In the American religious landscape, there is no clear path for an individual to become an Executive Pastor. Whether a man or woman comes from the executive or church world, there are a variety of paths to the role of XP. Some churches have hired or promoted individuals to become Executive Pastors who have experience in only one or two areas of ministry. Their native talent, or combination of talent, experience and training have qualified them for the position. There is some on-the-job-training with this process, but the individual already has learned the inherent skills required for church ministry. This case study on Stacey Campbell illustrates how one person followed this route to becoming an Executive Pastor.
What are some of the “pastoral” components in the XP role? Stacey gives some insight from a recent ministry experience:
It’s never a good sign when one of your elders calls on a Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. This was no exception.
“Are you sitting down?” he asked over the phone. “We’ve got a situation.”
“What is it?” I asked, my mouth suddenly dry.
“I just received a call from someone in our church who says that they were coerced into having a sexual encounter with someone else in a restroom at our church during one of the worship gatherings this morning.”
As my brain played catch-up to this revelation, I couldn’t help but notice a new question that had slammed into my head: Exactly why did I want to be an Executive Pastor?
This case study will help one understand how a person moves from Pastor to Executive Pastor. What were the elements and experiences that brought Stacey Campbell to this phone call?
Education in the Classroom and Church
Stacey entered Colorado Christian University to pursue a career in Christian Counseling. Having worked both in front of and behind the cameras in television commercials for a period of time, he desired to be on the “people side, the ministry piece” of life. Studying under Larry Crabb, Stacey received a Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling.
While studying for his Masters degree, Stacey did not continue to feel the pull into full time Christian counseling. Joining a small group of friends, they began to plant a church. Stacey worked on the artistic and creative aspects of the emerging church. After four years, Stacey felt it was time to move on from the church plant. He took a position with a church in Florida for the next four years. The change in church environments could not have been more pronounced: from a small, new church, clinging to its existence month-by-month to a very wealthy and established church, in the midst of an identity crisis. Moving from a very fluid and creative environment to a more “machine-like” environment educated Stacey in the subtleties of church politics. Naiveté had to quickly become a thing of the past. In the interview, Stacey mentioned his report from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. He is an ENFJ (Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) type. Both once-over paragraphs and details of this type seems to fit Stacey.
As a Pastor of Small Groups and Discipleship in Florida, Stacey was introduced to the role of the Executive Pastor. “I saw some guys that I did not want to be like. I saw XPs who were as clear as scientists, rigid, set managers. They were strictly pragmatic, bottom line and stifling people and ministry. They were high control and by the book, not releasing people into ministry. The model was a managerial model, with “I told you what to do, now do it. Everything had to funnel through the XP. I never wanted to be an XP if they were the role models for XPs.”
Stacey describes the Florida ministry as a significant pilgrimage in his life. “It was a rough go for me. The church wasn’t a great fit with my style, yet I knew I was supposed to stay in ministry. I knew I was supposed to stay in Florida until God said it was time to leave.” Like many pastors, Stacey was learning that though a particular church may be a challenging place to work, that there are life lessons to be learned at that place. In four years, Stacey was learning those life lessons.
In his four years in Florida, Stacey identified three values that would become central for his life. Stacey summarizes the ministry style that he learned was “mine, me, who Stacey Campbell was and is and will be.” The first thing that he identified as a core value was, “I don’t believe in cookie cutter ministry, those things or programs where everything is the same.” Stacey came to realize that he believed in diversity, of people using their gifts and abilities in different ways to serve Christ in the church. “The cookie cutter mentality for me is not pastoral.” Stacey discovered that his pastoral and counseling gifts really were a part of his core identity in ministry. He wanted to shepherd people and allow them to grow.
The second core value that Stacey discovered, or reaffirmed, while in Florida was a strong theological view of the world. He saw the world as a pastor sees the world. The grid was a biblical worldview of Christ working through His church to reach the world. Christ works both through the church collective and distributive, that is when it gathers and when the people of the church go out to their neighborhoods. “I am not here to get the people of the church to rally around my ideas and desires; instead, I’m here to help facilitate whatever God has put on the hearts of His people so that those ideas and desires are released into the world.”
The third core value that Stacey identified is that he wanted to blend the Poet and Artist in his life. The Poet is one who comprehends and explains life through metaphor, using the rich fabric of symbolic language to express spiritual reality. The Artist takes those symbols and gives them life in the three dimensional world. Stacey found he did not want to be a person who “sees people as they appear to be, but sees people as they could be or should be, or sees people as God sees them.” The Poet and Artist see beyond the apparent present reality to a spiritual dimension of possibility and growth. If this sounds a little mystical, then the reader is reading this correctly. There is a degree of mysticism, as this word can be defined as: “(1) Immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality of God, (2) a belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience, and (3) vague, groundless speculation. Of course, some people both inside and outside the church see anything mystical as the third definition—vague, groundless speculation. The Poet and Artist though, sees things not as they are, but as God desires them to be.
Of course, the act of writing about a Poet/Artist is a challenge. By definition, the Poet/Artist is harder to quantify in the printed word. When change and diversity are key concepts, it is difficult to explain one’s core values. Stacey himself feels this tension, “even with my gifts in writing, it is a challenge to describe ‘me’ and my role in the church.” This is in keeping with Stacey’s Myers-Briggs Profile as an ENFJ.
Thus, through a difficult four years in Florida, Stacey identified three core values: Anticookie cutter, Pastor/Theologian, and Poet/Artists. Stacey’s education can be broken into two parts—the formal one that produced a degree and the on-the-job-training that produced core values. Stacey’s Masters degree took an accelerated twelve months and his “ministry level masters degree” took several years.
About the City of Greeley
Christ Community Church of Greeley, Colorado is an Evangelical Free Church, founded in 1899. The city is named after Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune. A settlement called Union Colony was founded in 1870 by Nathan Meeker, agricultural editor of the New York Tribune. Since the church dates from the early days of the city, it would do well to understand the city:
The fledgling town of 1,200 was founded in 1870 by members of a joint stock colonization company called the Union Colony of Colorado, organized by Nathan Meeker, agricultural editor of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. Meeker visited Colorado Territory in October, 1869, and his observations on the people and places in the West were published in the Tribune. Meeker was smitten with the Rocky Mountain scenery, the energy and friendliness of its citizens, and the opportunity to inexpensively purchase or homestead fertile tracts of land in a climate renowned for its pure air, moderate temperatures and “perpetual” sunshine. His dream of starting a utopian community based on temperance, religion, education, agriculture, irrigation, cooperation, and family values was rekindled. He penned an appealing article, “A Western Colony” for the Tribune’s December 14, 1869 edition, in which he encouraged literate and temperance individuals with high moral standards and money to join him in a colony venture in Colorado Territory.
More than 3,000 responded to his persuasive prose. Over 700 of the best applicants were chosen as members, and a membership fee of $155 was collected from everyone whose name appeared on the list of selected colonists. This money was used to purchase land west of the confluence of the South Platte and Cache la Poudre Rivers. Some colonists were investors only; ninety had “second thoughts” and requested the colony “refund” their membership fees, but the majority settled on a new life in Greeley, C.T. They were a homogenous lot: white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, thrifty, conservative, hard-working, Union veterans, predominantly Republican, and committed to Nathan Meeker’s vision. They built two ditches and an expensive fence around the Colony to keep the open range cattle from destroying newly planted gardens and crops. Residences, businesses, schools, churches, hotels, buffalo-tanning factories, flour mills, produce warehouses and opera houses sprang up between 1870 and 1885. The colonists negotiated with the railroad for equitable rates to ship their famous Greeley spuds to market, “electrified” the downtown in 1886, installed telephones in 1893, and expanded the network of irrigation ditches and reservoirs for greater crop production and diversity. They survived the locust plaques and blizzards of the 1870s, the boom in businesses and more blizzards of the 1880’s and the depression of the 1890s.
In 2005, the city population was over 100,000. According to the latest statistics, Greeley and its surrounding area is the fastest growing county in the United States.
History and Doctrine
This case study examines the role of “Pastor to Executive Pastor.” For this reason, it would do well to understand the pastoral flavor, the theological views and practices of the church. Currently, Christ Community Church of Greeley has a 900-seat worship center with over 1,500 in worship each week. For seven years, the church had a Thursday night worship service, as well as two Sunday morning worship services. At the beginning of 2005, the church moved the Thursday night service to Saturday night.
While those statistics are current for 2006, the church has a long and varied history. It would be best for the church to speak for itself about its history:
During the late 1800’s, a number of Scandinavian families moved to northern Colorado by horse and wagon with dreams of making a better life. Many were Christians who desired Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. Since these mostly Swedish families were spread out across the Greeley and Eaton area, the best way for them to get together was in each other’s homes. So they began various Bible study groups in several areas. In 1899, a Sunday school was started in Greeley with preaching services on Sunday afternoons and evenings, all in Swedish.
As these services continued and attendance steadily increased, a more suitable building was needed. In the year 1900, a small brick church was built on 11th St. near 10th Ave. On December 28, 1901, the eighteen members became known as The Swedish Free Mission Church of Greeley, Colorado. Soon after realizing they needed a full-time pastor, the church hired Rev. A. A. Anderson to serve in that capacity.
Since the church’s beginning, the Swedish language was used for all services and record keeping until the late 1920’s, when it finally became necessary to switch to English. The vote was much debated but it was agreed that since the young people didn’t know Swedish, the English language should be used. The name of the church was changed to Evangelical Free Church in May of 1936.
During the 1930’s and 40’s the church continued to grow and the need for a larger building was once again a necessity. In 1944, property was purchased at 13th Ave. and 15th St. with the congregation and church leaders unsure of when the building process could begin. Two years later, construction began on our current facility. Devoted members and friends of the congregation worked for three years to complete the construction by spring of 1949.
In the 1950’s, the church heavily influenced the students at UNC (University of Northern Colorado, ed.) by teaching on the relationship between athletics and Christianity. Mission conferences were especially important as they educated the congregation and students from Cameron Elementary about mission work that was happening around the world. During the 1970’s, the choir performed many productions and even recorded two albums. The next decade brought even more advances: a children’s program that helped kids learn the Bible called Awana; free oil changes for single women; and a clothing bank for those in need.
The Nineties brought a new passion and spirit of renewal to this church. Within a few years, a new purpose statement was adopted and in 1994, the name of the church was changed to Christ Community Church. To facilitate the numerical growth, a second Sunday morning service was added in 1995, and two years later, a third serve began on Thursday night.
The growth continued and it soon became evident that our current facility would not be large enough. After much prayer and discussion concerning various options, the elders sense the Lord’s clear leading that Christ Community Church should stay at the corner of 13th Ave. and 15th St. and expand from there. So in the fall of 1997, we began the process of purchasing the five homes north of our facility and in the fall of 2001, we began construction of an adjacent facility which includes a 900-seat worship center, a large lobby and a larger area for our Tiny Tots ministry. The new facility was open February 23, 2003.
Reaching out to the community has always been a high priority over the hundred years of our church’s ministry in Greeley. One of the ways that we are continuing this priority is through Project Serve events. These free events are practical ways of saying God loves you—no strings attached. Every Fourth of July, teams of people give away to parade attenders free orange juice along with a card of information about Christ Community. In December, over 400 church volunteers wrap several thousand Christmas gifts for free at the Greeley Mall. We also sponsor a free single mom’s oil change every few months. Kid’s Hope is a ministry that pairs up at-risk students from Cameron Elementary with loving tutors from Christ Community Church. Christ Community is also involved in Room-at-the-Inn, a network of churches that helps house homeless families.
We also minister to people around the world. We have adopted an unreachable people group in South Asia and have sent many prayer teams to pray on site. The church has also sponsored many short-term missionaries. Currently, nearly thirty missionary families in the U.S. and around the world receive prayer and financial support from this congregation. Over $100,000 per year is given to outreach, locally as well as globally.
There is no way of knowing exactly how many people have been touched as a result of the various ministries started by this church since 1901. But what we do know is God is faithful and He has carried us through times of growth, challenge, weakness, and uncertainty over the last one hundred years. He has seen the church survive through national crises and wars and has seen it grow from eighteen people to a thousand. He has seen a community of his people reaching out to serve one another. We give all glory to God, for the work he has carried out through the generations past and present. We thank him for our great heritage and praise him for the lives that He has changed through this church. As we look ahead to the next one hundred years, may we never lose sight of the one who has brought us together to do his work—to help as many people as possible experience the fullness of a relationship with Christ.
The church asserts that “the doctrinal position of The Evangelical Free Church of America is summarized in our twelve-article Statement of Faith.” Also, the church has developed ten core values which are a part of its spiritual DNA (see PDF below).
In contrast to the relational style of the ministry, the Constitution and Bylaws of the church are formal, lengthy and weigh-in at twenty-seven single-spaced pages. The document, updated in 2001, is different from some church constitutions as it is contains a great deal of legal language. The document contains many formal mechanisms, such as indemnification, collecting minutes and voting by proxy. These things are rare in church constitutions.
These various aspects of history, doctrine and constitution, combine in Christ Community Church of Greeley, Colorado. One finds a church with a hundred year history, rich in tradition and ready to face the future.
The Kingdom of God at Christ Community
Christ Community Church sees itself at a vibrant stage of church life. The church has a full compliment of ministry. Some of the ministries include—Early Childhood ministries, “Kid’s Konnection” (kindergarten-5th grade), “The Underground” (Middle School Ministry), Senior High Ministries, Soul Care ministries (Divorce Care, LivingFree ministries (addictions and compulsions), Grief Share, Post-Abortion Support, Bridges (infertility and pregnancy issues), Every Man’s Battle (sexual issues), Women’s H.O.P.E. (sexual issues), Parents of Teens, Pre-Marital Mentoring, Titus 2 (women mentoring), Hospital Ministry, Common Sense Stewardship Ministry and Meal Ministry.
The style of ministry is different from many churches. In reference to the organization of the website, Senior Pastor Alan Kraft writes that “we have a few core areas that provide our north star for this journey. Each of these are areas in which we are very intentional about growing.” He then immediately lists the following four areas—worded in a distinctive manner:
The Romance of God refers to our desire to grow in a real, love relationship with God through experiencing Him in worship, communicating with Him in prayer and learning more about Him through interacting with His Word.
The Connection of Family refers to our desire to help people experience real, caring relationship with others. We have a wide variety of mid and small sized groups designed for this purpose which will fit your life situation and time schedule.
The Gift of Service refers to our desire to help people make a difference in the lives of others by discovering the unique spiritual gifts God has given them and finding a place to use those gifts.
The Fragrance of Christ refers to our desire to sensitively and powerfully communicate the wonderful message of God’s love demonstrated in Jesus Christ.
In a post-modern fashion, there is an “ancient-modern” feel to the strategy statement.
Like many active churches, Christ Community receives its share of ink in the local newspaper. A baseball outreach clinic, held at the University of Northern Colorado, was spearheaded by former Eaton first baseman Matt Hagen. Another article highlights the partnership between the church and Cameron Elementary School in Greeley, focusing on a carnival for kids and the tutoring program called “Kids Hope.” The tutoring program involves fifty-five church members who are paired with Cameron students.
Most importantly in terms of newspaper coverage, the church was highlighted in an article on Generation X and post-modern worship. The article asserts that: “Christ Community Church in Greeley never set out to be a postmodern church. In fact, a 900-seat worship center seems to oppose the small, intimate settings of community-based postmodern churches. But in many ways its services are postmodern, said Pastor Alan Kraft. And, 30 percent to 40 percent of their membership are twentysomethings to early 30s.” The style of the church is captured in the article: “People can push the boundaries and not feel like they are being judged, said Phil Grizzle, Young Adults pastor.