As the Executive Pastor of our church, (a non-denominational, evangelical, contemporary-styled church) I was the first person our Lead Pastor came to with his idea of adding two other staff members that would serve at the same level that I do. He went on to describe how they would be his additional direct reports.
I must confess that the first thing that went through my mind was, “How could he? Doesn’t he realize what this means to me, my staff, and to him? How would this new arrangement affect my staff team’s ability to maintain the clear lines of communication that we have worked so hard to establish? How will these additions change the way we do business? Above all else, why?”
Why add additional staff members at the Executive Pastor Level?
As this new organizational change began to unfold, several factors emerged that led to this development. First, our Lead Pastor’s vision has always been to be the kind of church that has regional impact and experiences exponential growth. Our church is located in a small city (approximately 40,000 in town population, 90,000 in the county). However it is the largest city in the area and provides regional services for approximately a 100-mile radius.
Up to this point, the way we were going to accomplish our mission was to build a destination campus, drawing people “in” to the life of the church that would facilitate the normal church-type ministries. However, with the rising costs of building and the advent and success of video venue campuses, our method of reaching our mission has changed. Now the way we are going to accomplish our mission is with what we call a “going” strategy—instead of a “you all come” approach. Basically the “going” strategy means sending our people back into their neighborhoods in community groups (mid-week small groups) to reach their neighbors and by developing video venue campuses around our regional area.
Second, with the new strategy defined, our Lead Pastor’s training in managerial leadership guides his philosophy of organizational structure. The guiding principle is to institute a five level organization with enough level four leaders to oversee full divisional work. In our church, those levels, starting at the top, are: number five—the Lead Pastor, fourth—the Executive Pastor, third—department leaders, second—ministry area leaders or high capacity volunteers, and lastly—hourly employees and your typical volunteer.
Continuing this thought, then, the organization increases in its effectiveness when all five levels are in place and the number of level four leaders is increased sufficiently. This provides the leadership horsepower necessary to mobilize major divisions of work, thereby increasing the organization’s ability to be more effective. This level of executive leadership in our situation is at the Executive Pastor level. Therefore, adding two other executive level staff people to our organization provides the executive leadership that can increase the overall span of operation and develop new ministry initiatives that can reach more people. Also, we will do a better job of ministering to the existing 1,300 member congregation—quicker and better then a one person executive leader can.
With that being said, my duties as Executive Pastor haven’t changed from the typical Executive Pastor’s role; I am still in charge of the day-to-day operation of our church. All core ministries fall under my oversight, as does the business and budgeting operations. My team and I will provide the “back office” support and training for the new video venue ministries during their start-up phase.
What has changed is my role as the key leader over all church areas. For instance, one new executive leader (Community Life Pastor) is in charge of developing a new community groups system and a new church-wide care system. He will report to our Lead Pastor on these issues, not to me. I won’t have any responsibility for his area. The other executive leader (Ministry Development Pastor) is in charge of developing new video venue campuses all around our region; he is also over the creative arts ministry. He, too, will report to our Lead Pastor on these issues, not to me. I won’t have any responsibilities for his area. Again, the thought is that with this kind of leadership horsepower in place, the results ought to be dramatic. That’s the plan, at least.
The third reason for this change is that our Lead Pastor is a gifted leader and extremely capable of handling the complexities of a large organization. Those complexities include solving multiply complex problems, organizing several divisions at once, giving strategic oversight to high level managers/leaders, and providing the context of work to be done that is big enough for executives to work well in. Having only one direct report, me the Executive Pastor, was in his mind bottlenecking the kind of organizational development that he believes we need to grow exponentially, not just incrementally, and accomplish his overall vision of being a regionally dynamic church.
And lastly, we are organized around our giftedness. We know well the new executive leaders. Our Lead Pastor knows well each of our strengths and gifts. So what he has done in bringing on these new executive leaders is to organize our structure around our gifts. I, as the Executive Pastor, have strong personnel management and organizational skills.
One of our new executive leaders (Ministry Development Pastor) is gifted around communication, developing new ministry initiatives and creativity. He is in charge of the video venue development and the creative arts ministry. The other executive leader (Community Life Pastor) is highly relational and loves the one-on-one development of people. He is in charge of developing our community groups and the care ministry.
It’s too early to tell whether or not this new organizational strategy will work. Even though our pastor is a gifted leader and communicator, I wonder, over the long haul, if having more then one direct report will stifle the exercising of his main gift mix? I wonder if there will be constant confusion in the ranks as to who is supposed to be doing what and for whom? I’m sure that these and other issues will surface as we go through the normal group development dynamics of storming, forming, norming, and performing stages of group change. We’ll see. Only time will tell.