolving differences, and involving the team in decision-making. The high scores for this factor may indicate that the executive pastor is in the position of being the organizational motivator and coach who assists people to be engaged and involved in the overall function of the church.

Reiland posits that the executive pastor is the chief of staff rather than the COO. Having a high regard for interpersonal skills as the overall managerial leader for the organization is consistent with Reiland’s assertion. Overall, the executive pastor rated the skills of building the team, communicating and keeping everyone aware of how they fit into the organization, and how they are performing as considerably high within this factor. Executive pastors believed interpersonal skills to be considerably important and overall the most important competencies for their position.

Factor 3: Implementation and Decision-Making Skills

The next closest ranking to interpersonal skills was factor 3, implementation and decision-making skills, which received a mean score of 4.83. The relative agreement (SD) was less than 1.00 for all but one item. This factor centers on the staffing, directing, and controlling functions of managerial leadership. The items related to decision-making and using time effectively were rated overall as numbers two and three respectively. Since the factor score is only .07 from the mean of factor 2, it can be determined that overall the executive pastors place a considerably high importance on these activities as well.

Staffing

When analyzing the existing literature, most of the activities cited in the executive pastor literature fell into these three categories. The staffing selection process was discussed frequently in the precedent literature. Of the three sub-factors in this factor, staffing (3a) received the lowest of the three mean scores at 4.73. This still remains a high rating for this competency area. MacGregor cites the development of a personnel master plan as integral with the executive pastor position. Hiring and firing staff was also cited as important by MacGregor, Reiland, and Hybels. This may have appeared lower in the ranking only in comparison to the other factors. The conclusion drawn from the survey results that staffing was important to the executive pastors is also consistent with precedent literature.

Directing

Sub-factor 3a, directing, received a mean rank score of 4.89 making it the highest rated sub-factor closely aligning in importance to factor 2. Executive pastors rated this factor overall as considerably important. The items in this sub-factor relate to delegating and coordinating activities along with managing change. This supports the idea that executive pastors understand the importance of not only keeping relationships healthy (factor 2), but also in designing, delegating, and coordinating work activities to achieve the goals of the church. Precedent literature also revealed that the directing activities were important to the executive pastors’ role. Travis cited the supervision of staff activities, and managing day-to-day operational and tactical decision-making as two functions of delegation. Coordinating activities were cited frequently within the executive pastor precedent literature adding support to the respondents’ rating of this factor.

Controlling

Sub-factor 3c, controlling, received a mean rank score of 4.85. Executive pastors rated this factor overall as very important. This sub-factor relates to budget allocation and performance measurement. The overall mean score was only a .05 difference from the highest rank factor 2, interpersonal skills. This sub-factor was determined by the executive pastors to be very important to the position. Precedent literature supports this as an important part of the executive pastors’ job. Reiland discusses hard data or measurement systems as a critical part of this role. Freeman cited two activities related to developing performance standards, developing quantifiable measures, and articulating clear expectations as part of the executive pastor role. Developing performance standards and the implementation of performance evaluations cited by Reiland and Frieze are also consistent with this sub-factor. Providing feedback to staff on job performance was cited as important by Travis. Executive pastors in this study rated these activities as very important. The findings and conclusions here are consistent with the precedent literature for this area related to the management function of controlling.

Factor 1: Pathfinding Skills

The factor related to pathfinding skills was rated the lowest of the three factors with a mean score of 4.40. Executive pastors rated this factor overall as very important. While this is still a high ranking, there are reasons why this competency area may have the lowest ranking among executive pastors. Pathfinding, both strategic pathfinding and operational pathfinding, related to administrative and planning functions. While some of these activities were related to the strategic planning process, many of these activities related to the administrative planning activities within the church. It has been cited in the precedent literature that the role of the business administrator handles many of these tactical administrative duties.

There is a clear distinction between the administrator and the executive pastor functions. Webber defined the role of the business administrator as the one who manages the finances, data processing, personnel, physical plant, strategic planning, and church protocol. The NACBA states that the administrator role is accounting, budgeting, governmental reporting, planning, and data processing. The understanding by the executive pastors of the differences in roles between these two jobs may account for a lower score in this area. Another reason for this lower score may be that strategic planning is a less utilized activity in churches than interpersonal skills or delegating and coordinating.

Research Question 3 Analysis and Interpretation

Research Question 3 asks, “How does the mean rank order results of the Boersma study of pastoral management competencies compare and contrast to the mean rank order of the executive pastors?” The purpose of this research question was to determine any similarities between the two studies. The mean score rankings were used to determine similarities between the items, factors, and sub-factor in the two studies.

Considerations When Comparing the Boersma Study to the Executive Pastor Study

There were considerations related to any comparison of the two studies. The first was that the Boersma study was conducted using three different groups; pastors, theology faculty members, and lay leaders. The responses were analyzed to develop the survey instrument. The Boersma study ultimately provided a mean score ranking of the fifty competency statements. This ranking was developed by utilizing the mean scores of all respondents to create the final competency ranking. The second consideration was the time factor between the first and second studies. The Boersma study was completed in 1988, which was sixteen years prior to the current study. Another consideration was that the respondents were asked to rate these competencies in terms of pastors. This current study sought responses from executive pastors about themselves—who have a different overall job description. Finally, there was also an absence of raw data from the Boersma study. Only the mean scores were available. These are preliminary considerations related to comparing the two studies. These are not considerations related to the validity of the Boersma study or the appropriateness of using the Boersma study in this context.

This research question was answered in light of these known issues. The mean scores of the executive pastor study were compared to the mean scores of the Boersma study for each item. The factors’ mean scores were also compared. The results of this comparison revealed similarities in the management and leadership competencies determined important by both pastors and executive pastors.

Competencies

All of the items that were most consistently similar in the two studies were related to either interpersonal skills or implementation and decision-making skills. The number one item in both studies was the competency related to building and maintaining morale. One may conclude that regardless of the position, pastor or executive pastor, the need to maintain organizational esprit de corps is of the utmost importance. Without a positive organizational culture, any organization is in trouble of not achieving its goals.

Precedent literature supports this idea. Kouzes and Posner posit a concept entitled “Enabling Others to Act.” The idea here is of empowering the team to accomplish their stated goals. Encouragement is also critical in this area. Additionally, Barna stated that pastors of turn-around churches and pastors of healthy churches are always encouragers. The respondents in both studies appear to take this concept seriously.

Within the top ten (20%) items of both studies, there was agreement on seven competency items. Five of these items were related to interpersonal skills and two were centered on directing competencies. The five interpersonal items were:

  1. Item 45: Build and maintain staff morale (esprit de corps).
  2. Item 31: Work to create harmony of all activities to facilitate achieving goals and objectives.
  3. Item 43: Understand and apply skills of conflict management to resolve differences and encourage independent thought.
  4. Item 44: Create an environment where independent thought is encouraged and occasional failure accepted.
  5. Item 42: Develop and practice groups leadership skills with boards, committees, and other groups within the church.

Seeing this many items clustered at the top of both studies indicated that both pastors and executive pastors value organizations that create harmony in the work place. This may be accomplished through excellence in conflict management. These leaders may also encourage independent thinking within the workers. Good leadership is also a competency ranked high by both groups of respondents. Excellent leadership skills with the team and with accountability groups such as boards and committees were valued. Respondents from both studies showed that they hold interpersonal skills as very important competencies for leadership.

The competencies related to directing that were most agreed upon were:

  1. Item 7: Make decisions and give clear, concise direction to the work of paid/volunteer staff.
  2. Item 17: Plan and use time effectively in setting priorities for workload.

Both pastors and executive pastors valued the effective use of time and setting priorities. Time management and priority setting are critical abilities for anyone who is busy. Executive pastors and pastors also agreed that clear direction to staff and to volunteers was important. The workload of pastors and staff is very high. The ability to organize and prioritize work is important. Equally important to both pastors and executive pastors is the ability to delegate appropriately. Both of the respondents indicated that without these skills, both pastors and executive pastors were in danger of leadership and management failure.

Pastors and executive pastors agreed that interpersonal competencies overall were both very important to their jobs. They also agreed that competencies related to the implementation and decision-making skills of staffing, directing, and controlling were critical to effectiveness. The conclusion here is that both pastors and executive pastors in these two studies understood the importance of keeping people motivated and engaged. They also believed that it was the leaders’ role to assist and support people in the accomplishment of their job whether volunteer or paid. Allowing the volunteers or staff to explore new ways of working, to have the ability to manage the work load, and delegating the work are of the highest importance to both executive pastors and pastors. The differences between the two studies was most pronounced when analyzing the factors and sub-factors.

Factors and Sub-Factors

The Boersma study provided a cumulative mean rank order of the factors by placing implementation and decision-making skills (factor 3) as first, interpersonal skills (factor 2) as second, and pathfinding skills (factor 1) as last. This leads one to conclude that the pastors’ study revealed a more managerial approach to church leadership. Staffing, directing, and controlling competency sub-factors were predominant in the Boersma study. This may be more related to how the faculty, lay leaders ,and pastors viewed management and leadership in general in the late 1980s. This may also point to a more administrative view of the pastors’ overall functions. Respondents in both studies rated interpersonal skills as next highest showing that these competencies were important to any position in the church.

Both studies’ respondents ranked the pathfinding skills third. This may reveal more about the strategy function being applied less within church organizations. The strategic planning trend has grown in recent years. This may be a factor in the Boersma rankings. The executive pastors may have ranked this lower as strategy may be thought of as more of a function of the pastor’s role. This particular factor requires additional review and study of the pastors’ role in the development of the vision. The executive pastors’ role is to assist and to provide input to the vision. Reiland supported this direction in the precedent literature by stating, “The senior pastor is and should be the primary visionary, dreamer, [and] vision caster, but the executive pastor must have the input and freedom to shape the vision with the senior pastor before it goes public.” The senior pastor is the primary vision caster for a local church.

Research Question 4 Analysis and Interpretation

Research Question 4 asks, “What are the identifiable characteristics, such as age, race, gender, professional training, years in ministry, professional background, or church size that are associated with the importance rating of the competencies?” The purpose of this question was to determine if there were certain identifiable variables that could be associated with the executive pastors’ responses to the competency questions. There were some correlations that were identified. The issue with the results of the analysis for this questions is that many of the correlations were drawn with very small numbers from the population. The associated correlations in many cases may not prove to be distinctive enough for a positive conclusion. This statistical exercise may provide the background structure or framework for future studies with a larger population or sample of executive pastors.

The correlations for specific competencies were provided in Appendix 5. There were five instances where relationships between the demographic variables and the competency importance ratings were identified. The 25-34 age group was more likely than other age groups to be involved in the planning and initiation of change within the organization while attempting to minimize alienating the congregation. The age group of 55 and over reported a score of higher importance than other age groups in developing a statement of values.

Executive pastors with only an undergraduate degree rated sub-factor 1b items (operational pathfinding), that centered on information systems, data collection, and reporting and using MBO as part of the management control process, as higher than those with a graduate degree. This item contains four operational pathfinding competencies. This led the researcher to the conclusion that the executive pastors with an advanced education tended to view management control and data reporting systems as less important.

Executive pastors without prior secular experience rated the two competencies centered on understanding and delegating power and authority as significantly higher than those with previous secular experience. Executive pastors in churches with over 10,000 members rated the competency of developing a reporting system to monitor the implementation of the plan as significantly higher than all other of the membership categories. The conclusion drawn from this data is that the larger the church, the more important it is to the executive pastor that a formal information reporting system must be in place to monitor progress of organizational goals and plans.

When the competencies were synthesized into the related factors and sub-factors, additional conclusions may be drawn from the data. Operational pathfinding (1b) or tactical management competencies were rated higher by those with undergraduate degrees only. One may conclude that as executive pastors gain more education, in this case the M.R.E. or M.Div. degrees, the less tactical he becomes in his position. Additionally those with the M.Div. degree tended to rate the 1b competencies of operational pathfinding lower than those without these degrees. This may lead one to believe that those with the M.Div. degree see their role as less tactical than those who have other graduate degrees or no graduate degree at all. These were the only substantive correlations with categories large enough for this researcher to draw substantive conclusions.

Research Question 5 Analysis and Interpretation

Research Question 5 asks, “What is the relationship between the self-reported job satisfaction, performance, and preparation ratings of the executive pastor?” The purpose of this question was to determine how satisfied the executive pastor believes he was in the executive pastor role. Information was also collected on how the executive pastors believed they were performing in their current position and how prepared they believed they were upon taking on the role of an executive pastor.

The cumulative mean rank order yielded satisfaction to be ranked as highest with a score of 5.16. This mean score placed satisfaction in the very high category overall. This indicated that the statement of satisfaction by the executive pastor would be: “You consider your satisfaction to be well above your expectations in your experience as an executive pastor.” Performance rated second with a mean rank order of 4.89. The lowest mean rank order was preparation with a mean rank order of 4.78. These mean scores placed performance and preparation in the high category overall. These two items indicated that the overall statement of performance and preparation by the executive pastor would be: “You consider your performance and preparation to be somewhat acceptable in your experience as an executive pastor within your church.”

Executive pastors in this study were very satisfied with their role. They also believed that their performance was high or acceptable as an executive pastor. Within the preparation category the scores were more dispersed. The executive pastors believed that they were prepared for the position as most of them rated this category as very high or extremely high. Preparation and performance showed a moderate correlation. The higher the executive pastor reported the preparation score, the higher the executive pastor rated his performance. This may lead one to conclude that when an executive pastor believed he was prepared for the position, he rated his job performance higher than those who felt less prepared.

Summary of Research Implications

In closing this section, summary statements can be made regarding the conclusions drawn from the data. The executive pastor in this study is a Caucasian male between the ages of 45-54. This person also had between 21-25 years in the ministry. He had held his current position of executive pastor for 6-10 years. This executive pastor was a college graduate with an undergraduate and a graduate degree, most likely the M.R.E. degree. He had spent most of his vocational life in the ministry, spent only 2-5 years in a previous secular vocation, and led and managed a large church staff of 15-20 full-time ministers. The entire staff reports to the executive pastor and the executive pastor reports directly to the senior pastor. The church where he is employed had 7,000 members, 3,000 in worship, and 2,500 in Sunday school.

These executive pastors believed that competencies related to interpersonal skills were the most important. Skills related to implementation and decision-making were closely related in importance. The strategic and tactical managerial functions of pathfinding were rated important to this function, but not as important as the other competencies. All the managerial and leadership competencies were believed to be important to the executive pastor. He was satisfied in his position. The executive pastor believed his performance was very good. He also believed he was prepared to take on this role of an executive pastor.

Research Applications

There are certain subjective proposed outcomes that have been developed from the results of this study. These applications are directed toward educational institutions that train executive pastors or other church leaders in the managerial and leadership competencies needed for local church administration. These proposals are also directed at churches who may be employing an executive pastor. Finally, these proposed applications may relate to someone who is an executive pastor or a person thinking about accepting the challenge of becoming an executive pastor.

Educational Institutions

For seminaries or other educational institutions focused on training leaders for the cause of Christ, the results of this study have direct application. Future job descriptions and job specifications can be developed from the competency items since all competencies were determined to be important overall by the executive pastors studied. From this, a competency model could be developed using this information as a guide. Interpersonal skills was rated very high and therefore should continue to be part of the leadership curriculum. If training in leadership and management have taken a back seat in the curriculum, consideration should be given to reintroducing these concepts within educational and professional training programs.

Another concept for training institutions to consider is that management must not be viewed as second best. Much of recent leadership literature discusses the difference between the two disciplines. While this is true, in practice leadership and management cannot be separated. Another problem that has arisen is that management skills are sometimes viewed as somehow less important than leadership. Statements like, “Leadership does the right things, while management does them right,” could lead one to believe that management is somehow a lesser discipline for those who cannot lead. Managerial leadership is a needed discipline, especially within the church. Management and leadership skills for the executive pastor and any minister are necessary for the health of a church. We must not drift from teaching management tactics along with leadership.

Taking this into consideration, a major application of this entire study is that management education for church leaders must be increased. It is understood that the traditional offerings for ministers must continue. The idea here is to expand beyond the educational administration curriculum for Christian educators. This may include dual degree programs consisting of a traditional M.R.E. or M.Div. degree and a M.A. in leadership or even a M.B.A. in church leadership. Seminaries may explore partnerships with other institutions to expedite implementation. No matter what the final application, management and leadership are critical areas and someone on church staffs, especially in large churches, must be trained and devoted to these disciplines.

Another area for seminaries and training institutions to consider is the age and experience of the executive pastor. The executive pastor in this study was a more experienced staff member. Seminaries could create in-service programs to assist the development of future executive pastors. This could be done through executive education programing for example, meeting the students in the workplace through modular programming and online options. Training executive pastors will probably not be the focus of traditional on-campus students in their early twenties as success in this position will also require years of management and leadership experience. Along with degree programs, advanced certificate programs for executive pastors may be developed and offered. Other informal professional educational opportunities may be created. Using the job specifications, organizations like the MMEPC may want to undertake the development of continuing education offerings to enhance the knowledge and skill base of those currently holding the executive pastor position.

Churches

Churches may also use the findings of this study as applicable to their situation. Churches can use the findings of this study and the precedent literature to also develop job descriptions and job specifications. This will assist the pastor and the boards to understand what this position consists of and how it will operate. From these descriptions, performance evaluations and training plans can be developed and implemented. Churches employing executive pastors or even thinking about doing so, must communicate the role of the executive pastor to the congregation so they will also understand the position requirements and qualifications. Churches need to have an understanding of the executive pastor position to determine if this role is needed within a particular church. The age factor must be considered when a church seeks someone to fill the position. Executive pastors in this study tended to be experienced professional ministers. This should influence hiring decisions. Church size may be a factor in determining if an executive pastor position is needed.

There are also other factors to be considered. Based on the job descriptions and the understanding of the competencies and other results of this study, churches need to understand the role of management and leadership within their staff and lay leaders. Churches could review the information related to the function of the executive pastor and determine who in their organizations have the giftedness to fulfill some or all of the management functions described in the study. If no one or group of people is available within the church to handle this role, then moving outside the organization may be necessary. This study can assist in the search process for an executive pastor through the precedent literature and the survey results.

Executive Pastors

Executive pastors or those thinking about taking on the role of an executive may also find this study useful. For anyone considering a career as an executive pastor, age and experience mentioned previously should be taken into account. For executive pastors, this information can be a guide or model to provide self-evaluation in the role of an executive pastor. This can also be a guide for someone looking into becoming an executive pastor. First, one must see if the position fits God’s calling and one’s gifts. The other way this study can be a guide is to assist in determining gaps in knowledge and skills. This will provide a pathway for future training. Hopefully, using a training plan will increase the score on the preparation ratings in the future.

Further Research

There are additional research designs that could be explored as a result of this study. There are also related modifications that could be made to enhance the replication of this current design. Additional design enhancements of this study will improve similar studies in the future or a replication of this study. First, use a larger sample. This study was designed as a foundational study of the executive pastor. Making initial descriptive statements about this new phenomenon was the focus. By limiting the scope, some of the analyses were limited. Having a larger population or sample will easily remedy any of the limitations of this current study. Another way to improve this study is to expand the group to include executive pastors outside of large churches and denominational walls. Executive pastors are being employed in many denominations and churches of various sizes. There is no need to compare the results of the Boersma study to future studies. The comparison of this study, since it was developed for executive pastors, will be more appropriate.

This research project was intended as a foundational study seeking to begin the process of studying the executive pastor phenomenon. There are many possibilities for those who want to expand or replicate this study.

  1. Studies using techniques similar to those in this study should be carried out with additional and larger populations to confirm or challenge the findings of this study across a broader population of churches including international situations.
  2. Continuing this study to identify other competency oriented criteria to explore the effectiveness of executive pastors. This may include the creation of a competency model.
  3. A similar study to this one employing a 360 degree model may also expand the competency related data collected from and regrading executive pastors.
  4. Further study may go beyond this foundational study to explore the behaviors of executive pastors in growing churches as opposed to plateaued or declining churches.
  5. An additional opportunity may be to explore the job satisfaction of pastors in churches employing executive pastors. As this position continues to increase, there may be conflicts within leadership groups that may be studied.
  6. Additional studies may include temperament or leadership styles of executive pastors in various settings.
  7. Additional studies may be conducted to explore strategic planning within churches. This may or may not be related to the executive pastors position.
  8. Another opportunity would be to determine the differences between seminary faculty perceptions of the management and leadership competencies needed by executive pastors or other staff positions and the positions themselves. This may bring to light ways to bridge the gaps between academics and practice.
  9. A study may be made employing 360 degree data gathering additional information on the executive pastors’ job performance. This would explore how well the executive pastor is executing the competencies determining important in other studies.
  10. Additional studies using the present competency data should be undertaken utilizing other than attitudinal and perception measurement techniques. Such studies would confirm or modify the results of this study.

Summary of Conclusions

Undertaking this study revealed much to the researcher related to the executive pastor position. The most significant was that executive pastors tend to be experienced professional ministers. The conclusion here is that these men have probably worked through the issue of being the second in command. They have determined that helping others achieve their potential in ministry is what they believe to be their purpose. Another conclusion is that executive pastors are the glue within the organization. These special individuals assist with the vision creation and coaching of others in the implementation process. They assist the pastor to refine and achieve his goals for their particular local church. Another important realization is that these men are career minsters. This is not to say that professional managers from secular business and industry would not make excellent executive pastors. It is to say that someone in the role of the executive pastor must understand the vocation and the position of the ministers that are depending on him to help them align and achieve their ministry goals.

One executive pastor told the researcher that his role is similar than air traffic controller. His job is not to determine beforehand where the airplanes are going, but to assist them in arriving at their final destination without bumping into all the other airplanes in the sky. His ultimate purpose is to prevent incidents and to bring all the planes safely in for a landing at the end of the day. Whether an executive pastor is a ministry-traffic controller, coach, or chief of staff, we have discovered that this position is important in many situations for achieving the purposes of the local church.

Appendix

(All items of the Appendix can be viewed in the original PDF which is provided below this article.)

Included in the Appendix are:

  1. The Pastoral Management Competencies Questionnaire
  2. Reliability of the Boersma Questionnaire
  3. Competency Clustering
  4. Pastoral Competencies by Mean Rank Order
  5. Correlation Results of Demographic Variable and Competency Items

Reference List

(Reference List can be viewed in the original PDF–the link is provided below)

 

View charts, footnotes, Appendices and the Reference List in the original PDF: Competencies Needed

By | 2016-10-12T11:01:02+00:00 December 6th, 2012|Church vs. Business|

About the Author: