Case Studies of Policy and Vision Implementation by the Executive Pastor–A Dissertation

///Case Studies of Policy and Vision Implementation by the Executive Pastor–A Dissertation

Case Studies of Policy and Vision Implementation by the Executive Pastor–A Dissertation

The following is a dissertation written in 2004 by David Fletcher about the Executive Pastor position. The footnotes have been removed to simplify reading on the web. Unfortunately, the images (and there are many) do not easily convert to the web format. Therefore, they, as well as the footnotes, Appendices and Bibliography, are available on the original PDF found below this article.

Chapter 1—Introduction

Reflection, study and prayer have always had to compete against the imperious claims of other activities. … Church officialdom is more likely to take note of a pastor mighty in raising money than of a pastor mighty in prayer. —Richard John Neuhaus

Richard John Neuhaus published these words in 1979 and reflected a growing tension in the American church. For many pastors, the art of preaching was being pushed aside and job descriptions became laden with other ministerial and management activities. The title Pastor often became Senior Pastor. The position of Senior Pastor generally included either the formal or informal job roles of Chief of Staff, Pastor to the Pastors, Chair of the Search Committee, church visionary, business executive, fundraiser and governing board member. In the American church, tension grew between the competing time and energy demands of church management and the spiritual disciplines required for able preaching. This is the compelling “first cause” for this research.

This dissertation presents an answer to the management crisis faced by the Senior Pastor. This study demonstrates the functional need of the Executive Pastor. The role of the Executive Pastor is to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board. The time and energy of the Senior Pastor can then focus on the pastoral disciplines, preaching and casting vision.

This Introduction orients the reader to the project. The rationale for the project is given and there is discussion of how the project fits into the ministry of this researcher. A concise statement of the problem and the research question is presented. Suggestions are given for how this dissertation can help others improve ministry effectiveness. Finally, there is a brief preview of each chapter.

From the Project’s Rationale to Hypothesis

The rationale for the project stems from this researcher’s twenty-one year ministry at Northwest Bible Church of Dallas, Texas, specifically in serving as Executive Pastor since 1998. Yet, as this dissertation is not a case study of Northwest Bible Church, other churches will be examined.

This researcher desires to study the role of other Executive Pastors for professional growth in ministry skills. As this pastor desires to continue to serve his existing congregation for the foreseeable future, the project abets and enhances his long term effectiveness.

A concise statement of the problem is: The emerging role of the Executive Pastor, with respect to policy-and-vision implementation in an Elder-led church, needs study and definition. The role of Executive Pastor is relatively new. It came into mainstream existence in the mid 1980’s, rose to great popularity in the mid-to-late 1990’s, and continues to the present time in widespread usage. This study is needed as there are no books published about the Executive Pastor that could be located by this researcher. Since there is little literature on the position of Executive Pastor, this work will seek to define the role.

The statement of the problem leads to the research question, What are the policies and implementations of vision by the Executive Pastor in the case study churches?

The problem and the question led to the development of the hypothesis: The case studies of the role of Executive Pastor in Elder-led churches will demonstrate that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching.

Two churches were interviewed for the in-depth analysis of the case study method. Irving Bible Church of Irving, Texas, served as the development site for the case study questions. Stonebriar Community Church of Frisco, Texas, also consented to be a case study church.

The churches were chosen for their similarities and differences. In similarity, the case study churches use an Elder Board for their governing board. While not being held up as the only successful model for church ministry, each case study church has more than three thousand worshippers in weekly services. In dissimilarity, Irving in the last ten years has moved from a traditional model of ministry to what some call a postmodern one. As a relatively traditional, conservative, evangelical church, Stonebriar was founded in 1999 by Chuck Swindoll. It became an “instant megachurch.”  Each church has unique strengths and struggles as it seeks to minister to congregants and community. As pertinent to the case studies, data from other churches will be incorporated, such as: Lake Avenue Congregational Church of Pasadena, California; Northwest Bible Church of Dallas, Texas; Richland Bible Church of Richland, Michigan; Santa Cruz Bible Church of Santa Cruz, California; and Watermark Community Church of Dallas, Texas.

Potential Benefits of this Study

The Doctor of Ministry program at Dallas Theological Seminary desires projects to benefit others in ministry. Through the academic disciplines and research in the case study approach, this student desires to contribute to the mission of his own church and the church universal.

The dissertation will enable other Christian leaders to have knowledge and understanding about the functional need of the Executive Pastor. It will also further develop this student’s ability by doing doctoral level research in a field setting. There are several specific groups who will benefit from this study:

  • Senior Pastors will do well to contemplate the managing and leadership role of the Executive Pastor. They will also benefit from examining the potential perils of a poorly developed and implemented Executive Pastor job description. The Senior Pastor can discover, “Am I in a management crisis?” “How can an Executive Pastor implement my ministry vision?” and “Can I work with and delegate to an Executive Pastor?” The Executive Pastor Indicator (XP-I) will objectively measure perceived need and may show blind spots.
  • Governing boards can learn how to relieve stress on the Senior Pastor and enhance the ministry function of the church.  “Is our Senior Pastor in a management crisis?” “Does our Senior Pastor invest sufficient time with the pastoral staff, to tend to their needs and development?” “How can an Executive Pastor further this church by implementing our policies?” If an entire governing board utilizes the Executive Pastor Indicator, hidden and competing views about the Senior and Executive Pastors may be unearthed.
  • Search Committees will benefit as they review expectations for a future Executive Pastor. Use of the Executive Pastor Indicator will show if the church needs an Executive Pastor, Business Administrator or Assistant Pastor. The objective data will enable fruitful discussion about elements to be included on an Executive Pastor’s job description.
  • Executive Pastors will profit from the comparative analysis to others performing the same function, as well as the review of pertinent literature. The Executive Pastor Indicator will give insight on areas of strength and limitation. Should there be different expectations indicated by the Indicator, the Executive Pastor will have an objective tool to evaluate the job description.
  • Members of a large pastoral staff will grow as they understand the Executive Pastor in the context of the American church. Differences in Executive Pastor Indicator results from the Executive Pastor may indicate flashpoints for future problems. Similarity in Indicator results with the Senior Pastor and governing board indicate shared expectations and functions of the Executive Pastor.

As well, there may be other individuals or groups which will benefit from this research, such as denominational leaders or church planting organizations.

Chapter Preview

In the Doctor of Ministry program at Dallas Theological Seminary, the second chapter of the dissertation is often devoted to an examination of previous research through a literature review. Though stated above, due to the structure of chapter two, it is important to repeat:

The emerging role of the Executive Pastor, with respect to policy-and-vision implementation in an Elder-led church, needs study and definition. The role of Executive Pastor is relatively new. It came into mainstream existence in the mid 1980’s, rose to great popularity in the mid-to-late 1990’s, and continues to the present time in widespread usage. This study is needed as there are no books published about the Executive Pastor. Since there is little literature on the position of Executive Pastor, this work will seek to define the role.

There is a paucity of material on the history, role, and functional need of the Executive Pastor. It is, therefore, imperative that the literature review show the causative factors in the creation of the position. In theological literature, there are causative factors relative to both the Senior Pastor and church growth in America. After examining the causative factors, there is a literature review pertaining to aspects of the role and function of the Executive Pastor.

As with literature reviews in other dissertations, the second chapter encompasses a thorough search of relevant books and periodicals. However, in light of the scant material pertaining to the Executive Pastor, this review has gone significantly deeper than might be expected. The literature review incorporates taped interviews, newspaper articles, and internet-based articles from established journals and freelance sources. Extensive research has discovered significant unpublished papers, essays and seminar outlines, such as those presented at convocations held for Senior Pastors and Executive Pastors. In an attempt to circulate the unpublished material, and with the original author’s written permission, this researcher is posting items on a website devoted to the functional need of the Executive Pastor, www.xpastor.org. While this may be uncommon in doctoral research, and as there are no internet sites devoted to the Executive Pastor, this inexpensive publishing format makes available these important papers to the church universal.

Chapter three presents the research procedure and method. Irving Bible Church served as the crucible to develop the Case Study Interview Questions, labeled the CS-IQ. These broad questions give the interviewer insight into the function and life of the church, from governmental structure to ministry vision. The Case Study Interview Questions led to the development of the Executive Pastor Indicator, labeled the XP-I. Whereas the Interview Questions examine the entire church, the Executive Pastor Indicator hones in on issues specific to the Executive Pastor. The XP-I can be taken by an Executive Pastor, by an individual considering becoming an Executive Pastor, by a person commenting on an existing Executive Pastor, or by a person commenting on the possible creation of an Executive Pastor position.

The Executive Pastor Indicator queries the respondent about the Executive Pastor’s three multidimensional roles and the five focused functions. There are three multidimensional roles of the Executive Pastor:

  • Assistant to the Senior Pastor.
  • Executive in the church.
  • Shepherd to the entire congregation.

There are five focused functions of the Executive Pastor:

  • The Administrator who manages business in the church.
  • The Catalyst who invigorates existing ministry or begins new ones.
  • The Mentor who motivates church staff to be their best.
  • The Minister who counsels, teaches and performs religious ceremonies.
  • The Overseer who supervises ministry to ensure it is in line with vision and values.

Chapter three presents a detailed description of each of these areas and the research methodology of the Interview Questions and Indicator. By means of statistical analysis, the chapter shows the reliability of the Executive Pastor Indicator.

Chapter four presents the results of the Case Study Interview Questions and the Executive Pastor Indicator. Printed materials supplied a great deal of information about the case study churches. Verbal answers to the Interview Questions primarily came through extensive interviews with the Executive Pastor of each case study church. If only the Case Study Interview Questions had been asked, then the case studies could have been mono-dimensional. However, this chapter also presents results of the Executive Pastor Indicator as completed by a selection of individuals, such as the Senior Pastor, the Executive Pastor, members of the governing board, subordinate staff that reports to the Executive Pastor and members of the congregation. To enrich the analysis, data about the Three Multidimensional Roles from Stonebriar Community Church are compared to Richland Bible Church. In the same way, the relocation of Irving Bible Church without an Executive Pastor on staff is compared to the current situation of Watermark Community Church. Nonconforming results of the Executive Pastor Indicator are included.  The results demonstrate the functional need of the Executive Pastor to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board. Through the case studies, the validity of the Executive Pastor indicator is proven.

Chapter five presents the conclusion and implications for further study. There are important conclusions about the role of the Executive Pastor. While the position is a newer one in the church, it fills a vital function. As this essay is an inaugural work on the functional need and role of the Executive Pastor, there are significant items for future study, such as transitional period of churches adopting the position of Executive Pastor. Important issues remain to be studied, such as how to train future Executive Pastors. As the position continues in the church, entirely new issues will deserve attention.

The Appendices contain research data, followed by the bibliography. The research data allows the reader to observe many of the findings of the cited churches. There is also a segment that details the crisis history of Northwest Bible Church in the late 1990s. This documents the resumption of the position of the Executive Pastor and gives demographic data on the numerical growth at Northwest. As Northwest has close ties to Irving, Stonebriar and Watermark, this is important related information. The bibliography will assist future researchers in extant data.

Chapter 2—Literature on Causative Factors and Role Aspects

Sometimes I feel like I’m being drowned. There’s no modeling for leading a megachurch, and it can be pretty scary. It’s like riding a wild tiger. If you stay on, it’s a wild ride and you don’t know where you are going. But if you get off, you’ll get eaten. —Anonymous Pastor

This dissertation examines churches where an Executive Pastor implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board. Although the quote from the anonymous pastor is in reference to a megachurch, and many megachurches employ Executive Pastors, this essay is for any church where the Senior Pastor or governing board feels the acute stress of the operational and leadership requirements of implementing vision and policy.

This chapter centers on a review of the literature pertaining to the causative factors and the role aspects of the Executive Pastor. This dissertation is not primarily an historical investigation. Yet, examining the historic role of the Senior Pastor, and growth of the church in America, is essential in any effort to understand the functional need for the Executive Pastor.

The causative factors are those items in the church which helped bring into existence the position of Executive Pastor. The first series of causative factors are relevant to the position of the Senior Pastor, namely the centrality of preaching, pastoral pressures, and the minister’s spiritual gifts. The second series of causative factors are relevant to church growth. These factors include the rise of the term and position of Senior Pastor, Preaching Pastor and Senior Minister, leadership challenges with a large staff, attempted solutions with the Associate Pastor and Business Administrator, and the acceleration of change induced by the popularity of the megachurch. In light of the factors which caused the role of Executive Pastor to be created, this essay examines several aspects of the position. These aspects include models of church staff structure, biblical patterns, pastoral and executive function, implementation of policy and vision, and perils of the position.

As this chapter is a literature review, extant literature on the topic will be presented. There is a paucity of literature that is devoted to the subject. Of the few items exclusively on the Executive Pastor, these are journal articles, taped interviews, internet-based articles, formerly unpublished essays, and articles. New sources were unearthed, as discussed in the Introduction:

Extensive research has discovered significant unpublished papers, essays and seminar outlines, such as those presented at convocations held for Senior Pastors and Executive Pastors. In an attempt to circulate the unpublished material, and with the original author’s written permission, this researcher is posting items on a website devoted to the functional need of the Executive Pastor, www.xpastor.org. While this may be uncommon in doctoral research, and as there are no internet sites devoted to the Executive Pastor, this inexpensive publishing format makes available these important papers to the church universal.

The lack of published books, or book sections, devoted to the Executive Pastor is another indication of the newness of the topic.

Causative Factors Relevant to the Pastor

In theological libraries there is a great amount of literature devoted to the role of the pastor, specifically on the pastor as preacher. As society has changed in the last one hundred years, pressures have grown on the pulpiteer. There are non-preaching needs in the church that many Preaching Pastors find they are ill-equipped, or lack the gifts, to accomplish. The coupling and burden on the Preaching Pastor of the historic importance of preaching with other job pressures is a main factor in the functional need for Executive Pastors.

The Historic Centrality of Preaching

The subject of this dissertation is not the homiletical prowess or history of the American church. Yet, there is an issue so foundational, that it must be mentioned as requisite.  The issue is as simple as it is profound, as stated by Professor Randall Balmer of Columbia University and Lauren Winner: “… sermons have been the stuff of Protestant spirituality (not to mention some of the great works of modern literature).” Said another way, preaching is of historic importance to the modern American church.

A few sources of national scope are sufficient to illustrate this foundational issue. Balmer and Winner cite the historical role of preaching: “Preaching has always stood at the center of the Protestant church experience in America. Puritans in colonial New England heard an average of fifteen thousand hours of sermons during a lifetime … sermons have been the stuff of Protestant spirituality (not to mention some of the great works of modern literature).” Marshall Shelley, Executive Editor of Leadership Journal, illustrates the origin of this concept for the American church:

The Reformation recovered the emphasis on the pastor as the ‘teacher of God’s Word.’ Preaching had long been neglected in the church; it had given way to thoughtless service at the altar. The Reformers placed preaching in the central place as the primary way to feed the flock of God. Breaking the Bread of Life means, in part, preaching the Word.

Preaching is the historic method in Protestant churches, American in specific, to spiritual life. The emphasis on preaching helps the American church understand its unique make-up. The historic importance of preaching gives an important grid in which to comprehend American spirituality.

The art of preaching has been defined by many, but renowned Lutheran-converted-to-Catholic, Richard John Neuhaus, has relevant thoughts to the concept of the centrality of preaching: “Preaching derives from praedicare: to proclaim publicly, to praise, to elevate.  To elevate the lordship of Jesus Christ and with it the world that he claims as his own, surely this is our great contribution.” Attention needs to be directed to his words, “our great contribution,” as Neuhaus says that the pastor’s central role is that of pulpiteer. He goes on to say, “For the preacher, the most public manifestation of the public self is in the pulpit.” As his public persona, preaching is not only central to the pastor’s position in the congregation and community but to the self-revelation of the person of the preacher. Preaching is important to the congregation and the pastor.

Taking this concept one step further, Harold Bosley, from Christ Church United Methodist in New York City, asserts about the settlement of the American continent; “That preaching was one of the most powerful factors in this experience of emigration and settlement is an uncontested historical fact.” Although Bosely discusses the historical role of preaching, he also sees the centrality of preaching in the modern era:  “Yet proclaiming the gospel in the contemporary church will lay as heavy a burden of preparation on the preacher as practicing medicine does upon the doctor.”

The pressures on the preacher to produce an excellent sermon intensified in the twentieth, and now the twenty-first, centuries.  In his book designed to allow pastors to speak anonymously about sensitive issues, Stefan Ulstein begins his chapter on Living in the Shadow of the Big Churches with the words of an anonymous pastor:

People read all these books by Swindoll and the others and get all excited. ‘Did you hear him on the radio?’ I feel like I have to keep up.  I’ve only been in two churches in my twenty-eight years of ministry, and they’ve both been smaller churches. I wonder, ‘Why can’t we get more people?’ I wonder if some guys are just destined to be in churches where huge numbers come in week after week, and others are supposed to labor away with 150. I wrestle with that a lot.

This illustrates a dichotomy between the large and small church. Through mass media, congregants in small churches can hear dozens of excellent homiliticians from the largest churches in America. Out of this can come a depersonalization of the pulpiteer as he preaches to thousands of people in the local church and hundreds of thousands or millions via the media.  It can also result in the depersonalization of the electronic congregant. Ulstein continues his interview with an anonymous pastor in the chapter, Living in the Shadow of the Big Churches:

I went to a seminar by a guy who has seven or eight thousand in his church. One of the pastors stood up and asked him, ‘How do you call on people?’

‘I don’t call.’

‘How many funerals do you do?’

‘I don’t’

‘How many marriages, baptisms—?’

He said, almost impatiently, ‘I study and preach. That’s what I do. I study eight hours a day and preach the Word.’

I couldn’t understand how this worked.  It just sounded too cut and dried, so I asked him, ‘How do you get things going?’

He said, ‘I don’t.  I pray and ask God to motivate other people to get things going. I don’t start anything. I just preach.’

I don’t know how he can do it.  I wanted to ask him, but I didn’t get the time.

People visit big churches and they can get lost if they want to. If they visit my little congregation two or three times, we smell fresh blood.

This comment also has bearing on the next section on “Pressures on the Pastor.”

The small church pastor can feel in a different league than the megachurch preacher.  At a minimum, it can be said that the entire American continent is broadcast every hour with the sermons of famous homileticians. Radio and television has intensified pressure and competition on all Preaching Pastors.

This section has briefly examined the concept that “sermons have been the stuff of Protestant spirituality,” or said in another way by this researcher “preaching is of historic importance to the modern American church.” This concept is a major factor in small and large American churches. It will be accepted as an operating principle for this dissertation.

Pressures on the Pastor

With the acceptance of the operating principle of the historic importance of preaching, it will do well to briefly address other pressures on the preacher. In a chapter entitled, A Pastor’s Job Description, counselors Frank Minirth and others succinctly summarize the modern pastor:

To fill the job description of today’s pastor sounds like a job for Superman. A pastor is expected to make house calls as willingly as yesterday’s country doctor, to shake hands and smile like a politician on the campaign trail, to entertain like a stand-up comedian, to teach the Scriptures like a theology professor, and to counsel like a psychologist with the wisdom of Solomon.  He should run the church like a top-level business executive, handle finances like a career accountant, and deal with the public like an expert diplomat at the United Nations. No wonder so many pastors are confused about just what is expected of them and how they will ever manage to live up to all those expectations.

There are many potential aspects to the job description of the modern pastor, and this essay will not attempt to canvass them. Rather, it will establish the fact-in-principle of the bloated job description. Of interest, pressures on the minister are abundant in Protestantism and Judaism.  Margaret Harris of the Centre for Voluntary Organisation, London School of Economics, describes the shared pressures in her work about church and synagogue:

The impact of unclear and multiple goals is felt especially by ministers of religion as they try to prioritise their work and implement their roles. At least eight possible functions for ministers of religion can be derived from the accumulated literature on their roles: religious celebration, preaching or ‘prophecy,’ education, pastoral care, community leadership, public representation, administration and managerial leadership. Not surprisingly, rabbis and clergy face numerous different expectations about how they will select priorities and implement their role—from their peers, from their denominational structure, from lay leaders of their church or synagogue, from active volunteer helpers, from potential members, and from the local community. The minister has not only to cope with the volume and breadth of the expectations, but also with conflicts between them and the consequences of inevitable failure to meet every demand.

There are many goals for the modern day pastor and the pastor is struggling to meet the expectations. Speaking to the modern day church leader, Marshall Shelley writes of another set of pressures:

With individualism and isolation increasing, the need for community is stronger than ever. Pastors assumed a greater role in maintaining corporate life, or put more crassly, ‘running a church’—recruiting, motivating, administering.

Put positively, this merely extends the role of ‘organizer of nurturing relationships’ who tends to the health of the community.

The downside is that a pastor may feel more like a manager of church business than a shepherd of souls.

And surrounded by a decreasingly Christian society, the need to evangelize the world at the church’s doorstep is unavoidable. ‘Missionary to our own neighborhood’ has been added to the pastor’s role.

In light of the many functions and needs given by Harris and then by Shelley, if one person tries to fill all these needs, Minirth’s invocation of the Superman title is accurate.

Of importance for this essay is the relationship of pressure on the pastor to the historic importance and centrality of preaching. The ever present surveyor of the American church landscape, George Barna, asserts:  “Leadership, for most pastors, is just one of those unfortunate duties they must endure as part of the deal that allows them to do that which really turns them on—preaching and teaching.” On a mundane but practical level, Ken Gangel begins his chapter entitled, Designing the Playbook: Creative Administration, with thoughts on the pressures:

A nationwide survey conducted by Your Church magazine discovered that 61 percent of pastors would spend less time in meetings if they could, 37 percent would spend less time mediating conflict, and 34 percent would spend less time counseling. If they could gain that time, they would spend it in evangelism (58 percent), personal devotions (66 percent), sermon preparation (73 percent), and prayer (75 percent).

The data can be visually represented in a chart:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

This confirms what Neuhaus pointed toward, that pastors need more time for the pastoral disciplines.

Another pressure on the preacher is being a pastor of a small church near a megachurch. Although the megachurch will be further discussed later in this chapter, it should be noted that it can bring tremendous pressure on small church pastors. A story from the Los Angeles Times illustrates one example:

Like many leaders of small congregations in Southern California, Pastor Doug Webster walks through the valley of the shadow of the megachurch.

Saddleback Church, one of the country’s largest congregations, looms just two miles down the road from Webster’s Mountain View Church offices in Mission Viejo. The 20-acre Saddleback complex welcomes 15,000 worshipers each weekend, has more than 55,000 names on the church roster, and is run by celebrity pastors whose books are bestsellers.

Despite that considerable shadow, Webster has steadily grown his small church over the past four years from a 20-person group that met in his living room to a healthy, medium-sized congregation of 450.

And now he’s helping other pastors of small congregations do the same, through monthly meetings, pooled resources, a fledgling internet site and occasional visits to neighboring churches.

Webster and his loose-knit, growing group of ten South Orange County pastors share similar problems with colleagues across Southern California, the land of the megachurch where bigger often seems better.

Pastor Webster has a significant ministry with four hundred fifty congregants. Yet, he considers this small and wrestles with significance as a pastor. Bill Hybels, in an audiotape interview about the Executive Pastor, tells of a relatively small church in Arizona that has a volunteer Executive Pastor. The man works as an attorney two days a week and donates three days a week to the church to be the Executive Pastor.  Though Webster and others feel pressure from the megachurches, they have a need for an Executive Pastor. Later in the article Pastor Webster concludes that:

The first thing anyone asks you is, ‘How big is your church,’ he said.  ‘And that hits the ego.’

For example, when Mountain View drew 50 teenagers to a youth event, Webster was thrilled. But at Saddleback, in neighboring Lake Forest, major teenage dances attracted more than 5,000.

Many pastors would be thrilled with an event hosting fifty teenagers, but next to the five thousand teenagers at Saddleback, Pastor Webster felt the pressure of insignificance. For pastors of smaller churches, there are pressures to be the master pulpiteer, to handle the pressure of comparison, to cope with a small church ministry in a megachurch’s shadow, to somehow do it all. The conclusion is that pastors in churches of all sizes feel the pressure to be bigger and better. To answer the management crisis, at least one smaller church found a creative means of having a volunteer Executive Pastor oversee the church.

The words of Neuhaus in his 1979 work, Freedom for Ministry, are as easily a dialogue displaced by time with the 1998 survey that Ken Gangel cited from Your Church magazine and the Los Angeles Times interview in 2001 with Pastor Webster.  Neuhaus says “many pastors report that they do not have time for serious study at all.” As cited in part to introduce the first chapter of this essay, Neuhaus addresses the pressures as well:

Reflection, study and prayer have always had to compete against the imperious claims of other activities. The imperiousness of the claims is reinforced by the fact that such activities are usually more visible, often more immediately satisfying, and almost certainly more likely to be applauded by others. Church officialdom is more likely to take note of a pastor mighty in raising money than of a pastor mighty in prayer.

With prescience, Neuhaus sensed the demands and pressures of the modern church as contrasting the historic importance of preaching and the spiritual life.

A logical question arises. If preaching is central, and if our pastors do not have sufficient pastoral time and energy to prepare the sermon, then who will do the other things required in a local church? Perhaps part of the answer to this question lies in the biblical words used for elder, pastor, and overseer. David Mappes lays out his premise as he introduces the Greek words relevant to this subject: “Perhaps the most debated aspect of church polity is the relationship between these three terms. This article seeks to demonstrate that πρεσβύτερoς, ἐπίσκoπoς and πoίμην refer to the same office and individuals who hold those offices. He also says:

The duties of the elder-overseer-pastor can be summarized in two areas: giving oversight (ruling, guiding, caring for) and teaching or preaching. Because of the emphasis on these two areas of ministry, some say there are two separate offices: some elders rule whereas others teach or preach. Calvin was one of the first to articulate the distinction between teaching and ruling elders.

Mappes drives toward a conclusion that “this distinction between ruling and teaching is one of function rather than class or office.” While that issue is not necessarily pertinent to this dissertation, and is even perhaps counter to the thesis of this essay, Mappes brings one to the conclusion that in certain churches preaching and oversight may be too time consuming for one individual. This is important as, in citing Calvin, it again points to the historic centrality of preaching in the church, leaving the work of overseeing to another elder, or in the modern day, perhaps an Executive Pastor.

Of particular interest to the role of the Executive Pastor is Alan Nelson’s dividing up of pastoring into three areas: spiritual provision, management and leadership. Just as Neuhaus craved to see more attention given to study and reflection by pastors, so perhaps others need to assume various responsibilities in the church. An application of Nelson’s idea may be for the preacher to focus on spiritual provision, the governing board on leadership, and other staff on church management. This points directly to the functional need of the Executive Pastor to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board.

What emerges from this section is the prevailing thought that pastors want to fulfill the historic and important role of preaching in American churches. Yet, due to pressures, it is increasingly difficult to do so. The possibility of another to manage the church, such as an Executive Pastor, brings glimmers of possible answers to the crisis.

Spiritual Gifts of Pastors

Although preachers may want to spend more time preaching and teaching, it would do well to evaluate whether they are gifted to do so.  George Barna has surveyed American pastors to find their spiritual gifts.  He presents the data in a chart:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

This data demonstrates that gifted people are focusing on the historic role of preaching. Barna brings out, though, another phenomena: “Highly effective churches, on the other hand, have placed a true leader in the position of leadership … such leaders articulate vision, mobilize the people, motivate focused activity, consistently provide strategic direction and resources to get the job done efficiently and effectively …” He also notes that, “In recent years I have observed that most churches confuse superb preaching with effective leadership. The ability to differentiate between these two elements is perhaps the simplest way of distinguishing effective churches from educational churches.”

Thus, American churches have people with preaching gifts in their pulpits, but those preachers may not always be leaders. Far from helping the problem, this material puts further pressures on the Preaching Pastor, causing questions to be raised: “Am I a good preacher? Am I a good manager? Am I a good leader? Can I effectively work with the governing board? How can I handle my diverse job description?”

Section Summary

This section on the pastoral causative factors accepted the premise of Balmer and Winner that sermons have been the stuff of Protestant spirituality. This is a foundational issue for the causative factors relevant to the pastor for the creation of the Executive Pastor position. The historic importance of preaching clashed with other items in the modern day pastor’s job description. Although the pastor is gifted to preach, there is tension with the tremendous demands for other ministry, leadership and management. The preacher is left with the question, “If I am supposed to use my gifts, and I want to, who will manage the church?”

Causative Factors Relevant to Church Growth

The previous section viewed causative factors only from the perspective of the Preaching Pastor. However, other factors have emerged with the modern trend for churches to have larger congregations.  The trend for the average congregation to have more congregants has been on an upward swing for decades.  The renowned expert on the American church, Lyle Schaller, published data on church growth in 1980, relatively early in his writing career:

Avg. Worship 
Attendance
 Percentile  Type
35 25% Fellowship
75 50% Small
140 75% Middle-sized
200 85% Awkward size
350 95% Large
600 98% Huge
700 or more 100%  Minidenomination

Schaller’s data can be transferred to a chart for visual interpretation:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

One significant point from this data is that in 1980 there was not a generally accepted word-in-print for the very large church. In the church data chart, Schaller calls the seven hundred plus member congregation a minidenomination. Later Schaller comments on the lack of terminology: “Only one Protestant congregation in a hundred averages more than 700 at worship … some observers refer to them as ‘superchurches.’”

Twenty years later, Schaller again wrote about church growth in America: “For various Presbyterian denominations, the mean average size rose from 95 members in 1890 to 118 in 1906 to 295 for the 15,000 Presbyterian congregations of 1996—triple the 1990 average.” A chart presents Schaller’s data in a visual format with only the beginning and ending dates:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Schaller helps one see three significant facts. First, the trend toward larger churches can be documented since 1890. Second, there was not a generally accepted word-in-print in 1980 for the new entity, the minidenomination or superchurch. Third, the average Presbyterian church tripled in average size from 1890 to 1996.

This trend toward larger churches amplifies the pressures on the Preaching Pastor. As the church grew, who was going to manage this ever-larger organization?

The Position of Senior Pastor

As churches grew, the pastor began to have a new adjective placed in the position title, differentiating leader from subordinates.

While it may have been more accurate to use the title Preaching Pastor, the noun senior was used adjectively to denote hierarchal leadership in the title Senior Pastor and Senior Minister. This trend in titles was the outward manifestation of the changes in the pastor’s written or virtual job description. This is as Lyle Schaller notes: “The larger the congregation, the greater the expectations that institution places on the senior minister to be the initiating leader.”

While Neuhaus craved for more study and reflection for the Preaching Pastor, the culture and institutional church asked for a multidimensional leader. One who was writing ten years before Neuhaus’ Freedom for Ministry, was Marvin T. Judy, Professor of Sociology of Religion and Director of the Center for Research and Planning at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His work, Multiple Staff Ministry, is the result of twenty-five hundred interviews. In Judy’s significant work in 1969, he sets the stage for confrontation with Neuhaus in that era:

The problem may be complicated by the fact that congregations select the senior minister on grounds, as a general rule, other than executive ability. He is selected first of all because of preaching ability, or pastoral ability, or counseling ability, or his reputation of success (whatever this may mean) in other pastorates. In other words, the senior minister is selected or appointed on his professional ministerial abilities rather than upon his ability as an executive.

In 1996, Nelson made a similar comment that the Senior Minister should serve as an executive, a visionary leader, not merely a Preaching Pastor:

The days when the pastor serves solely as resident theologian, teacher, counselor, and church manager are quickly passing … Now, with the changing times, we are expecting more from our ‘leaders’ than sermons, budget setting, and policy maintenance. We are looking for those who will also set vision and significantly move the church forward.

To focus on Judy, he wrote in 1969 and he prophetically spoke about an Executive Minister, although in his work he mixes that role with the Preaching Pastor:

Without question the most strategic position on the church staff is that of senior minister. I am using the term senior minister, though I prefer some other title. My preference would be a title that would imply a co-worker with other members of the staff, but one who has the executive responsibility of giving direction to the staff. The term ‘pastoral director’ coined by Richard Niebuhr has not received a good hearing. The term ‘executive minister’ is more descriptive of what the office is. A new term is difficult to define. Therefore the term ‘senior minister’ is used with reservations. The title implies seniority in executive authority, not seniority in professional abilities in the staff.

The Senior Minister became an implied executive minister and was required to be an excellent preacher. The Senior Minister was required to have executive skills, and was confronted with a growing staff and the ongoing demands of moving the church forward with vision-casting.

As to the burgeoning demands placed on the Senior Pastor, Gangel’s thoughts are pertinent: “Effectiveness in any ministry requires us to ask, “Why has God called me here and what does He want me to do?” Gangel’s question can be applied to the emerging role of the Senior Pastor, as to the focus and priorities of the minister. Gangel addresses the subject as he concludes the chapter, Give it Your Best: Quality Control:

Quality control in ministry calls for us to think critically about our ministries and ways of doing things. Christian organizations must cultivate the ability to identify and challenge assumptions, to imagine and explore alternatives, while evaluating tentative conclusions against the standards of God’s Word.

It was time for the Senior Pastor to consider quality, to think analytically about what the Preaching Pastor should do. The church had to struggle with what it was calling the Senior Pastor to be; preacher, visionioneer or executive.

With the new demands, the Senior Pastor struggled to maintain quality in preaching. The problem of how to maintain quality in preaching, while also managing a church, has been noted by Carl George, formerly Director of the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth, and Robert Logan, pastor of a twelve hundred member church in Alta Loma, California:

The average pastor has an uncommon task—one in which he wears three hats. The first hat is that of a preacher. Much effort and energy go into his training for this area of responsibility. …

His second hat, that of shepherd, has received much attention over the past twenty years. …

For the third hat, the leader-manager role, the least training has been available. Pastors confess this area takes most of their time, yet they feel least well-equipped for it.

Judy concurs on this concept and goes further: “In our frame of reference—the church staff—authority is assigned by the congregation to the senior minister as the leader. His authority rests in the belief that he has been professionally trained to be the pastor of the congregation and also the director of the church staff.” The bottom line is that pastors often felt ill-equipped, but simultaneously empowered, to the task of managing the church.

Judy later says, “It is vitally important that the senior minister understand his position as one who does hear ideas and makes possible the release of the creative ability of every individual on the church staff.” Thus, the Senior Pastor has not only the pressures of preaching in Protestant churches, but is also church executive and Chief of Staff.  It is no wonder that H.B. London, a pastor of a megachurch for thirty-two years, writes, “Often the greatest conflicts in an organization result from the inability of senior leadership to coexist effectively and cordially with their colleagues.” The Senior Pastor may be too busy to be polite or build in-depth relationships.

The pressures on the Senior Pastor increased as the number of congregants and staff grew. Instead of fewer items on the job description, roles were added and requisite talents increased. Leith Anderson comments on this increase:

Most churches with two hundred or fewer people in average worship attendance have a ‘hub and spoke’ model of pastoral ministry. The pastor is the hub with up to two hundred people directly relating to him. He knows each one by name, and he and they perceive he is engaged in a one-to-one ministry.…

If a church grows beyond two hundred individuals, the pastor keeps adding spokes. But if he does not change his leadership style, such a pastor may well experience burnout or even resign. However, if the same pastor switches to a delegation model, those negative consequences can be avoided. In a delegation model the pastor equips others, shares ministry, and empowers people.

Schaller quantified the number of professional staff positions related to the size of the church:

Average Attendance at Worship                Full-time Program Staff Positions

                    200                                                                            1

                    300                                                                            2

                    400                                                                            3

                    500                                                                            4

                    600                                                                            5

                    700                                                                            6

                    800                                                                            7

                    900                                                                       7 or 8

The same data can be represented in visual form:

(To view graphic, please see original PDF below article)

Anderson brings basic definitions to some of these staff positions:

Almost all church staffs are divided according to program and support people. Program staff includes pastors and others who plan and implement church ministries, such as worship services, Christian education, and pastoral care. Support staff enable the program staff to get their jobs done by providing secretarial, custodial, and other technical help.

From this data, it is seen that the Senior Pastor of a church of nine hundred needs a great deal of administrative skill to manage eight staff and the growing corporate culture in the church. The Senior Pastor has become an administrator and manager. Will he have time to follow pastoral disciplines to prepare for preaching?

Don Cousins was an Associate Pastor at Willow Creek, South Barrington, Illinois and responsible for staff and ministries of the church. He wrote on the subject with Leith Anderson, the Senior Pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Arthur DeKruyter, the founding pastor of Christ Church of Oak Brook, Illinois:

Few pastors graduate from seminary hoping to become administrators. The term administration, itself, hardly sets feet dancing. In many people’s minds, administration stands precipitously close to bureaucracy. It smacks of endless details, of rigidity, red tape, and routine.

Yet, administration—managing the affairs of a church—often spells the difference between pastoral effectiveness and ineffectiveness.

Focusing on one concept, they continue; “While administration may be an unpopular word, the task of leading and managing a church effectively remains at the heart of ministry.”

Cousins, Anderson and DeKruyter summarize the challenge of effective preaching and efficient management: “Not every pastor is gifted in church leadership. Some feel their call is to the Word and prayer, not to wrestling a congregation into organizational orderliness. Such pastors have two options: either find someone to manage the church or learn to do it themselves.” The Senior Pastor is now faced with the further challenge—either do it all or find someone to do it. To accept the challenge of finding someone to manage the church, the Senior Pastor may have to convince the governing board of the necessity. To that end, two positions were given some management responsibly and leadership power.

The Solution of the Associate Pastor

As the church added a second pastor, that person often received the title Associate or Assistant Pastor. In 2000, Martin Hawkins, Assistant Pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, completed a doctoral study on the role of the Associate and Assistant Pastor. He sought to present a profile of the typical Associate Pastor. Hawkins defines the role of the Assistant Pastor:

The assistant pastor’s position is a supportive leadership position. The individual in this position has the primary responsibility to assist the senior pastor in creation, implementation, and management of specific functions designed to bring about the unity and maturity of the body of Christ. This will involve working closely with the ruling board as well as the congregation.

Hawkins’ key term for the Assistant’s role is specific functions. While the Senior Pastor has responsibility for all ministries in the church, the Assistant oversees only a limited number of ministry areas. As to the duties of the Assistant, Hawkins notes:

Often, this position’s duties will entail general responsibilities delegated by the senior pastor or ruling board, or both. In other instances, this position is responsible for specific areas of ministry such as Education, Outreach, Youth or Worship. Sometimes the assistant pastor will function as an executive pastor who oversees all internal administration.

Hawkins points the way from the Assistant Pastor to a beginning definition of the Executive Pastor, pointing to something beyond the limited scope of the Assistant Pastor.

There are problems related to the Assistant Pastor position. The role of the Assistant Pastor is often overlooked, as Hawkins says “… the Congregation is highly unaware of the intricate working of the Assistant and Associate Pastors.” Further, he notes that “… many associate pastors struggle in their positions to find fulfillment and significance in their roles.” In 1997, Greg Ogden pointed out that there is transience in the role: “On the average, associate pastors change positions every three to four years. This turnover indicates an underlying dissatisfaction in the role of associate.  Two primary reasons for this are: (1) in the church culture, it is assumed that associates worth their salt will move toward a senior position, and (2) within some church staffs, there is considerable dissension between associate and senior pastors.”

For a period of time the Assistant helped the Senior Pastor. It seems that as the church grew that the Assistant role did not have the required scope to enable the Senior Pastor to focus on preaching. Schaller comments that, “The larger the congregation and the longer it has been in existence, the more complex the requirements of the staff. … This factor is one reason why many large churches are replacing the full-time associate minister …”

Many churches continue to use the position of Associate or Assistant Pastor. This may be due to the history of the church, polity, or the need to make changes on a timely basis. Assistant Pastor Hawkins and Senior Pastor Dr. Anthony Evans have said that Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship of Dallas, Texas, will move toward the Executive Pastor role in the foreseeable future. An organizational chart of a church with an Associate Pastor can be constructed. There are many variations of church structure with an Associate Pastor and the following chart presents one example:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

The above organizational chart illustrated the difficulty of the Assistant or Associate Pastor roles. The Senior Pastor has at least six people in a reporting relationship. There will be others who will need to meet with the Senior Pastor on a regular basis, such as the person who oversees the worship services. The Senior Pastor has personnel to handle the tasks of ministry but oversight is still with the Senior Pastor. This scenario puts a tremendous management burden on the Senior Pastor, without even addressing preaching responsibilities.

For the sake of simplicity, it would do well to put here an organizational chart of a relatively typical Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor.

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

The Senior Pastor has one individual in a reporting relationship, only the Executive Pastor. The Executive Pastor has a direct reporting relationship with the Core Ministry Team. This model is scalable as the Core Ministry Team in a smaller church could be all volunteers or mix of paid staff.  The Core Ministry Team in a larger church could be four to six pastoral staff with ten to forty, or more, ministers under them. Whether in a smaller or larger church, the Senior Pastor is free from management duties so as to focus on the pastoral disciplines.

The Solution of the Business Administrator

Another solution, often in conjunction with the Associate Pastor role, is for the church to hire a Business Administrator. Minirth and others succinctly discuss this area, in the context of different hats that the pastor wears:

The Businessman Hat

If you are like most pastors, this is probably the hat you would most like to pack away in mothballs. If your church is fortunate enough to have a church administrator, you may think you can do exactly that. …

Many ministers struggle with the challenge of overseeing the church staff.

The option of hiring a Business Administrator occurs as churches grow beyond the point that the preaching pastor and volunteers can manage the church office. Generally, the Business Administrator reports to the Senior Pastor, taking financial management off of the Senior Pastor, but adding supervisory oversight. The Business Administrator may oversee non-ministerial support staff.

Steven Breedlove, in his doctoral dissertation, saw the addition of a Business Manager as essential to the growth of Bethany Chapel:

The critical step that I can take to advance growth in administrative function is to pursue (through much prayer and discussion with the elders) the addition of a contract consultant for the next nine months to help spearhead our efforts at organizational restructuring. The objective ‘outside consultant’ will have the opportunity to assist us in resolving much of the administrative dysfunction that we agree has developed over the years.

Breedlove gives concluding application to his doctoral work by stating:

I am committed to shifting the responsibility for overall church management from the Administration and Finance Committee to the pastoral and support staff so that the staff is able to solve its challenges, delegate its responsibilities, resolve its differences, come to unity and carry out its mandate for ministry.

And he continues, “Until an associate pastor of administration is present to shoulder the load, I must meet regularly with the office manager to support and strengthen him in his leadership and to provide resources for his task.” It has been difficult for some churches to decide whether the church needs a Business Manager or an Executive Pastor. The Executive Pastor Indicator, presented in chapter four, helps churches in this process. Until Breedlove gets assistance with managerial issues, he will have reduced hours each week for the pastoral disciplines.

Ken Godevenos recommends that, “Decide whether an Administrative Pastor or a true EP is required. The former administers day-to-day operations while the latter usually acts as the pilot who gets us to our destination.” Schaller weighs in on the role of the Business Administrator:

The larger the congregation, the greater the institutional pressure on the senior minister to place a higher priority on administration rather than on spending time with members in a pastoral role. …

A widespread response to this pattern of institutional behavior is to employ a church business administrator in an effort to free the senior minister to spend more time on preaching, pastoral care, and other ministerial duties. Occasionally this response turns out to be a good solution to the problem.

In spite of Schaller’s dire warning, churches such as Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, have successfully used the Assistant Pastor and Business Administrator model for many years. Wes Kiel adds to this subject from his research on Executive Pastors:

I believe that the gifts that make a person a good Business Manager are quite different than, even opposite from the gifts which make a good Executive Pastor. The Business Manager needs to be the kind of person who naturally keeps close control of everything under his/her jurisdiction while the ministry manager should encourage people to ‘go for it.’  Good Business Managers have an eye for detail while good Executive Pastors need to be able to see the ‘big picture.’ One Executive Pastor who had successfully moved from the position of church Business Manager said that he had to learn to shift from ‘tight control to light control.’

There is not necessarily an adversarial relationship between a Business Administrator and an Executive Pastor. Rather, the two positions vary by scope, gifting and function.

The issue returns to the historic importance of preaching in American churches and the desire to have Preaching Pastors spend significant time in prayer and study. With the Assistant Pastor and Business Administrator, the Senior Pastor has at least two people, and generally more, in direct reporting relationships. The Senior Pastor retains the executive function and is the Chief of Staff. The Senior Pastor has some relief from the tasks of church management, but not freedom from them.  In these models, the Senior Pastor implements the vision and policy of the governing board.

Acceleration of Change Induced by the Megachurch

If the already cited changes about the average size of the American church and the relevant pressures on the Preaching Pastor were not enough, the rise of the megachurch created more pressures. The megachurch has caused a great deal of controversy and this section is not advocating large churches over smaller churches. Eric Swanson writes in Leadership Journal about the sizes of church:

But large churches discover a troubling secret. Size alone isn’t good enough. Great or small, churches need something more than bigger numbers.

This section merely notes that the megachurch accelerated change regarding adoption of the position of the Executive Pastor. Samuel Rima, a District Executive Minister of the Columbia (Washington) Baptist Conference writes:

Since the early 1980s, those being trained for pastoral ministry, as well as those already leading in the local church setting, have had an almost manic obsession with the megachurch.

Though primarily a phenomenon of the last two decades, the megachurch (that is, churches with average worship attendance of 1,500 or more) has become the standard by which many, if not most, pastors and lay church leaders measure their ministry success or, conversely, their lack of success.

Megachurches are frequently in the press, as are statistics about their growth. There was an article in The Miami Herald about the growth of megachurches: “In 1970, there were only 10 non-Catholic churches in the nation that counted more than 2,000 in weekend attendance. Today, there are more than 500, with a new one added somewhere in the country every two to three weeks, estimates Vaughan.” An article in The Arizona Republic asserts that “California leads both rankings, with 101 megachurches attended weekly by 364,612 people. But Arizona churches are truly ‘mega.’ Attendance per church averages nearly 4,800 people, dwarfing California’s average of 3,600.”

Nancy Eiesland sees the trend-setting role of the megachurch: “This chapter highlights the internal dynamics of a trend-setting institution—a megachurch—and the interorganizational response to this innovator among other churches in its field.” With such a powerful trend, Os Guisness gives cautionary words as well: “… once a church reaches the critical mass of one thousand its financial and organizational potential for growth becomes great, but so also does its entanglement with modernity.”

On trying to find a definition for the megachurch, Eiesland in 1997 may overstate the case but demonstrates the difficulty of the issue:  “No scholarly or even popular consensus yet exists regarding an operational definition of a megachurch.” In 2000, Lyle Schaller addressed five types of churches, which sets one definition of the size of the megachurch:

 Size                                     Average Weekly Attendance

Small                                                   up to 100

Midsize                                               101-350

Large                                                   351-750

Very Large                                          751-1,800

Megachurch                                       1,801 plus

Four years after Eiesland’s work was published, and a year after Schaller published this chart, The Hartford Institute for Religion Research released the findings on a major study on megachurches. Hartford gave census data on known megachurches and presented the beginning of a formal definition of the megachurch:

On average the senior pastor is 52 years of age and has been at the congregation over 12 years. Ninety-nine percent of these pastors are male. Eighty-eight percent are white, six percent are African American and six percent were of other racial and ethnic backgrounds including Hispanic, American Indian, and ‘other.’

These pastors are generally well educated with 97% having secular college degree or higher. In terms of ministerial education, 5 percent had no training or a certificate, 22 percent went to Bible college or had some seminary training and 73 percent had a seminary degree or better.

These megachurches averaged 13 full time paid ministerial staff persons, and 25 full time paid program staff persons. The average number of volunteer workers (giving 5 or more hours a week to the church) was 297.

John Vaughan directs the Church Growth and World Missions Center, and is editor for the North American Society for Church Growth. He notes the existence in history of large churches of twenty thousand or more in several cities at the time of Constantine. Spurgeon’s London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle sat six thousand. In another work, Vaughn says that “Large churches are part of our history. The recent rise of larger and larger churches at an increasingly faster rate of growth is unique to this final quarter of the twentieth century.”

Though there have been a few very large churches in the history of the church, it has been in the last ten to twenty years that they have proliferated. Some enjoy the megachurch, while some do not, as reported by religion writer William Lobdell in The Los Angeles Times:

‘Saddleback has spawned 25 affiliate churches in Orange County and extends a hand to any pastor who asks,’ said executive pastor Glen Kreun.

‘It’s not easy being a big church, it’s not easy being a small church,’ Kreum said. ‘If pastors start comparing themselves, there’s a problem. God’s given each of them a unique personality and gifts, and they need to be the person God wants them to be.’ …

‘There’s room for diversity,’ said Frank at Emory (University’s Chandler School of Theology). ‘There’ve always been Americans who like to worship in big crowds with thousands of voices singing.’

‘But speaking personally, in a congregation of 2,000, I’m as nervous as a cat.’

With or without an Executive Pastor, in the megachurch, the role of the Preaching Pastor is not without difficulty. Ulstein, in his interviews with pastors, anonymously cites one:

I came here in 1970, and the church had been going for about a year. We had sixty-five people back then. Now we have six thousand. We have five regional pastors who marry, bury, counsel and hold meetings. Some of them serve up to eight hundred families. We’ve started five new churches in other areas.

Though this sounds positive, and it may be for the church and community, for the Senior Pastor the growth comes at a high price. The same anonymous pastor continues:

The role of the senior pastor changes when the church grows to this size. About 95 percent of the people don’t expect to know you. …

My favorite thing is soul-winning, which I used to do about four nights a week. Now it’s down to one night a week.

I do no hospital visits, no weddings, almost no funerals. The other pastors do that.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being drowned. There’s no modeling for leading a megachurch, and it can be pretty scary. It’s like riding a wild tiger. If you stay on, it’s a wild ride and you don’t know where you’re going. But if you get off, you’ll get eaten.

From the popular press, The Arizona Republic documents that, “Often Megachurches are too dependent on the personality and vision of a single pastor. When the pastor dies or moves on, large churches sometimes find that congregants leave with him. Sometimes the stress on the senior pastor is intense.”

In another area of the megachurch, there are staff changes which belie the functional need for the Executive Pastor. Vaughan notes:

Once a congregation of either Presbyterial or Episcopal governmental structure reaches a weekly attendance of about 5,000, the role of the ordained ministers tends to become increasingly Episcopal … The senior pastor (the title he uses makes little difference) functions as a monarchial bishop to his staff or council of bishops in a figurative and functional sense.

The decision-making process is also commented on by Schaller:

This same pattern of an increasing reliance on full-time staff members prevails at other levels, such as conferences, synods, associations, and districts. It is generally true in the churches, as in business and government, that the larger the administrative unit, the greater the influence of full-time ‘staff’ members. When you regularly accept and act on the advice of another person, you transfer to him part of your decision-making power.

In 1994, Carl George and Warren Bird discussed the staff of the megachurch, with explicit reference to an Executive Minister:

Meta-Church Staffing Emphases

  1. Board (generically described as a governing board, policy board, or executive board).
  2. Primary vision casters (senior pastor and perhaps also an executive minister) for managing staff.
  3. Staff who handle administration (money, buildings, personnel, advertising).

While George and Bird give a glancing comment about the Executive Minister, Vaughan uses the term in 1993, yet he feels the need to give definition to the difference between the Executive Pastor and the Senior Pastor: “It is common for Megachurches with attendance of 2,000 or more people to provide associates for almost every category of ministry staff.  Several have added new categories of staff, such as executive pastors (this is not the same person as the senior pastor) …”  Thus, by 1993 and 1994, the term Executive Pastor was in print, but was still a little shaky in definition and use.

The term Executive Pastor was fully developed by 1999.  Dave Travis, after convening a group of Senior Pastors and Executive Pastors in 1999 under the auspices of Leadership Network, concluded that a church is ready for an Executive Pastor when it realizes that the items previously discussed in this section are not sufficient:

What’s driving this issue at your church? At the root, there are two basic, interwoven answers. Growth and/or pain. The system has outgrown the team as it is currently structured and gifted. Staff, whether Senior Pastor or other team members, is feeling the stress. Often the board makes note of this and wonders: Is there another way? Also, it is usually a Senior Pastor’s initiative to seek a solution such as an Executive Pastor.

The literature shows difficulty at first identifying the Executive Pastor function. As time progressed, the term and role became clearer, especially as the large church and megachurch became commonplace.

The megachurch accelerated the change within the church staff. The sheer size of the megachurch, with a minimum of eighteen hundred worshippers and thirteen fulltime staff members, brought new and larger issues to the Senior Pastor. In response, the Senior Pastor and governing board added the Executive Pastor to manage the church and ministry.

Section Summary

Concerning the growth of the position of Executive Pastor, this section has brought forth the causative factors relevant to the Preaching Pastor and church growth. The centrality of preaching is a dominant theme in the American church, and so brought pressures on the pastor when the pastor was also expected to do other ministerial and management functions in the church. The growth of the church added further pressures to the pastor, giving wide use to the title Senior Pastor. The change was accelerated by the rapid growth of the megachurch.

The pastor began to feel awed by his burgeoning responsibilities. The church and position grew and spawned the Senior Pastor. The Senior Pastor felt overawed by the centrality of preaching, the challenge of the ubermensch-like job description, and the need for executive ability. The megachurch arose and the pastor felt the difficulty even more.  Like the anonymous megachurch pastor, many pastors felt as if they were riding a wild tiger, afraid to continue or get off.

Aspects of the Executive Pastor Position

The causative factors demonstrated the need for the position of Executive Pastor. While the case studies later in this dissertation cover specific functions of several Executive Pastors, this section examines some aspects of the role. This section discusses the literature pertinent to when an Executive Pastor is needed, models of church structure and biblical patterns. How the Executive Pastor serves the Senior Pastor is examined.  The make-up of both Executive and Pastor is seen, as well as how the Executive Pastor implements vision. The section concludes with a presentation of the perils of the Executive Pastor.

Discovering the Need

The extant literature presents material on how to discover when an Executive Pastor is needed in a local congregation. Wes Kiel, in his unpublished article that was used in three Leadership Network forums in the early 1990’s, wrote about the early signs of when to hire an Executive Pastor:

When a church moves from having one staff member to two or three there are obviously significant changes in the way the church is administered. However, such changes are usually not the changes in kind which are required at the point where a church has a staff of 7 or 8 or more full time program people and several part time staff members as well.

The small church can be visualized by an organizational chart:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

The next size church in Kiel’s quote can be visualized by a simplified chart:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

A managerial shift is needed with a larger staff. When there is managerial tension, this is an early sign of needing an Executive Pastor. Ken Godevenos, an independent management consultant, articulated a similar line of thinking:

Your church is growing. The Senior Pastor has several professional and support staff to supervise but admits he is neither a manager nor an administrator. The church programs are growing in number. The church board is trying its best to move to the Carver Model of Governance and only provide guidance while the staff runs the church.

If all or some of these statements ring true for your church, an Executive Pastor (EP) might be the answer.

This can be reduced to the following:

  • The staff need more than the Senior Pastor can give.
  • The ministries of the church are growing and adding complexity to management.
  • The governing board is moving to a governance model (discussed later in this chapter), so that staff run the church.

This points to not just the managerial issues of a larger staff, but the ministerial complexity brought by the added activity of those extra staff members.

From his research of more than sixty churches in fifteen states, Wes Kiel expands this concept:

My research would indicate that, as a general rule, the churches who have implemented this position in the last 10 or 15 years have done so when the staff of the church has reached 6 to 10 full time positions or the equivalent in part time and full time staff persons. It is therefore the size of the staff (and the program) more than the size of the congregation which most directly leads to the establishment of the role or hiring of the person to fill it.

The size of the church is not the determining factor in hiring an Executive Pastor. An optimum time to look for an Executive Pastor is when the church has six to ten full time staff and when the Senior Pastor realizes a new management model is needed. The Senior Pastor should realize the staff size is too large for the preacher to lead and also preach every week.  The governing board should be ready to delegate more management authority to staff.

In Godevenos’ online article, he suggests the scope of the role: “To implement the ministry vision of the senior pastor and church board through the management of operations and programs as well as the supervision of staff.” Ted Engstrom, though not necessarily speaking of the Executive Pastor, discusses a pastor with the gift of administration:

How would a person with the personal gift of administration function as a pastor? What sort of church organization would he set up? Where would his primary emphases lie?

Such a pastor would probably major in providing a well-organized, smooth-running organization, with every phase and department carried out and functioning with decency and order.

Wes Kiel has a complimentary finding: “The reason most frequently given by lay persons for encouraging the employment of an executive pastor is the lack of time or giftedness for administration on the part of the senior pastor.” The type of person who is a good candidate for the position of Executive Pastor is one who has the organizational and administrative ability to manage a large staff, with many of those staff members being trained professionals and holding a Masters degree in theology.

Whereas the limited scope of the Associate Pastor and Business Administrator served the church as it grew, there was a change needed in management as the church grew. The overloaded job description of the Senior Pastor needs to be pared. One such church was Santa Cruz Bible Church.  In 2003, Santa Cruz realized the burgeoning requirements of a Senior Pastor were onerous and a change was needed. On Santa Cruz Bible Church’s Teaching Pastor Search page, the church recently posted the following item:

Teaching Pastor—Position Profile—General Information

This is a new position created by separating the previous Senior Pastor role into two positions: the Teaching Pastor and the Executive Pastor. Both the Teaching Pastor and the Executive Pastor will serve as Elders and report directly to the Elder Board. The Teaching Pastor will be the lead preacher with responsibility for the pulpit ministry, and supervise the staff in the worship and tech areas.

The structure of this can be represented as:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

The church has gone so far as to eliminate the hierarchal adjectival Senor in the title, replacing it with the verbal noun Teaching. The Teaching Pastor oversees only staff related to the public persona of the preacher in the worship service. The Executive Pastor oversees all other staff and manages the church. As both pastors are peers and report to the Board, this will make some clergy and governing boards uncomfortable.

Wes Kiel gives a once-over of the responsibilities the church management requirements once it has seven or eight staff:

At this point the coordination, supervision, and management of the staff so that all are contributing toward the larger goal, pulling in the same direction, doing their share of the work, having access to their share of the resources, experiencing a sense of being cared for and important and given the opportunity to use their gifts in the most fitted slot, becomes a large and very necessary task.

The church needs an Executive Pastor when it needs a gifted administrator and leader, when the staff grows numerically beyond the managerial capacity of the Senior Pastor, when there is ministerial complexity due to the scope of the work by the staff, and when the governing board is ready to empower the staff by functioning in a governance model.

Models of Church Structure

Before one can discuss models of management in the church, it is necessary to discuss the role of management. This will help in evaluating the role and scope of the church leadership. In other words, What are we asking the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor to do?

Drucker tackles the difficult task of defining management: “Top-Management tasks differ fundamentally from the tasks of other management groups. They are multidimensional. They are recurrent but intermittent. They make different and often conflicting demands on personality and temperament.” Later in his work Drucker also says:

Top-management function is singularly difficult to organize. Every one of the tasks is a recurrent task. It needs to be done over and over again. But very few of them, if any, are continuous tasks. Very few of them have to be done every day from nine to five. When they arise, they are of crucial importance to the enterprise.  They are true ‘life and death’ decisions.

In the church structure with an Executive Pastor and Senior Pastor, there must be the ability to determine and decide on critical issues. There must be an adequate management structure to allow the two pastors to interact together and with the governing board. Drucker later continues on the same subject:

Top-management work is work for a team rather than for one man. It is quite unlikely that any one man will, in his own power, unite the divergent temperaments which the job requires.  Moreover, it will be found, when the top-management tasks are analyzed, that there is more work to be done than any one man can do.

This fits well with the concept that the Executive Pastor works to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor, as there is team effort in the huge challenge. In 1974, Schaller shed light on this concept as it applies to the church:

One indication of a limited recognition of this distinction is that several hundred congregations and a few denominational agencies employ one person to fill the pastor-leader role and another individual to fill the manager or administrator role. The distinction is far more widely recognized in business and government, where thousands of organizations have a politician (pastor)-leader type in the top position and a manager in the number two slot in the organization.

This can be conveyed in a simplified diagram:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

Schaller brings the essence of Drucker’s views into the church, although his work was too early to use the term Executive Pastor. Twenty-five years after Schaller’s publication of The Decision Makers, Bill Lawrence writes on a similar theme. By 1999, Lawrence evidences the existence of the Executive Pastor role and shows how it integrates with the Senior Pastor:

Staff shepherding and leadership is draining for the pastor who seeks to build elders, stay in touch with the congregation, develop vision, plan and evaluate the ministry, as well as serve his family effectively. In view of these demands, the pastor needs to be protected from losing vital study and sermon preparation time by excessive administrative demands. When the church is large enough, a pastor can protect his central functions of preaching and leadership while fulfilling his pastoral duties by delegating staff management to a trusted associate or executive pastor subject to the elders’ approval.

An organizational chart for Lawrence’s position can be constructed:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

This is functionally similar to Schaller’s model, as earlier noted, except that the Elder Board is inserted above the pastor.

In this literature, the top management of the church has two pastors, one for preaching and another for managing. The top management team is focused on the critical decisions of the church. The church needs a management structure that will enable top management to make critical decisions.

There are many varieties of management structure. As this work is on the Executive Pastor, this essay will not canvass all of them, but only a selected few.  Judy, as an author before the rise of the Executive Pastor, comments: “In hundreds of churches that have been studied in preparation for this writing, the only situations discovered where authority was not assigned to the senior minister were in team ministries or where there was an administrator-pastor.” However, while this seems to be a team ministry with both pastors reporting to the governing board, Judy continues:

In the few churches in the study where there is an administrative pastor, or a person who fills a similar position, the senior minister is looked to for policy formulation and final decisions. He may be somewhat remote from the members of the staff, and immediate contacts for direction may be received from the administrative pastor, but the senior minister is still at the controls.

This can be conveyed in a simplified diagram:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

Judy represents a delegated authority to the Administrative Pastor, still reporting to a managing Senior Pastor. Judy’s managing pastor model is one management method.

Schaller outlines nine models of church management structure, three of which are pertinent to this discussion on the Executive Pastor:

  1. The academic model. In this model the senior minister functions in a role similar to the president of the four year liberal arts college and is the symbol of the institution. Other staff members lead their own departments with a high degree of autonomy.
  2. The military model. In this model the senior minister is the commander and the executive minister corresponds to the executive officer. Much of the oversight for both program and administration is delegated to the executive minister.
  3. The team of specialists model. … One of the basic responsibilities of the senior minister, in addition to preaching and recruiting highly competent staff members, is to keep this array of specialists moving in the same direction toward a common goal at approximately the same pace.

The Leadership Network convocation of Senior Pastors and Executive Pastors indicated a model quite similar to Schaller’s military model:

An Executive Pastor (other terms include Staff Director, Executive Director or similar) is deployed to oversee a large percentage of the staff, including the Administrative pastor. In this case, the Executive Pastor operates like the Executive officer of a ship, handling much of the day-to-day operations and programs. This person is an integral part of the Leadership/Management team of the church. This person will also usually have pastor/shepherd gifts. Some of the other metaphors include pilot as Executive Pastor with Senior Pastor as Navigator. In corporate language, some see the role as CEO for Pastor and COO for Executive Pastor.

This can be viewed with the following representation:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

This type of Executive Pastor is seen at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas. In a cover story for Church Executive magazine, the Executive Pastor of this four thousand member church asserts that “I believe the role of the executive pastor is to keep all the different specialties in the body on track and make sure that all the cogs of the machine are working and meshing together to bring some forward movement.”

Drucker, in the context of for-profit business, presents another model that could be applied to an Executive Pastor in a church:

Or, to cite another fairly common structure, there may be a three- or four-man top, with each man carrying clearly assigned top-management responsibilities even though one man is definitely number one.  This is the structure which General Motors has had for fifty years—a chairman, a vice-chairman, a chairman of the executive committee, a president. What assignments each of these four men carries is then worked out to fit their personalities. But the four positions are permanent.

Drucker is clear to point out that the Chairman is “definitely number one,” yet his model has a stronger management team than Judy’s strong-pastor model. Drucker’s General Motor’s model can be applied to the church, as was done at Santa Cruz Bible Church:

(To view org chart, please see original PDF below article)

As previously stated, some in church management will not approve of the strong board approach to the issue of hierarchy. However, this dissertation is not in a place to suggest a preference on the management model as that is the work for another study.

Even with the growing pressures on the Preaching Pastor, it is interesting that the church so quickly embraced a mix of manager and clergy in one person of the Executive Pastor. Professor Hart notes the marketplace nature of Christianity:

The cumulative effect of revivalist-styled Christianity was to take the faith away from the institutional church and give it to the people.  Christianity was a religion to be practiced in the marketplace, the home, and statehouse, not something to be confined to the church, under the control of the clergy.

Perhaps in the church with an Executive Pastor, one sees the full circle of Christianity being practiced from church to marketplace, and back to church. Christianity goes into the marketplace and comes back with an executive function for the church.

In this section, various models of management have been presented from extant literature: Judy’s RemotePolicy-Controlling-Pastor, Leadership Network’s Captain-Navigator-Pastor, Schaller’s PoliticianLeader-Pastor and Santa Cruz’s Strong-Board-Teaching-Pastor model. The case studies will show examples of several of these models. The Executive Pastor can function within each of the models and will have a job description dynamically shaped by the model.

Biblical Parallels

There are at least three significant biblical pericope that demonstrate roles parallel to the Executive Pastor. Two individuals, and one group, were in the place of implementing the policy and vision of others.

The position that Joseph was given under Pharaoh parallels the Executive Pastor. Genesis records that:

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’ … He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, ‘Make way!’ Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. (Gen. 41:39-40, 43)

The definition of the Executive Pastor is one who implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board. Joseph is similar that he implemented God’s vision given to Pharaoh of the grains of wheat.

The definition of Executive Pastor also includes the implementation of policy. Joseph implemented the policies of Pharaoh by gathering wheat into storehouses for seven years. Joseph was the manager of the palace and its workers, just as many Executive Pastors oversee the entire church staff. Joseph was identified by Pharaoh as the second-in-command, a common feature to Executive Pastors. Joseph was in charge of the whole land, just as many Executive Pastors are in charge of the whole church. The people did not confuse Joseph with Pharaoh, just as congregants rarely confuse the Executive Pastor with the Senior Pastor. While few would equate the Senior Pastor with Pharaoh, it has recently been done in a humorous Youth Voice poem selection by Micah McKee.

A second figure in the Bible that shows biblical patterns for the Executive Pastor is Moses. In the book of Exodus, God instructs Moses that he can use Aaron as an assistant as needed:

Moses said to the LORD, ‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ But Moses said, ‘O Lord, please send someone else to do it.’

Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses and he said, ‘What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it.’ (Exo. 4:10-17)

This passage indicates that Aaron will be the mouthpiece for Moses.  A few chapters later, Aaron is recorded as the spokesman: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country.’ … Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.” (Exo. 7:1-2).

The main fact to be observed from the relationship between Moses and Aaron is that the younger brother was the leader. The book of Exodus is clear that Moses was the chosen one to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Though Aaron is older by three years, he is the assistant to Moses.  Interestingly, few Senior Pastors would describe themselves as Moses did: “Moses said to the LORD, ‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue’” ( Exo. 4:10). Regardless of the cultural differences of who is the spokesman, Aaron was to assist Moses. Moses was the spiritual leaders, as is the Senior Pastor in the modern church. In a similar fashion, many Executive Pastors assist the spiritual leaders of the churches in which they serve.

Later in the book of Exodus, Jethro recommends to Moses that he delegate leadership functions. Moses is overworking himself and needs help:

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?’ Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.’

Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.  Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.’ (Exo. 18:14-21)

Moses as the spiritual leader has incorrectly concluded that he must intervene in every judicial decision. Jethro recommends a delegation of authority to competent judges, allowing for complex cases to rise in the hierarchy. In a similar fashion, the Executive Pastor is delegated authority, freeing the Senior Pastor to focus on issues that have significance for the entire church.

There are also similarities between the role of the Executive Pastor and Daniel. There are parallels between Daniel and two of the kings under which he served:

The king said to Daniel, ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.’ Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court. (Dan. 2:47-49)

Daniel was placed in a high position, just as many Executive Pastors are in important positions in the church. Daniel was a ruler under the King, just as many Executive Pastors manage the church. Daniel oversaw wise men, just as many Executive Pastors serve as Chief of Staff. Later in Daniel’s life the Bible records:

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. (Dan. 6:1-3)

The same similarities and dissimilarities exist in the Daniel passages as do with Joseph. Daniel was appointed to carry out the vision and policy of the king.

One New Testament passage has similarities between the teaching and preaching role and the management of ministry. The pericope of Acts 6:1-4 shows a delegation of responsibility from the twelve apostles to seven men:

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’

This passage is often cited as a reference to the first appointment of Deacons, as the passage uses the Greek phrase διακoνεῖν τραπέζαις, to wait on tables.

The verb διακoνέω has a cognate noun, διάκoνoς, which can mean servant, helper, or Deacon as an official of the church. In his article on διακoνέω, Kittle cites Holtzmann and brings together both the verb and noun:

In a rather wider sense διακoνεῖν τραπέζαις means ‘to supervise the meal’ in Acts 6:2: διακoνεῖν τραπέζαις. The reference is not merely to the provision of food but to the daily preparation and organisation. H. J. Holtzmann describes the men to whom this task was committed as organisers, dispensers and overseers of meals, τραπεζοποιοί. The τραπέζαις is brought into emphatic contrast with the διακονίᾳ τοῦ λόγου, and embraces practical love rather than the proclamation of the Word.

This demonstrates a parallel to the role of the Executive Pastor. The apostles focus on the ministry of the Word and the appointed men focus on the ministry of the Table.

Kittle and Holzmann focus on the man as “organisers, dispensers and overseers of meals,” resulting in practical love. This is akin to the Executive Pastor who organizes the ministry of the church, dispensing funds, and overseeing practical ministry. The Senior Pastor is in the model of the apostle, serving the Word to a hungry congregation.

Another parallel relates to the size of church. The role of Executive Pastor began in larger congregations. In Acts 2:41 the church grew by three thousand in one day and in Acts 4:4 the size of the church is given as five thousand men. This number was not static, as Acts 5:14 asserts; “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” The pericope of Acts 6 ends with a continuing of the growth theme; “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”  With five thousand men, one can assume a church of another five thousand women and fifteen thousand children.  This brings the total size of the church of Acts 4 in the range of twenty-five thousand people. The growth given in Acts 5 and 6 are difficult to quantify, except that it was rapid. Could the size of the church have been thirty, sixty or ninety thousand? What can be said is that the size was sufficient to require a delegation of responsibility away from the apostles. This parallels the role of the Executive Pastor where the church is of sufficient size to delegate church management to someone other than the Senior Pastor.

The relationship between Acts 6 and the Executive Pastor has disjuncture on several significant points. In Acts 6, there are men who are appointed to a church function. In the role of the Executive Pastor, generally there is one person appointed to manage the church. In Acts 6, the emphasis is on serving tables, hardly a term easily applied to managing the church. The scope in Acts 6 seems to be limited, or if not limited then not defined as broader.

A significant parallel in Acts 6 is the delegation of responsibility from the spiritually governing body to others. The one doing the appointing is greater than the one being appointed. The one appointed is accountable for the office back to the appointers. The apostles gave authority to the appointed ones to manage the tables. The apostles preferred to concentrate on their primary responsibility and delegated other jobs so as to maintain focus. The governing board delegates responsibility to the Executive Pastor so that it can focus on other tasks.

As with the Old Testament passages, in Acts 6 there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the original texts and the Executive Pastor. Rather, it is enough to say that there are significant parallels to the role of the Executive Pastor. These parallels give theological significance to the position of the Executive Pastor and help see that the role has biblical heritage. In the Old and New Testament, there are three pericope that demonstrate roles parallel to the Executive Pastor. Two individuals and one group had delegated responsibility to manage and implement policy and vision.

Serving the Senior Pastor

In almost all of the management models previously presented, the Executive Pastor served under the Senior Pastor. The only exception to this was the Strong-Board-Teaching-Pastor model of Santa Cruz Bible Church. The Leadership Network Convocation of Senior and Executive Pastors in 1999 indicated that many Executive Pastors serve the Senior Pastor:

Who does the Executive Pastor serve? In our view, the Executive Pastor primarily serves the Senior Pastor. The Senior Pastor is looking for a person to help guide the overall direction and function of the church in leadership. For this reason, the Executive Pastor’s gifts and competencies must complement the Senior Pastor. This means that the Senior Pastor must clearly define for them what they need in an Executive Pastor. They should then examine what gifts are missing and needed. The Senior Pastor will have adaptations to make but the Executive Pastor must adapt to play to the Senior Pastor’s strengths.

The degree to which the Executive Pastor serves the Senior Pastor may vary from church to church. The Executive Pastor Indicator, as presented in the next chapter and in the case studies, helps churches define this issue.

The type of relationship between Executive and Senior Pastor is challenging, as Verla Gillmor writes in a recent article in Christianity Today:

Executive Pastor Greg Hawkins runs Willow Creek day to day and functions as Hybels’s second in command. Although Hybels is the boss, ‘There’s a level of frankness and candor that people might find hard to believe,’ Hawkins says. ‘People take huge risks to say things to each other. We talk about our marriages, our kids, who we’re praying for to accept Christ, what we’re personally struggling with. We talk about any issues that are in the way of our relationships with each other.’

This area, the service role of the Executive Pastor, needs further work and evaluation. What does it mean for the Executive Pastor to serve the Senior Pastor? Is this terminology helpful or condescending? What are the practical ramifications of an effective partnership? Perhaps a future researcher can explore this important area.

The Pastoral Function

Two terms are juxtaposed in the title Executive Pastor. How does the Executive Pastor fill the role of Pastor? There are several ways to validate whether one serves as a pastor or minister. For the purposes of taxation, the Internal Revenue Service produced an official definition for the government of the United States:

Ministers are individuals who are duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed by a religious body constituting a church or church denomination. They are given the authority to conduct religious worship, perform sacerdotal functions, and administer ordinances or sacraments according to the prescribed tenets and practices of that church or denomination.

If a church or denomination ordains some ministers and licenses or commissions others, anyone licensed or commissioned must be able to perform substantially all the religious functions of an ordained minister to be treated as a minister for social security purposes.

While it may seem unusual to begin with a working definition from the Internal Revenue Service, it has merit as it is not bound by denominational language. From a tax perspective, to be considered a minister, the individual must be able to substantially perform all functions of an ordained minister. It does not mean the man or woman has to perform the duties, only that he or she is empowered to perform a significant amount of them.

By this definition, an ordained office manager may not be considered a minister if the person is not empowered to serve as a minister. A facilities manager might be considered and called a minister if the manager was empowered to perform religious duties and serves the administration of the church. The qualification is not one of training, but of job description and empowerment. Percentages of time are not given, but it is expected that the Executive Pastor will regularly perform some of the following pastoral functions: weddings, funerals, communion, teaching, preaching, training, counseling, prayer, church discipline, discipleship, and hospital visitation.

The Executive Pastor by title is considered a Pastor. By common job function, as will be seen in the case studies, the Executive Pastor is a shepherd to the entire congregation. Dave Travis of Leadership Network gives insight:

What is the actual role we need? Decide if you are talking about an Administrative Pastor or an Executive Pastor. These are some of the titles used to distinguish between roles. Most commonly, an Administrative Pastor, or Church Business Administrator, is deployed to oversee the areas of the church such as facilities, finances, support teams, etc. This person may or may not be on the Leadership/Management team of the Church. This person may or may not have pastor/shepherd gifts.

As Travis notes, the Business Administrator, even if considered a pastor, need not have the pastor gifts, but the Executive Pastor should. The Executive Pastor may call on and pray for the sick, as well as disciple members and lead training classes. A significant function is that the Executive Pastor is the shepherd to the ministerial staff.

As will be seen in the case studies, Executive Pastors are members, or meet with, the governing body, whether it be Elder or Deacon. Others serve on a Board of Trustees or other managing board. They fill the pulpit to some degree, whether through a preaching ministry when the Senior Pastor is away or with significant congregational announcements.  Executive Pastors serve in the ἐπίσκoπoς function of overseeing ministry, as previously discussed. Bob Feitl comments:

To be successful, the executive pastor must have a happy marriage of diverse spiritual gifts. He has learned to combine the gifts of leadership and pastoring.  Leadership alone can feel cold, and yet at the heart of pastoring needs to be the desire to lead the flock to the next and better pasture. He has also married the gifts of administration and faith. Administration by itself is easily overwhelmed by process and procedure, and faith needs to arrive to balance the machinery.

Thus, by both legal description and common practice, the Executive Pastor is a shepherd to the congregation.

The Executive Function

The literature has shown that the role of Pastor is a part of the position of Executive Pastor. The role of Executive also needs definition. Yet, what constitutes an executive? Peter Drucker is of assistance, as his 1974 book on management shaped the for-profit world. His 1990 work, Managing the Nonprofit Organization, set an equal standard for churches. Drucker begins his chapter, Executive Decisions, by saying:

Executives, whether in a non-profit institution or in a business, actually spend little time on decision making. Far more of their time is spent in meetings, with people, or in trying to get a little information. Yet it’s in the decision that everything comes together. That is the make or break point of the organization. Most of the other tasks executives do, other people could do. But only executives can make the decisions. And they either make decisions effectively or they render themselves ineffective.

The least effective decision makers are the ones who constantly make decisions. The effective ones make very few. They concentrate on the important decisions.

If it is difficult to define the executive function, defining leadership is even more so. Ted Engstrom and Edward Dayton give insight:

What is leadership? No one seems to be really sure. We are able to define what managers do, but the closest we seem to be able to come to a broadly acceptable definition of leadership, is that which leaders do. Then when we try to define leader, about all the agreement we could get is that leaders lead.

Relating to Executive Pastors, they must be leaders. As leaders, people must be following them. Of course, this leads one to ask the question: If no one is following, is the person a leader?

Leadership and executive ability has historically been lacking from the forefront of seminary training, as Judy points out:

Their professional schooling has laid great emphasis upon professional discipline and a bare minimum of emphasis on executive training. Seminaries have been very slow in placing academic approval on training in church administration, leadership, church planning, and meaningful field education.

While is it helpful to see the difficulties with definitions and the lack of academic training, the issue still remains. What is the executive role?

Judy cites Crawford H. Greenwalt in his 1959 lectures to the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University. They are helpful in defining the executive function in the church:

The best that I can say the basic requirement of executive capacity is the ability to create a harmonious whole out of what the academic world calls dissimilar disciplines. This is a fancy way of saying that an executive is good when he can make a smoothly functioning team out of people with the many different skills required in the operation of a modern business.

Drucker continues his citation of Greenwalt, expanding on the smoothly functioning team: “His most important function is to reconcile, to coordinate, to compromise, and to appraise the various viewpoints and talents under direction to the end that each individual contributes his full measure to the business at hand.”

A man who has served as an Executive Pastor comments on this executive function of creating a smoothly functioning team. Experienced Executive Pastor Bob Feitl comments on how the Executive Pastor should lead:

Organizations frequently manage complexity by planning, budgeting, organizing and staffing. But the executive pastor must lead by matching people with their gifts and passions. Managing ensures that plans are accomplished by controlling and problem solving, but the executive pastor leads through a process of coaching, motivating, inspiring, affirming, and empowering.

In practical terms, the church executive must create a harmonious whole out of dissimilar ministries such as Men’s, Women’s, Single’s, and Outreach. The Executive Pastor makes critical decisions to implement vision and policy through staff and volunteers.

Drucker raised the issue of making critical decisions and these can be difficult. Pastor Leith Anderson comments on the challenge of executive decisions about staff:

Sometimes correction is not enough. Peter Drucker believes that every time an organization doubles in size, half its leaders become obsolete for their positions. I’ve asked Wooddale’s leadership, ‘We had X number of people in our worship service last Sunday. If you want to double that number, at least half of us will not be competent to lead a church of that size.’

The Executive Pastor must be able to help create a harmonious whole, even when changing circumstances stretch, and perhaps grow beyond, the ministers on the church staff.

Of major importance to the Executive Pastor is the ability to delegate. A large church can easily have twenty ministers and thirty to fifty support staff. Delegation is essential. In his chapter, entitled Delegate! Max De Pree says:

Delegation is one way of dealing with the increasing complexity in organizations. Obviously one reason to delegate is to get the work done, done well and done on time. It seems to me that this goal is impossible to meet—that is impossible for a modern-day organization to reach its potential—until through delegation a leader brings to bear the diverse gifts of many individuals.

The Executive Pastor delegates in order to utilize the diverse gifts of the church staff. De Pree continues later, “… as the complexity of organized life increases, delegation is our only real hope. I don’t know of any alternative. There simply isn’t a better way to skin a cat than by capitalizing on the human gifts that come to an organization.” The only hope of “riding the wild tiger” is to delegate tasks to competent staff.

There is a great deal written on the differences between managers and leaders. Schaller asserts: “The leader is primarily concerned with his relationships with people, whereas the manager must also be conscious of the behavior patterns of institutions and organizations.” Alan Nelson, in talking about launching a church in Scottsdale, Arizona, and as the former Executive Pastor at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene in Bethany, Oklahoma, writes: “Management is the process whereby an organization is maintained and inherent structures are perpetuated. A manager is a trained person whose primary responsibility is to maintain the existing structure of an organization.” From these sources, leadership has more to do with moving people to the next level, while management has to do with the ongoing structure of the church.

Ken Gangel offers a multifaceted view of management and ministry. He brings what some might call a compromise position, but it may be better seen as a realistic acknowledgement that some specific definitions are situational: “The model we seek in these chapters parallels the biblical model of the Christian leader as both shepherd and overseer, ministering elder and chief executive officer, team captain and supervisor. We want to resist conflict between management and ministry.” He adds that there are four tasks of administrators: planning and goal achievement; leadership and supervision of staff; organization and control; and delegation and motivation. Although he has rolled many terms into one definition, it well summarizes the multidimensional challenge of the local church. The Executive Pastor needs to administer and manage the church with the governing board’s policy, while simultaneously leading by implementing the Senior Pastor’s vision.

Once it has been decided that an Executive Pastor is needed in a church to manage and lead, areas of responsibility need to be determined. Dave Travis asserts from his Leadership Network research:

Who does what? One of the best ideas developed from the focus group came from a church that sat down with their board and wrote a three column statement of what was needed from the Senior Pastor, the Executive Pastor and the Board. It is not a static document, as needs change, adjustments are made. The process is unique for each church and team and it cannot be static. We are often asked for sample job descriptions. Because of the unique nature of each congregation, we feel this process of clarification of roles is the best way to design each description to fit the team.

Travis presents the healthy use of the individuality of each congregation to determine the specific job descriptions needed.

Part of the job description should include the visible leadership of the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor. This is easily observed in the staff meeting. Rather than a dogmatic view on this issue, Travis suggests a situational answer:

Who leads Staff meeting? This type of decision is an example of the numerous issues that Senior Pastors and Executive Pastors need to clarify. In some cases the Senior Pastor continues to lead the bulk of the staff meeting. In other cases, the Executive Pastor takes over primary leadership. In still yet others, there is shared leadership. Each should clarify these issues with each other.

The issue behind running the staff meeting is the communication of expectations and desires by the Senior and Executive Pastors. Kilinski and Wofford address the issue of staff leadership in one of the first references to an Executive Pastor in their 1973 work:

The leadership of the staff should be the direct responsibility of the pastor unless the size of the church allows for an executive pastor who would be responsible for the task. The goal of the staff leader should be to produce an espirit de corps.  This is what makes staff a team rather than an organization.

The same goal of spirit de corps must exist between the Senior and Executive Pastors, and then can be modeled to the rest of the ministerial and support staff.

On a practical level, management involves establishing procedures for the church. The scope of oversight for procedures can range from overseeing the employee manual to how youth volunteer background checks are performed. In a Seattle Times article dealing with a member of Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington, who was accused of child molestation: “‘The suspect has been a youth volunteer and member of Overlake since 1998,’ said Dana Erickson, the church’s Executive Pastor.” The Executive Pastor needs to oversee those procedures that he will be held accountable for by the church, community and media. The Executive Pastor must ensure that the church has adequate policies and procedures for dealing with the management of the church and ministry.

Management also generally includes overseeing the finances of the church. Even if there is a Business Administrator, Chief Financial Officer or other such person in place, the Executive Pastor often oversees the staff member. In some churches, the Executive Pastor is responsible to the governing board for church finances. In other churches, there is a Finance Committee that reports independently to the governing board. Executive Pastors often become involved in budget formulation and financial planning. An example of necessary financial planning is in churches where a large percentage of church income is received in the month of December. As reported in USA today: “Ron Bowen, Executive Pastor for Reston Bible Church in Reston, Virginia, says the 2,500-member church counts on 15% of its $4 million budget to arrive in December …” The Executive Pastor must ensure that someone is doing careful management to plan for cash flow. Financial management also means staying away from scandal—as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod learned with their foundation funds.

Leadership and management often converge on the Executive Pastor in a building project. Grace Church of Edina, Minnesota, is undertaking a $48 million new building on sixty-two acres of bluff overlooking the Minnesota River, as reported in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul: “It has a 4,500 seat auditorium, coffee shop and bookstore, $1.7 million in audio-visual equipment, baseball and soccer fields, and a video arcade.” As seems to be a growing trend, the Executive Pastor was the spokesman:

‘We want to be welcoming to people who might not consider themselves religious,’ said Rev. Jim Rightler, executive pastor. The congregation hopes to entice people who want some kind of spiritual home but who don’t identify with a particular denomination and who might avoid a building that looked like a traditional church.

Ken Geis, Executive Pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is cited in another Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul article for the intentionality in the campus layout, featuring a two thousand-seat worship space on thirty-two acres. Church of the Open Door, another church in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is cited in the same article for their careful architectural planning:

Design: With a curving two-story-high steel canopy and tall glass walls, Open Door looks more like a new airport terminal in a mid-sized city than a church. That’s intentional, said Executive Pastor Keith Meyer: ‘We don’t want to hide the fact that we’re a church. But we want it to be a place where people don’t have as much baggage.

Behind the architectural plans is the vision of the Senior Pastor and governing board, a vision for how to reach the community surrounding the church.  These are prime examples of the Executive Pastor implementing the vision of the Senior Pastor and applying it to new construction.

Implementing Policy and Vision

The hypothesis in this dissertation is that the Executive Pastor implements the policy of the governing body and vision of the Senior Pastor. As Dave Travis asserts:

Most Executive pastors have to adapt to both situations. They must learn to translate the Pastor’s vision and direction and focus the organization and resources towards that vision and direction. They must learn to give the Senior Pastor appropriate feedback from the staff team. Basically, the role must over communicate with both pastor and the rest of the team.

Although Travis succinctly introduces the Executive Pastor implementing the vision of the Senior Pastor, not all agree with this role.

In 1997, Harold Westing wrote about ministry teams. His model seems to exclude the Executive Pastor: “The senior pastor should serve as the chairperson of the selection committee (if you choose to use the committee approach). He should have a strong say about the final selection, because their personalities and goals must be compatible.” While this seems commendable for the Senior Pastor to be so involved, and it may be possible with a staff of five to eight ministers, it would become onerous with a staff of more than ten ministers and impossible with more than twenty. It is better to assume that the Senior Pastor will be involved only in the selection of selected key staff, such as the management team or core vision team.

Westing is aware, however, of the functions of the Executive Pastor, such as the role of Chief of Staff:

The chief of staff must orchestrate all the various ministries. This leader should realize that his or her ability is greatly enhanced through the team. The senior pastor or executive pastor will not only orchestrate major ministry objectives, but also coordinate the week-by-week details of the church calendar. … Someone needs to serve as the coach of the team to avoid loopholes and conflicts.

Again, the reader should carefully examine Westing’s views in context, as they include both the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor. It may be expecting too much of a Senior Pastor in a church with a large staff to implement major ministry objectives.

Bob Feitl writes further about the Executive Pastor implementing the vision of the Senior Pastor:

Unfortunately, in many churches the vision design, development, and deployment, by necessity rests in one individual, the senior pastor. But in the emerging mega-churches of the last twenty years, a new role of partner with the PVC (primary vision caster) is the PVI (primary vision implementer) or executive pastor. …

This is a key point because, in the mega-church today, it is the executive pastor through his combined pastor/leadership role who puts feet to the vision to assure that its execution is consistent with the goals and objectives articulated by the PVC. However, it is first and foremost a leadership role, and not a management function.

The Executive Pastor not only implements the vision of the Senior Pastor but also the policies of the governing board. What are the policies of the governing board? One of the great contributors to the area of nonprofit governing boards and policy is John Carver. He gives assistance in defining terms:

Policy is an apt and familiar word for us to employ when referring to organizational values and perspectives … Conventionally, policy has referred to any board utterance. Policy sometimes means procedures, as in personnel ‘policies.’ Policy can refer to unstated as well as explicit values and perspectives.

This definition, like Ken Gangel’s about management and ministry, is helpful because it contains a breadth that allows for regional and denominational variation. While there are timeless principles of biblical leadership, the application of those principles results in situational leadership.

The role of the Executive Pastor is to take the principles and policies of the governing body and implement them in the life of the church.

Associated Perils in the Position

A discussion of the role and function of the Executive Pastor would be incomplete without mentioning associated perils. This section will be especially helpful for any Senior Pastor, governing board or search committee seeking an Executive Pastor. Hans Finzel writes: “CEOs, senior pastors, and founders place huge amounts of personal effort into building their corporations. It is an investment that is hard to let go of, much like letting go of children when they leave the nest.” Pastor James MacDonald tells of his realization of his own micromanaging:

Participants were promised anonymity and access to the full report (with no edits) in a large-group forum.

For three months we waited while he did the interviews and wrote his report. …

But then I came to the section titled ‘Senior Management Style.’ There, before my eyes, were criticisms I could not dismiss: ‘There’s too much micromanaging going on,’ ‘More delegation is needed from the top,’ ‘The executive pastor is empowered to a certain extent, but the senior pastor has ultimate authority.’

The Executive Pastor may face a peril from a Senior Pastor who has given intellectual assent to let go of managing the organization, but has not effectively dealt with the emotional issues.

Change can be difficult, especially for the first Executive Pastor. It can be a challenge to inaugurate the role in a local church:

Who makes the biggest adjustments? Everyone has to make adjustments once this position is implemented. The Senior Pastors feel they have to make big adjustments in their work style with the staff. Senior Pastors tend to continue to over function in a supervisory type role with other staff during the transition period.

The staff has to adjust to working with an Executive Pastor as the team leader. Many long-term staff may say, ‘I came to work with the Senior Pastor not this person.’ The role of Executive Pastor requires strong but gentle leadership.

There can be expectations from the staff to be with the Senior Pastor and may resent the new Executive Pastor.

Another peril arises when sufficient responsibility and power is withheld from a newly installed Executive Pastor. In the third edition of the book by Kouzes and Posner, the authors are bluntly aware of this peril: “Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power: we become most powerful when we give our own power away. For example, the late Major General John Stanford told us that ‘we don’t get our power from our stars and our bars. We get power from the people we lead.’” The Senior Pastor and governing board will be more effective if they can delegate to the Executive Pastor. If the governing board and Senior Pastor are unable to “get power from the Executive Pastor that they lead,” then the position will fail. Returning to Hans Finzel, he presents many reasons why leaders can’t let go: job security, fear of retirement, love of the job, resistance to change, self-worth, lack of confidence in a successor, love for the people and loss of investment.

Just as the Executive Pastor must be able to delegate, so he must receive responsibility from the Senior Pastor and governing board. De Pree is speaking from his experience as Chairman of Herman-Miller when he writes, and due to its importance deserves to be block quoted:

While good delegation requires a form of dying, it is also the only way for leaders to stay alive.

Giving away power, delegating to another, can feel like dying. Yet by dying, one can have new life.

From the perspective of the Executive Pastor, there are perils as well.  Wes Kiel notes:

The first set of experiences which need to be looked at are those attendant to the executive pastor’s relationship to the senior pastor. This set is first because it is these qualities more than any other which will determine whether or not the association between the two will have a chance to work. Leading the pack is: loyalty. This quality is clearly the most important to senior pastors but it is also cited frequently by executive pastors. The leadership of the senior pastor must be recognized, supported and implemented.

Kiel, from his research, is quite strong on the aspect of loyalty. He also has data about why an Executive Pastor may fail:

The reasons given for such failures by executive pastors had a great deal in common; as did those given by senior pastors.

The reasons given by senior pastors tended to cluster around competence and compatibility. The lack of competence was often attributed to the Peter Principle—promotion one step beyond ability … A person who had been very effective in a particular staff position seemed a logical person to promote to executive pastor.

A peril from the congregation can come in the form of denying the need for planning and efficient management. There is a balance in the nonprofit world between the human factors of a mostly volunteer organization and the efficiency required of paid ministers and support staff. Harris notes that: “Opposition to ‘bureaucratic’ forms in churches can be linked with perceptions that there is an irreconcilable dichotomy between ‘efficiency,’ ‘effectiveness,’ ‘rationality,’ planning and systematic procedures on the one hand, and religious or ‘spiritual’ values on the other hand.”

Another peril for the Executive Pastor is if trust breaks down between the Executive and Senior Pastors. In a taped dialogue sent to all Willow Creek Association members, Senior Pastor Bill Hybels and Executive Pastor Greg Hawkins cite trust as key to an effective partnership in ministry. Dave Travis comments: “What is the key issue to making this work? By our experience, the key issue is a high level of trust between the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor. Those teams that don’t trust each other don’t last long. A key factor in trust building is constant, honest communication.” And later,

Do you seek a person within the organization or outside? The key issues are gifts and trust. We most often see that in an internal candidate. In some cases, the person may already be on the staff, have the gifts to serve as the leader, and have the trust of the Senior Pastor and Board. On many occasions the person is a lay member of the church with giftedness and the trust of the leadership to take on these responsibilities.

If a church goes outside the organization to find this person, make sure the gifts are there and there are seeds of trust. I have recommended that if a church is serious about an outside candidate, then the Senior Pastor and potential Executive Pastor spend several days together in a retreat, sharing their hearts, values and vision before any decision is made.

These scenarios assume that there was trust in the beginning of the relationship. On some occasions, this is not the case, as Wes Kiel writes:

In some cases the decision to employ an executive pastor has come at the suggestion or even the insistence of the governing board. If the resistance of the senior pastor to this change has been deeply rooted, then the early experience may well be unfavorable or at least uncomfortable.

One senior pastor gave as one of his reasons for eliminating the position of executive pastor the fact that the former senior pastor had the position forced on him by his board, resulting in an unhappy experience. Often the board has pushed such a proposition to save the senior pastor from burnout.

There are potential perils for the Executive Pastor. These can come from the Senior Pastor, the governing Board or congregation.

An interesting note from the convocation of Leadership Network Senior and Executive Pastors, as pertaining to trust with the Board: “The Board is also served in that many now feel they have a person to help carry out some of the functional work in the church. Most often both Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor attend Board meetings.”

Section Summary

As indicated by newspaper citations, the position of the Executive Pastor is common in many megachurches. As noted in the audiotape by Bill Hybels, small churches are beginning to use the position as well. This section has examined various models of the Executive Pastor. There are biblical examples of people who have implemented the vision and policy of others. The Executive Pastor has a function of serving the Senior Pastor, but that has wide latitude depending on the local situation.

In the title Executive Pastor is the word Pastor, and it was seen that the Executive Pastor does have pastoral roles in the church. Also in the title Executive Pastor is the word Executive, and it was seen that the Executive Pastor has executive functions in the church. The Executive Pastor is to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policy of the governing board. In terms of management, the Executive Pastor often makes critical decisions, oversees budget and finances, promotes a spirit de corps in the staff, and harmonizes dissimilar ministry disciplines. Finally in this section, various perils were examined relevant to the position.

In June, 2003, The Wall Street Journal announced that Fuller Seminary had launched a two hundred thousand dollar research project to canvass twelve hundred ministers about “what they think future students should learn, as well as what they themselves would like in further studies or in continuing education.” With the functional need of the Executive Pastor being demonstrated in these pages, and in the life of so many local congregations, perhaps future curricula will reflect the need to train men and women for executive functions in the church.

Chapter Conclusion

This chapter has reviewed pertinent literature about the Executive Pastor. This review examined the causative factors relative to the Preaching Pastor and to church growth. It was accepted that preaching has historic importance in the modern day American church. Other ministerial and managerial duties have broadened the pastor’s job description, causing tension. Causative factors relative to church growth stemmed from the position of the Senior Pastor, and possible solutions were seen in the Associate Minister and Business Manager. The rate of change was accelerated by the rapid growth of the megachurch.

Various aspects of the role of Executive Pastor were examined, including models for church structure. There were biblical patterns as well. Trust between the Executive Pastor and Senior Pastor was seen as imperative. The Executive Pastor serves the local congregation as both pastor and executive, implementing the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policy of the governing board. The chapter concluded by examining certain perils of the position.

The literature review provides the needed background for the Case Study Interview Questions and Indicator. The next chapter will discuss the methodology for the Case Studies. The literature review has demonstrated that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching.

Chapter 3—Research Procedure

Asking questions and getting answers is a much harder task than it may seem at first. The spoken or written word has always a residue of ambiguity, no matter how carefully we word the questions and how carefully we report or code the answers. Yet interviewing is one of the most powerful ways in which we try to understand our fellow human beings.

One of the great challenges in interviewing people about the function and role of the Executive Pastor is that of minimizing ambiguity in the questions and the answers. No two churches are exactly alike and an example is in governmental structure. One church may have elected-Elders and another appointed-Elders, yet both consider themselves Elder-led churches. Thus, the term Elder-led is ambiguous as to how the Elders came into office.

To accomplish the case studies, the process began with gathering existing data about each church. This consisted of such items as church brochures, policy manuals, constitutions and newspaper articles. This data-in-print only required the researcher to interpret the documents. The process continued with original research by asking verbal interview questions and completing a written instrument. The interview questions and instrument required the respondent to interpret the researcher’s question, followed by the researcher interpreting the respondent’s answer. In a minor way, this process resulted in Fontana and Frey’s residue of ambiguity. Even with a residue, the findings are stimulating, in the same manner as Fontana and Frey conclude: “Yet interviewing is one of the most powerful ways in which we try to understand our fellow human beings.”

The challenge to understand Executive Pastors was exacerbated by the dual aspect of the position, especially as seen in a variety of church settings. This study is of the executive united with the pastor. The executive seeks for the efficient working of a business and the pastor seeks the effective caring for the sheep. The dual aspects of the position are observed in a quote of Greenwalt:

The best that I can say the basic requirement of executive capacity is the ability to create a harmonious whole out of what the academic world calls dissimilar disciplines. This is a fancy way of saying that an executive is good when he can make a smoothly functioning team out of people with the many different skills required in the operation of a modern business.

The Executive Pastor creates a harmonious whole from dissimilar ministries, a smoothly functioning ministry team from members with various gifts. The job description of the for-profit executive may vary significantly between industries, such as automobile manufacture and software design. In a similar way, job descriptions may vary significantly between churches of different polity, theology, historical perspective and cultural setting. The challenge of research was to develop interview questions and instruments that allow for the breadth of various churches and Executive Pastors.

To meet the challenge of research, a qualitative analysis was chosen. Strauss is helpful in defining qualitative research with regard to its quantifying aspects:

Actually, the term ‘qualitative research’ is confusing because it can mean different things to different people. Some researchers gather data by means of interviews and observations, techniques normally associated with qualitative methods. However, they code the data in a manner that allows them to be statistically analyzed. They are, in effect, quantifying qualitative data. In speaking about qualitative analysis, we are referring not to the quantifying of qualitative data but rather to a nonmathmatical process of interpretation, carried out for the purpose of discovering concepts and relationships in raw data and then organizing these into a theoretical explanatory scheme.

The research in this dissertation fits Strauss’ definition of qualitative. Using Strauss’ terms, the interpreted data about Executive Pastors illumined concepts and then the data was organized into an explanatory scheme.

A qualitative data analysis can be challenging, as Taylor and Bogdan say: “The reason why so many people find qualitative data analysis so difficult is that it is not fundamentally a mechanical or technical process; it is a process of inductive reasoning, thinking, and theorizing.” As a qualitative analysis, the case study approach was chosen. Robert Stake defines the case study approach: “Case studies have become one of the most common ways to do qualitative inquiry, but they are neither new nor essentially qualitative. Case study is not a methodological choice but a choice of what is to be studied.” This study did not quantitatively canvass hundreds of Executive Pastors. It examined a limited number of Executive Pastors and their colleagues in the context of their local churches. Stake continues later with: “I call it instrumental case study if a particular case is examined mainly to provide insight into an issue or redraw a generalization.” This study is instrumental as it looks at a limited number of Executive Pastors so as to provide insight about the role of the Executive Pastor. Michael Patton comments on the in-depth nature of such a study:

The case study approach to qualitative analysis is a specific way of collecting, organizing, and analyzing data. The purpose is to gather comprehensive, systematic, and in-depth information about each case of interest. The starting point for case analysis, then, is making sure that the information for each case is as complete as possible.

Crosthwaite adds: “An appropriate niche for case study methods is research situations which deal with contemporary events in which behaviour of the people or systems at the centre of the research problem cannot be manipulated.” Thus, this research is qualitative, using the in-depth case study approach, so as to discover and organize concepts into an explanatory scheme.

Development of the Interview and Indicator

Two instruments were developed and used to obtain data for the case studies. One instrument queried the church, its history, polity and structure. This first instrument is a set of verbal interview questions. The second instrument is a written indicator and gives data on the role and function of the Executive Pastor. The development of the two instruments is summarized in three steps:

  • The first step was to develop verbal interview questions to probe a church’s history, polity and structure. A church was needed to be the development crucible for questions, called the Case Study Interview Questions (CS-IQ). Also agreeing to this was Steve Roese, Executive Pastor at Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas. The CS-IQ was tested with Senior Executive Pastor David Chavanne at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Based on the results from Irving and Stonebriar, the CS-IQ was honed and refined.
  • The second step was to develop a written-response indicator to probe the role and function of an Executive Pastor. Based on the CS-IQ results from Irving and Stonebriar, the Executive Pastor Indicator (XP-I) was developed. After initial testing, revisions were made. A web interface was developed and the XP-I was posted at www.xpastor.org.
  • The third step was to utilize the Executive Pastor Indicator with the case study churches. Through the web interface, the XP-I was given to numerous people in the case study churches. The XP-I was given to collected groups, such as: the Senior Pastor, the Executive Pastor, subordinate staff to the Executive Pastor, governing board members and committee members. The XP-I data was compiled based on the individual’s response and by group averages.

After the third step, individuals from various churches in the United States began to take the XP-Indicator. As almost one hundred individuals completed the indicator, the research could have become a quantitative analysis. The main body of research was kept qualitative and confined to the case study churches. Yet, the data from so many other churches and individuals confirmed the findings and is cited in this dissertation as applicable.

Definition of the Case Study Interview Questions

The first instrument to be developed was the Case Study Interview Questions (CS-IQ) and gives insight into the church’s history, polity and structure. It examines the functions and life of the church with spectrums as broad as governmental structure to ministry vision. The style of questions in the CS-IQ is unstructured. It opens opening avenues of discussion, as commented on by Fontana and Frey: “Unstructured interviewing can provide a greater breadth of data than the other types, given its qualitative nature.” In this light, the eight categories of questions served as a springboard into other issues that were significant to the church.

The Case Study Interview Questions were used in a personal interview format of at least ninety minutes. The primary respondent for the CS-IQ was the Executive Pastor. The answers of the Executive Pastor were compared to the written data provided by the church. If there was a need for clarification, a second interview was conducted. Should the case study have been based solely on the Executive Pastor’s answers to the CS-IQ, then the results would be mono-dimensional. The resultant data would only be the Executive Pastor’s view of the church. One could have used the CS-IQ to interview others in the church, such as a selection of perhaps five staff members, five congregants and five board members. However, this was not seen as a productive use of the respondent’s time, as a great deal of the information would be redundant from one person to another. Further, it is not the purpose of this dissertation to present the entire history and mission of each church. It is the purpose of this dissertation to examine the functional need of the Executive Pastor. For this reason, the Executive Pastor answered the CS-IQ and numerous people completed the written indicator about the Executive Pastor.

The first category of the CS-IQ is Background Data. This area includes self-descriptive public information from the church, such as brochures and annual reports. Various information items about the staff were requested, such as organizational charts and job descriptions of the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor. Management documents were requested, such as the Policy and Procedure Manual.  Financial information was requested, such as the church budget, audit report and auditor’s management letter. Information deemed relevant to a specific ministry was requested, such as a master plan for building. Some of the requested information might have been proprietary, meaning that the church might have not seen fit to allow the information to those outside of staff and the governing body. If a church deemed information to be proprietary, then their preference was accepted without prejudice.

The second area of information for the CS-IQ is About the Church. This area began the verbal interview and asked open-ended questions that allowed respondents to give the church’s unique vision. The questions asked for a description of the church and how the church exhibits a past, present or future focus. The core values were examined, as was the church’s originating purpose and current-day purpose. The respondent was asked for the church’s mission statement, strategy and unique role in the community. There were questions on the difference between the church and other churches in the community, and what groups in the community the church attempts to reach. While the questions were relatively short, they were designed to allow the respondent to share in-depth the vision and direction of the church.

The third area of the CS-IQ is About Theology. For the case studies, this section was brief. The reason for this is that churches of similar theological orientation were chosen for the research. This was done for the sake of obtaining as much commonality as possible, so that the unique factors about the Executive Pastor could be examined. Should the CS-IQ be used in a broad spectrum of churches, then this section would need to be reviewed and appended. This is an area of work for a future researcher.

The fourth area of the CS-IQ is About Ministry. This area examined the atmosphere of ministry in the church, not the specific ministries. Instead of the term atmosphere, one could use the term culture of communication. The respondent described the atmosphere of the worship services, such as formal, casual, expectant, laid back, or non-expressive. The same was asked about small groups, Bible studies and special events. If the church had church-wide business meetings, these were also examined. The style of the governing board was queried, looking into how members discuss critical issues, handle dissention and arrive at decisions. The issue of past or current conflict in the church was queried.

The fifth area of the CS-IQ is Change and Catalysts in the Church. These questions asked about areas in the church that need change, resist change or cannot be changed. The respondent described the quantity and quality of strong ministries in the church. The issue of launching new ministries within the last five years was examined. To stimulate the respondent to envision the future, a hypothetical question was given: “If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would your dreams be?” This fifth area was designed to allow the respondent to explain and expand on the church’s vision statement.

The sixth area of the CS-IQ is Membership and Growth. This information was not gathered to assess what some may see as success or failure of a ministry. It was requested in order to obtain an accurate numerical picture of the church. Church membership numbers were requested for the last five years, as well as what attracted newcomers to the church. The area of a growth plan was queried. Should the church have a plan for growth, the issue was examined of whether the church was willing to make sacrifices needed to fulfill the plan. The respondent was asked to cite obstacles to growth for the church and how a neighbor near the church would portray the congregation.

The seventh area of the CS-IQ is Staff Issues. This allowed the respondent to address areas critical to the ministerial and support staff. The tenure of staff was queried as well as how the congregation views staff: paid professionals, ministers called of God, hired help, or another view. The current staffing level was examined, whether the church was understaffed, overstaffed or properly staffed. A delicate issue was asked; whether there were staff that the governing board desired to remove. The structure of the staff was examined, with a view toward job descriptions, roles, hierarchy and chain of command. The respondent was asked about the leadership style of the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor, and how differences between the two individuals were resolved. Expectations of staff and spouses were examined. This set of questions allowed the respondent to share the vision and practice relative to the staff.

The eighth and final area of the CS-IQ is Senior Pastor. The role of the Senior Pastor was examined pertaining to preaching, teaching, counseling, relationship with the governing board, office hours, administration, and visitation. Reporting relationships were queried as to whom reports to the Senior Pastor and governing board. The relationship between the staff and governing board was examined.

The Case Study Interview Questions gave a broad view of the history, ministry and structure of the church. The CS-IQ gave an orientation to the church, but not a detailed view of the role of the Executive Pastor.

Definition of the Executive Pastor Indicator

The second instrument to be developed was called the Executive Pastor Indicator (XP-I). The need to objectively query solely the role and function of the Executive Pastor led to the development of the XP-I. The Case Study Interview Questions examined the entire church, but the XP-I addressed issues specific to the Executive Pastor.

Whereas the CS-IQ utilized open-ended questions, the XP-I had a seven point answer scale. Taylor and Bogdan comment on evaluating such data: “Because qualitative data analysis is an intuitive and inductive process, most qualitative researchers analyze and code their own data.” To promote the creation of accurate questions, careful attention was given to the input from the case study churches.  Again, as Taylor and Bogdan say, “Data analysis, as we see it, entails certain distinct activities. The first and most important one is ongoing discovery—identifying themes and developing concepts and propositions.” They continue, “In qualitative research, data collection and analysis go hand in hand.  Throughout participant observation, in-depth interviewing, and other qualitative research, researchers are constantly theorizing and trying to make sense of their data.” Yin comments on the same concept, “For case studies, an important revelation is that the several tactics to be used in dealing with these tests should be applied throughout the conduct of the case study, and not just at the beginning. In this sense, ‘design work’ actually continues beyond the initial design plans.” The XP-I was born out of careful listening to both Irving Bible Church and Stonebriar Community Church. Then, this researcher theorized and attempted to comprehend their data, honing the XP-I.

To obtain sufficient data about an Executive Pastor, the XP-I was designed to be taken by a variety of individuals from different groups in the church. As Cronbach notes, “A test is usually designed to fit a certain level of ability, and it will measure persons at that level most accurately. Persons for whom the test is very difficult are likely to have comparatively large errors of measurement because of guessing or unstable behaviour.” The XP-I was designed to be used by people familiar with the role and functions of the Executive Pastor. It was not designed to be used by a congregant who rarely interacts with the Executive Pastor. The following individuals and groups can take the XP-I:

  • An Executive Pastor can take the Indicator as a self-report instrument to be compared to a current job description, and to the results of the individuals and groups listed below.
  • An individual considering a vacant or newly created Executive Pastor position can take the Indicator as a self-report instrument to be compared to a proposed job description and discussion during the hiring process.
  • A Senior Pastor can take the Indicator about an existing Executive Pastor, a vacant position, or the possible creation of such a position.
  • Governing board members can take the Indicator about an existing Executive Pastor, a vacant position, or the possible creation of such a position. These results can be grouped together to form the “governing board picture.”
  • Ministers and support staff subordinate to an Executive Pastor can take the Indicator about that person, a vacant position, or the possible creation of such a position. These results can be grouped together to form the “ministerial staff picture” or “support staff picture.”
  • Committee members (such as Finance, Budget, Building) that work with an Executive Pastor can take the Indicator on that person, a vacant position, or the possible creation of such a position. These results can be grouped together to form the “xyz committee picture.”

The answers of respondents can be viewed singly or averaged for an entire group.

The data provided by the XP-I respondents form a collection of defined reference points. Whereas the CS-IQ utilized unstructured questions, the XP-I is structured. Fontana and Frey comment: “In structured interviewing, the interviewer asks all respondents the same series of preestablished questions with a limited set of response categories.” The XP-I is defined because each of the respondents answers the same question, allowing for a comparison of answers from different people, yet about the same Executive Pastor. The goal was for at least ten respondents to report on each Executive Pastor. These responses were evaluated for reliability and validity.

The Executive Pastor Indicator contains eight indices, querying the respondent about the Executive Pastor’s three multidimensional roles and five focused functions. As Greenwalt noted that an executive’s functions can be multidimensional, so the XP-I contains multidimensional roles and focused functions. The three multidimensional roles of the Executive Pastor are: Shepherd to the entire congregation; Assistant to the Senior Pastor and Executive in the church. The five focused functions are Administrator, Catalyst, Minister, Mentor and Overseer.

Each XP-I question is scored on the scales of multidimensional roles and focused functions. Showing both scales, an example question from the XP-I is:

Executive Pastor …                                                     Function                 Role

Acts as a catalyst for starting new ministries                    Catalyst                   Pastor

This question applies on the five focused functions to the Catalyst function; it also applies on the three multidimensional roles to the Pastor role. The roles and functions were derived from discussion with the case study churches.

The XP-I was limited to a total number of sixty-four questions. This keeps the indicator brief enough so that respondents stay engaged. Potential rejection by a respondent was considered in the total number of the questions. The questions are as specific as possible, as Sudman and Bradburn illustrate:  “The simple reason for making each question as specific as possible is to make the task easier for the respondent, which, in turn, will result in more accurate reports of behavior.” They continue addressing another issue:

If you wish to go to a rating scale with more than five points, you will need a visual aid or device that employs something beyond the use of words. … You must always provide for an odd number of categories, in order to reserve a middle or indifferent point for respondents who insist on taking a middle position or who are undecided or indifferent about the two ends of the continuum.

For these reasons, each question of the XP-I utilizes the same seven point scale. The XP-I scale is visually represented by the use of text, numbers and radio buttons:

 (To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Forcing respondents to choose a structured answer was considered a mild risk, as some people may be predisposed against a forced answer format.

The XP-I was designed for a website interface. Typical of web forms, the radio button darkens with the respondent’s choice. The choice may be changed at any time before the indicator is submitted. As to the totaling of an indicator’s scores, Selltiz asserts: “The algebraic summation of the scores of the individual’s responses to all the separate items gives his total score, which is interpreted as representing his position on a scale of favorable-unfavorable attitude toward the object.” However, the algebraic summation was rejected in favor of an averaging of the scores for a given scale. This way, even though the scales often have a different number of questions, all the scales will have a comparative number, which will be between one and seven.

Concerning use of the web, Fontana and Frey comment: “Another direction currently being taken in interviewing is related to the changing technologies available. The reliance of the interview as a means of information gathering has most recently expanded to electronic outlets, with questionnaires being administered via fax, electronic mail, and website.” Weitzman addresses the problem of distributed software that may not work across various computer platforms. Software incompatibility was avoided by utilizing the web interface, where any web explorer can open the page and send the form. Weitzman raises another issue: “Multiple verses single coding. Some programs let you assign several different codes to the same segment of text …” The web interface allowed easy scoring of each question’s dual aspects of function and role. Should a respondent not have web access, the web pages were printed.  The respondent could then execute the Indicator as a paper and pencil instrument.

The XP-I was designed for easy access by a variety of people who know the role and function of the Executive Pastor. The combination of two aspects to each question reduced the total number of questions, enabling the respondent to stay motivated to finish the sixty-four questions, completing the web interface in about ten minutes.

The XP-I and Three Multidimensional Roles

The Indicator measures the broad categories of the Executive Pastor’s multidimensional roles of Shepherd, Assistant and Executive. The following describes each role.

The Executive Pastor Indicator contains twenty questions about the multidimensional role of Shepherd to the entire congregation The Shepherd role counsels and cares for the congregation. The Shepherd envisions ministry and encourages members to be involved in ministry. The Shepherd equips the congregation, mentors staff, and oversees ministry. A part of the Shepherd role can be to preach. If the preaching component is large, then the Executive Pastor may have gifts commonly associated with the position of Senior Pastor. For the prototypical Executive Pastor, the Shepherd role is a minority role.  For the Senior Pastor, the Shepherd role should be a dominant role.

The questions for the Shepherd role contain aspects of four of the five functions. Only the Administrator function is absent in the Shepherd role. All questions about the Catalyst function are in the Shepherd role. The questions for the Shepherd role are:

Executive Pastor …                                                                                   Function      Role

Acts as a catalyst for starting new ministries                                                 Catalyst      Shepherd

Attends every meeting of the governing board, perhaps as a member    Overseer     Shepherd

Challenges people frequently to improve ministry                                      Catalyst       Shepherd

Coordinates cases of church discipline with the governing board           Minister      Shepherd

Counsels members as a significant portion of ministry time                    Minister     Shepherd

Creates the strategic plan for the church                                                       Catalyst      Shepherd

Disciples believers as a large percentage of ministry time                         Minister     Shepherd

Empowers members to be involved in ministry                                           Catalyst      Shepherd

Encourages many congregants to volunteer for ministry service             Catalyst      Shepherd

Envisions future ministry for the entire church                                           Catalyst      Shepherd

Equips members for ministry as a large percentage of ministry time     Catalyst      Shepherd

Exhorts any staff member as deemed necessary                                           Mentor      Shepherd

Fills the pulpit as a preacher when the Senior Pastor is away                   Minister      Shepherd

Lights fires frequently to get people involved in ministry                         Catalyst       Shepherd

Motivates people to get involved in ministry                                                Catalyst      Shepherd

Networks ministries together to enhance effectiveness                             Catalyst       Shepherd

Oversees all church ministries                                                                         Overseer     Shepherd

Preaches at least one-third of the time                                                           Minister     Shepherd

Seeks out opportunities for members to share the gospel                         Catalyst       Shepherd

Shepherds the entire congregation rather than a segment of it                Overseer     Shepherd

The twenty questions of the Shepherd role give an adequate assessment of this vital part of the Executive Pastor.

The XP-I contains fourteen questions about the multidimensional role of Assistant to the Pastor. Whereas the Shepherd role serves the entire congregation, the Assistant role serves the Senior Pastor and performs specific ministry.

The Assistant role is often seen in the position of the Assistant Pastor. As Hawkins has studied, this position generally has a limited scope of ministry in the congregation. The Assistant serves the Senior Pastor by doing ministry that the Senior Pastor might otherwise do, such as weddings and funerals. The Assistant sees the Senior Pastor as the spiritual leader of the congregation. The Assistant often has a limited relationship with the governing board. The Assistant often teaches an adult class or runs a department in the church.

The prototypical Executive Pastor should have a minority percentage devoted to the Assistant role. Should an individual score with a sizeable percentage in this area, it may be that the person has the gifts of an Assistant Pastor. The Assistant role primarily contains the Minister function. It has limited questions about the Mentor, Overseer and Administrator functions. It contains no questions about the Catalyst function. The following questions relate to the Assistant role:

Executive Pastor …                                                                                         Function  Role

Communicates with the Sr. Pastor about less than half of church ministry  Minister Assistant

Conducts funerals so the Senior Pastor does not have to                               Minister    Assistant

Develops staff in only a few areas of appointed ministry                               Mentor      Assistant

Gives input on hiring personnel for only a few areas of ministry                 Mentor      Assistant

Meets with the governing board only when needed                                        Overseer    Assistant

Ministers in a few areas as a major percentage of ministry time                  Minister    Assistant

Pastors just a part of the congregation as determined by job description  Minister    Assistant

Performs weddings so the Sr. Pastor has time to focus on his ministry      Minister    Assistant

Reports on finances for only a few areas of church ministry                 Administrator Assistant

Reviews programs for only a small part of the entire church                        Overseer   Assistant

Sees the Senior Pastor as the spiritual leader                                                   Minister    Assistant

Serves the Senior Pastor by “taking things off his plate”                               Minister     Assistant

Teaches a Sunday Adult Class                                                                             Minister     Assistant

Instructs or leads a weekday class or small group                                          Minister     Assistant

The questions about the Assistant role attempt to show service to the congregation with specific ministry and limited scope.

The XP-I contains thirty questions relating to the Executive role. There are more questions about this role as the other two roles both contain pastoral ministry. The Executive role is to manage the business of the church, to oversee the ministry programs, and implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and governing board. The Executive is to coach and optimize the staff. The Executive role does not contain the Catalyst or Minister Function. The questions for the Executive role are:

Executive Pastor …                                                                                     Function   Role

Administers policies of the governing board                                                       Overseer   Exec

Advises the Senior Pastor about the SeniorPastor’s schedule and events     Overseer   Exec

Approves the procedures for running the church                                               Overseer   Exec

Conceives design of new buildings                                                                             Admin   Exec

Delegates buildings and grounds management to subordinate staff                  Admin   Exec

Determines compensation for all staff                                                                       Admin   Exec

Directs capital campaigns to fund new buildings                                                    Admin    Exec

Discusses church-wide ministry with Senior Pastor and governing board     Overseer  Exec

Ensures that budget development for the entire church is in line with vision  Admin   Exec

Evaluates job descriptions for all staff                                                                      Mentor   Exec

Facilitates hiring architects and contractors for new buildings                           Admin    Exec

Fills the position as the second in command to the Senoir Pastor                   Overseer   Exec

Functions as the Chief Executive Officer                                                                  Admin    Exec

Guards the schedule of the Senior Pastor                                                              Overseer   Exec

Guides the master planning process of buildings and grounds                           Admin    Exec

Handles operations as Chief Operating Officer or has a subordinate COO      Admin   Exec

Hires and terminates all staff (except the Senior Pastor)                                    Mentor   Exec

Implements the vision of the Senior Pastor                                                         Overseer   Exec

Liaisons between the governing board and church committees                         Admin    Exec

Manages all ministry by delegated responsibility                                               Overseer   Exec

Mentors key staff                                                                                                         Mentor    Exec

Monitors every ministry for the Senior Pastor and governing board             Overseer   Exec

Occupies a powerful position                                                                                  Overseer   Exec

Operates as the Chief Financial Officer or has a subordinate CFO                   Admin    Exec

Receives advice on legal and insurance issues from staff or volunteers           Admin   Exec

Recruits staff for any position as deems necessary                                             Mentor    Exec

Represents church-wide finances to the governing board                                  Admin    Exec

Runs staff meeting and retreats                                                                               Mentor    Exec

Supervises all staff                                                                                                       Mentor    Exec

Works as the Chief of Staff                                                                                        Mentor    Exec

The questions about the Executive role attempt to show the extent to which the individual implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and governing board through managing the church.

The three multidimensional roles of Shepherd, Assistant and Executive begin to assess the varied position of the Executive Pastor. The three roles look at the big picture, using terms that cross work-function categories.

The XP-I and Five Focused Functions

The five focused functions evaluate the work-function categories of the Executive Pastor. Again, each of the sixty-four questions of the Indicator contains information about the three multidimensional roles and the five focused functions.

In broad terms, the Administrator manages the business of the church. The Administrator oversees the facilities and may establish the design guidelines for new buildings. The Administrator oversees the church finances and ensures that they are reported to the governing board. For many Executive Pastors, there may be a separate individual, such as a Business Administrator, who handles the aspects of the Administrator function. Whereas the Administrator supervises business in the church, the Overseer supervises ministry (addressed below). There are fourteen questions that pertain to the Administrator.

Executive Pastor …                                                                                       Function    Role

Conceives design of new buildings                                                                               Admin   Exec

Delegates buildings and grounds management to subordinate staff                    Admin   Exec

Determines compensation for all staff                                                                        Admin   Exec

Directs capital campaigns to fund new buildings                                                     Admin   Exec

Ensures that budget development for the entire church is in line with vision   Admin   Exec

Facilitates hiring architects and contractors for new buildings                             Admin   Exec

Functions as the Chief Executive Officer                                                                    Admin   Exec

Guides the master planning process of buildings and grounds                             Admin   Exec

Handles operations as Chief Operating Officer or has a subordinate COO         Admin   Exec

Liaisons between the governing board and church committees                            Admin    Exec

Operates as the Chief Financial Officer or has a subordinate CFO                        Admin   Exec

Receives advice on legal and insurance issues from staff or volunteers               Admin   Exec

Reports on finances for only a few areas of church ministry                                  Admin   Assist

Represents church-wide finances to the governing board                                      Admin   Exec

Essentially all of the Administrator questions fall in the Executive role. The only exception to this is the second to last question that is used as a filter for the Assistant function.

The Catalyst function invigorates existing ministry or begins new ones. The Catalyst empowers members to be involved in ministry. There are eleven questions about the Catalyst function.

Executive Pastor …                                                                               Function     Role

Acts as a catalyst for starting new ministries                                               Catalyst    Shepherd

Challenges people frequently to improve ministry                                     Catalyst    Shepherd

Creates the strategic plan for the church                                                      Catalyst    Shepherd

Empowers members to be involved in ministry                                          Catalyst    Shepherd

Encourages many congregants to volunteer for ministry service            Catalyst    Shepherd

Envisions future ministry for the entire church                                          Catalyst    Shepherd

Equips members for ministry as a large percentage of ministry time    Catalyst     Shepherd

Lights fires frequently to get people involved in ministry                         Catalyst     Shepherd

Motivates people to get involved in ministry                                               Catalyst    Shepherd

Networks ministries together to enhance effectiveness                             Catalyst    Shepherd

Seeks out opportunities for members to share the gospel                         Catalyst    Shepherd

All of the Catalyst questions pertain to the Shepherd role.

It is the Mentor who motivates church staff to be their best. The Mentor evaluates the individual and challenges the person to “go to the next level” in performance. This process begins with the hiring process and may include terminations. There are ten questions for the Mentor.

Executive Pastor …                                                                          Function       Role

Develops staff in only a few areas of appointed ministry                       Mentor     Assistant

Evaluates job descriptions for all staff                                                       Mentor      Executive

Exhorts any staff member as deemed necessary                                     Mentor       Shepherd

Gives input on hiring personnel for only a few areas of ministry        Mentor      Assistant

Hires and terminates all staff (except the Senior Pastor)                      Mentor      Executive

Mentors key staff                                                                                            Mentor      Executive

Recruits staff for any position as deems necessary                                 Mentor      Executive

Runs staff meeting and retreats                                                                  Mentor      Executive

Supervises all staff                                                                                         Mentor       Executive

Works as the Chief of Staff                                                                           Mentor       Executive

Most of the Mentor questions pertain to the Executive role. The first and fourth questions pertain to the Assistant as they are questions about a limited ministry.

The Minister preaches in the worship services. The Minister counsels, teaches and performs religious ceremonies. There are fourteen questions about the Minister.

Executive Pastor …                                                                                    Function    Role

Communicates with the Sr. Pastor about less than half of church ministry Minister Assistant

Coordinates cases of church discipline with the governing board                Minister   Shepherd

Counsels members as a significant portion of ministry time                         Minister   Shepherd

Disciples believers as a large percentage of ministry time                             Minister   Shepherd

Fills the pulpit as a preacher when the Senior Pastor is away                       Minister   Shepherd

Instructs or leads a weekday class or small group                                            Minister   Assistant

Ministers in a few areas as a major percentage of ministry time                   Minister   Assistant

Pastors just a part of the congregation as determined by job description   Minister   Assistant

Preaches at least one-third of the time                                                               Minister   Shepherd

Sees the Senior Pastor as the spiritual leader                                                  Minister   Assistant

Serves the Senior Pastor by “taking things off his plate”                               Minister   Assistant

Teaches a Sunday Adult Class                                                                              Minister   Assistant

Conducts funerals so the Senior Pastor does not have to                               Minister   Assistant

Performs weddings so the Sr. Pastor has time to focus on his ministry      Minister   Assistant

The Minister questions are split between the Shepherd role (five questions) and Assistant role (nine questions). As the Indicator is targeted for Executive Pastors, not Senior Pastors, the questions reflect the desire to quantify the differences between these two positions. The Indicator also reflects the desire to quantify the differences between Executive Pastors and Assistant Pastors. The Minister questions help in this quantification.

The Overseer supervises ministry to ensure it is in line with vision and values. As such, the Overseer often attends meetings of the governing board. The Overseer approves procedures for the church based on governing board policy. The Overseer focuses on ministry first, whereas the Administrator focuses on business first. There are fifteen questions relevant to the Overseer.

Executive Pastor …                                                                                Function     Role

Administers policies of the governing board                                                Overseer    Executive

Advises the Sr. Pastor about the Sr. Pastor’s schedule and events           Overseer   Executive

Approves the procedures for running the church                                        Overseer    Executive

Attends every meeting of the governing board, perhaps as a member    Overseer   Shepherd

Discusses church-wide ministry with Sr. Pastor and governing board   Overseer    Executive

Fills the position as the second in command to the Senior Pastor           Overseer    Executive

Guards the schedule of the Senior Pastor                                                      Overseer    Executive

Implements the vision of the Senior Pastor                                                  Overseer    Executive

Manages all ministry by delegated responsibility                                        Overseer    Executive

Meets with the governing board only when needed                                    Overseer    Assistant

Monitors every ministry for the Senior Pastor and governing board      Overseer    Executive

Occupies a powerful position                                                                           Overseer    Executive

Oversees all church ministries                                                                         Overseer    Shepherd

Reviews programs for only a small part of the entire church                    Overseer    Assistant

Shepherds the entire congregation rather than a segment of it                Overseer    Shepherd

The Overseer questions are often in the Executive role. Two pertain to the Assistant, as a vehicle for filtering the difference between the Executive Pastor and Assistant Pastor. The Overseer has three Shepherd role questions.

XP-I Respondent Information and Comments

The XP-I asks for data to identify the respondent and the relationship to the Executive Pastor. Also, there are two questions at the end of the XP-I that allow for the respondent to make comments or note problems with the Indicator.

The following are text fields requested from each respondent. These fields are at the beginning of the Indicator:

  • Name of respondent
  • Name of Executive Pastor
  • Name of church
  • Name of respondent’s title or role in the church
  • Respondent’s email address

The email address was used to send to each respondent a five page personalized response, (see the Appendix for an example). The respondent’s title identified staff members, allowing the compilation of the ministerial or support staff picture. The respondent’s role identified governing board or committee members, again allowing the compilation of a group picture.

Two other fields are given at the end of the Indicator. These allowed the respondents to give an open-ended evaluation of the indicator:

  • The “comments” text box allows the respondent to send a comment of any length on any subject.
  • The “could a question be improved?” text box specifically asks the respondent to consider and articulate specific issues encountered with the questions.

These text fields provided for feedback to the Indicator and enabled further evaluation and future improvement of the XP-I.

Reliability of the XP-I

There are two vital concepts to a psychometric instrument, reliability and validity. To be useful, the Executive Pastor Indicator must show itself to be both reliable and valid. For reliability, each of the three multidimensional roles and five focused functions of the Executive Pastor Indicator were examined with Cronbach’s alpha; secondary methods were also applied. From Cronbach’s alpha, the Standard Error of Measurement was determined. These two numbers began the examination of the reliability of the XP-I. While there are various methods of determining validity, and these are briefly touched upon, the main measure of validity was in the case studies (reported in the next chapter).

The first aspect to be considered is the reliability of the instrument. Selltiz discusses the aspect of reliability: “The evaluation of the reliability of any measurement procedure consists in determining how much of the variation in scores among individuals is due to inconsistencies in measurement.” A more succinct definition is given by Gregory: “Reliability refers to the attribute of consistency in measurement.”

The question then is entertained of how the reliability of the Executive Pastor Indicator should be measured. McIntire and Miller state that there are four broad categories of determining the reliability of an instrument: Test-Retest Reliability, Alternate Forms of the Test, Internal Consistency, and Scorer Reliability. Test-Retest is the process of having the same person retake an indicator at a later time. The first and second results are compared to see if they are within accepted levels of deviation. As this study focuses on the case study method, this form of reliability was not chosen. Using Test-Retest, there is room for future study on the reliability of the XP-I; this might best be done as a quantitative analysis instead of a case study approach to a qualitative analysis. Alternate Forms of the test can be used to give an instrument to the same people at the same time. Results of the two forms are compared for accepted levels of deviation. This form of determining reliability was not chosen for the same reason as Test-Retest. The process of scoring an instrument is evaluated in Scorer Reliability. Since the XP-I utilizes a web interface, with the data inserted into a customized spreadsheet that computes all the results automatically, this method of determining reliability was seen as having been fulfilled.

The primary method for determining the reliability of the Executive Pastor Indicator was Internal Consistency. McIntire and Miller comment on formulas for calculating internal consistency:

Kuder and Richardson (1937, 1939) first proposed the ‘KR-20’ formula for calculating internal consistency for tests whose questions can be scored as either right or wrong. In 1951, Cronbach proposed a formula called ‘coefficient alpha’ that calculates internal consistency for questions that have more than two possible responses.

The formulas by Kuder and Richardson, both the KR-20 and KR-21, apply only to binary answers, a “1” for correct answers and “0” for wrong answers. For this reason, with the seven point Likert scale of the XP-I, the “coefficient alpha,” or “Cronbach’s alpha,” was chosen. Gregory summarizes the usefulness of Cronbach’s formula:

Coefficient alpha is an index of the internal consistency of the items, that is, their tendency to correlate positively with one another. Insofar as a test or scale with high internal consistency will also tend to show stability of scores in a test-retest approach, coefficient alpha is therefore a useful estimate of reliability.

Cronbach discusses the types of instruments that can benefit from his formula:

Analysis of a job seeks to identify personal qualities that contribute to or limit success. The search is for KSAOs, the trade jargon says, referring to knowledge, skills, abilities and ‘other characteristics’ (including attitudes and habits). Job analysis can be systematic but not machinelike. … A first step is preliminary definition of a job category. ‘Salesperson,’ for example, is too broad; it is better to look at ‘representative of a drug firm who calls on physicians.’

The XP-I is well suited to Cronbach’s alpha as it measures not just a pastor, but the specific kind of pastor called Executive Pastor who implements the policy of the governing board and vision of the Senior Pastor. However, Cronbach’s alpha is not designed to analyze heterogeneous scales. Cronbach says, “Instead, the test developer should calculate and report an estimate of internal reliability for each homogenous subtest or factor.” Thus, Cronbach’s formula has been applied separately to each of the three multidimensional roles and the five focused functions. In this way, each of the eight scales of the XP-I has been evaluated with Cronbach’s alpha.

The goal of Internal Consistency is to show that the Executive Pastor Indicator is reliable. That is shown through a number, as Gregory comments:

As most every student of psychology knows, the merit of a psychological test is determined by its reliability but then ultimately by its validity. … Yet regardless of the method used, the assessment of reliability invariably boils down to a simple summary statistic, the reliability coefficient.

Cronbach’s coefficient alpha returns a positive number between zero and one.  The formula for Cronbach’s alpha:

 (To view image of the formula, please see original PDF below article)

The formula can be understood when broken down into component parts:

  • a is the computation of Cronbach’s alpha. When used in other formulas, this is represented with an r, the reliability coefficient.
  • n is the number of questions being measured. This will vary depending on the role or function being measured.
  • Sq is the standard deviation of each question being measured. This variance is then squared and the sum of the squares is computed. Sq examines each question in a given role or function.
  • Sr is the variance of all of the test scores, meaning the standard deviation of the sum of each respondent’s answers, then squared. Sr examines each respondent.

The formula was independently tested in this researcher’s spreadsheet and confirmed in a Reliability Calculator created by Del Siegle of the University of Connecticut. There were no differences between this researcher’s spreadsheet calculations and Del Siegle’s.

There is discussion about what level of correlation constitutes a significant finding. McIntire and Miller write:

Psychologists have not set a fixed value at which reliability can be interpreted as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. The amount of reliability necessary, and the amount of error that can be tolerated, depends on the purpose of the test. Cascio (1991), when referring to employment tests, suggests that reliability should be above .90 if the test compares individuals. He notes, however, that tests with reliabilities as low as .70 have proven useful in certain situations. Schmitt (1996) notes (but does not necessarily agree with) a common presumption among many researches that a coefficient alpha of .70 is adequate.

For this examination of the XP-I, findings below .50 are seen as having poor internal correlation. Findings above .60 show a need for improvement to better represent the scale.  A coefficient alpha of .70 is an acceptable degree of internal correlation. Above .80 is good and findings above .90 are seen as excellent.

After the computation of Cronbach’s alpha, the Standard Error of Measurement (SEM) has been found for each scale of the XP-I. The SEM ascertains the amount of measurement error present in the observed scores. The formula for the SEM is:

 (To view the image of the formula, please see original PDF below article)

The formula can be understood when broken down into component parts:

  • Se is the Standard Error of Measurement, per scale, such as Minister, Mentor or Overseer.
  • Sr is the variance of all of the test scores, meaning the standard deviation of the sum of each respondent’s answers per scale.
  • r is the reliability coefficient, Cronbach’s alpha, per scale.  This is subtracted from the number one and the square root is found of that sum.

This formula returns the SEM for each of the eight indices in the XP-I.

Just as Cronbach’s alpha was found for each of the three multidimensional roles and five focused functions, the SEM was found for each of the eight indices. However, as the SEM refers to the sum of scores for a given scale, the SEM produces a number that needs better definition for work with the XP-I. The XP-I does not report the sum of scores for a given scale, but reports the averages of the questions per scale. Thus, a more pertinent number for the XP-I is the SEM of each question in a given scale.  The formula for the SEMq is:

(To view the image of the formula, please see original PDF below article)

The formula can be understood when broken down into component parts:

  • Sq is the Standard Error of Measurement per question.
  • Se is Standard Error of Measurement per scale, i.e. Shepherd or Mentor.
  • n is the number of questions being measured.  This will vary depending on the role or function being measured.

Thus, Cronbach’s alpha provides a reliability coefficient for an entire scale.  The SEMq provides the possible error for questions per scale.

Based on data from seventy-five respondents, Cronbach’s alpha and the SEMq was computed for each of the three multidimensional roles. The results can be represented in a table and graph. For visual clarity in charting, both the Alpha and SEMq were multiplied by 100 and so noted on the table and chart:

Role             Cronbach’s Alpha (1/100s)       SEMq (1/100s)    Number of Questions

Assistant                           73.15                                            38.30                                   14

Shepherd                          86.58                                           29.92                                   20

Executive                          87.91                                           25.09                                    30

(To view accompanying graph, please see original PDF below article)

The data shows that all three multidimensional roles have acceptable and good levels of internal correlation, as all have an Alpha above .70 (70/100 in the chart). The Shepherd and Executive roles approach the .90 mark, the standard for a very high level of correlation.

Along with a high degree of internal correlation, the per question Standard Error of Measurement (SEMq) was low.  The SEMq was .25 points (25/100 in the table) for the Shepherd role. The following chart demonstrates the SEMq for the three multidimensional roles:

    Role             SEM     Potential Low     Example Score     Potential High

Assistant            0.38              3.62                             4.00                             4.38

Shepherd           0.30               3.70                            4.00                              4.30

Executive           0.25                3.75                           4.00                               4.25

Thus, for the Shepherd role, a respondent may receive an average of the Executive role of 4, and the true score could be between 3.75 and 4.25 on the seven point Likert scale.

While the Assistant role has an acceptable level of correlation, it is thirteen points below the Shepherd and fourteen below the Executive. There are several possibilities for this difference. The Assistant role has fourteen questions, whereas the other two roles have twenty and thirty questions. It is possible that it is not valid to compare the Alpha of scales with such divergent numbers of questions. More probable is that the Assistant role is difficult to measure, as it is an amorphous role. As noted in the section of this work on the Assistant Pastor, Hawkins says: “The individual in this position has the primary responsibility to assist the senior pastor in creation, implementation, and management of specific functions designed to bring about the unity and maturity of the body of Christ.” It is Hawkins’s words “specific functions” that show the difficulty of the issue.  One Assistant Pastor’s specific function may be in Christian Education, and another’s in Adult Ministry.  Thus, questions in the XP-I cannot ask about detailed aspects of such divergent ministries, but only investigate the degree of specificity of function.

Although the Assistant role produces an acceptable Alpha, the results show an area that can be improved. An analysis of the comments of sixty-eight questions produced the following array, with important implications for the Assistant role:

Function        Area      % of Comments    # of Comments    Total Responses    Question

Overseer       Shepherd                   1%                            1                                  66                            q05

Catalyst        Shepherd                  1%                            1                                   67                             q06

Mentor         Executive                   1%                            1                                  67                             q62

Mentor         Assistant                    4%                           3                                  64                             q30

Admin            Assistant                    4%                           3                                 62                             q54

Overseer        Assistant                    4%                           3                                 63                              q56

Mentor           Assistant                   7%                            5                                 64                              q15

Minister        Assistant                   13%                           9                                 60                              q07

From the table, five of the questions from the Assistant role received both the highest percentage of comments and the lowest number of responses. The Shepherd and Executive roles had substantially no respondent comments and a high degree of internal correlation. The five problematic Assistant role questions can be put in a table:

#     Question                                                                                                    % Comments

7       Communicates with the Senior Pastor about less than half of church           13%

15     Develops staff in only a few areas of appointed ministry                                   7%

30     Gives input on hiring personnel for only a few areas of ministry                   4%

54     Reports on finances for only a few areas of church ministry                          4%

56     Reviews programs for only a small part of the entire church                         4%

Assistant role questions 7, 15, 30, 54 and 56 had the lowest response rates of the XP-I. The overall response rate for the XP-I can be seen in a table:

Minimum Number of Questions Answered              Percent Response

                                         64                                                                       66.2%

                                         58                                                                        91.2%

                                         51                                                                         94.1%

                                         45                                                                         95.6%

                                         26                                                                         97.1%

                                         19                                                                          100%

A chart of the same information gives visual representation to the data:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Of all respondents to the XP-I, sixty-six percent of respondents answered every question. Ninety-one percent of the respondents answered more than fifty-eight questions. However, five questions of the fourteen Assistant role questions had the lowest response rates, between six and twelve percent. The lowest response was to Question 7, skipped by twelve percent of all respondents. Thus, the response rate of the five questions is a concern.

Assistant role questions 7, 15, 30, 54 and 56 had the highest number of comments by respondents. There were a total of twenty-six questions mentioned in the response comments. Three questions in the Shepherd and Executive roles had only one comment apiece. However, there were twenty-three comments about five of the Assistant role questions. Thus, eighty-eight percent of all comments were about five questions. Question 7, in particular, was singly the most problematic question, receiving nine comments. More than half of all comments were about Questions 7 and 15.  Thus, comments from respondents about the five questions are a concern.

For future use of the XP-I, analysis needs to be done on Assistant role Questions 7, 15, 30, 54 and 56.  It may be that the wording of four questions can be revised. Perhaps it will be sufficient to expunge the word “only” from questions 15, 30, 54 and 56. As these four questions will benefit from some revision, they can be classified as minor issues. It may be that with these four questions becoming more comprehensible that the Alpha for the Assistant role will rise to the level of the Shepherd and Executive roles. However, in light of the comments and the response rate, it may be required to eliminate Question 7. There may be a replacement question to better illumine the degrees of Assistant Pastor’s specificity of ministry. A concept for future study is the degrees of measurement possible on the abstract concept of specificity across the boundaries of job descriptions and church culture.  Question 7 has issues from three sources, the Alpha for the Assistant role, comments from respondents and skipped questions. Based on these three issues that no other question had, Question 7 is the sole problematic question in the XP-I.

The results of Cronbach’s Alpha for the three multidimensional roles showed a high rate of internal correlation. The Shepherd and Executive roles approached a very high rate of internal correlation.  The Alpha for the Assistant role was high, but four questions need minor revision and one question was found to be problematic.

The next area to apply Cronbach’s alpha and the SEM was the five focused functions. The results can be represented in a table and graph:

Scale      Cronbach’s Alpha (1/100s)      SEMq (1/100s)     Number of Questions

Mentor                          61.13                                         45.92                                    10

Minister                        70.90                                        35.70                                    14

Overseer                        72.24                                        37.65                                    15

Administrator              75.75                                         38.38                                    14

Catalyst                         90.02                                        34.10                                     11

(To view accompanying graph, please see original PDF below article)

Cronbach’s alpha coefficient is low for the Mentor function, adequate for the Minister, Overseer and Administrator functions, and very high for the Catalyst function. The number of questions per function did not seem to have affected the alpha for any of these scales.

The Catalyst function has the highest coefficient rating, a .90. This may be due to the fact that all the Catalyst function questions also belong to the Shepherd role. This may have given a greater degree of homogeneity to the Catalyst function.

The Mentor function had the lowest coefficient rating, a .61.  The questions for this area are:

#         Mentor Function Questions                                                              Role

15         Develops staff in only a few areas of appointed ministry                    Assistant

24        Evaluates job descriptions for all staff                                                     Executive

25        Exhorts any staff member as deemed necessary                                   Shepherd

30        Gives input on hiring personnel for only a few areas of ministry     Assistant

34        Hires and terminates all staff (except the Senior Pastor)                  Executive

41         Mentors key staff                                                                                       Executive

53        Recruits staff for any position as deems necessary                             Executive

57        Runs staff meeting and retreats                                                               Executive

62        Supervises all staff                                                                                      Executive

64        Works as the Chief of Staff                                                                       Executive

Two of these, Questions 15 and 30, have already been discussed in the Assistant role. Five of the questions, Questions 24, 25, 34, 53 and 62, could be improved by dropping the words “any” and “all.” These terms were included as Sudman and Bradburn say: “Measure the strength of the attitude by building a strength dimension into the question itself.” However, comments by respondents showed these words on the five questions to be confusing. Quite likely with the seven point Likert scale, the words proved redundant. It may also be that the term “Chief of Staff” was out of place in an ecclesiastical setting, causing difficulty for respondents. Thus, it may be that with the revisions to eight of the ten questions that the alpha for the Catalyst function would rise to the .70 level and higher.

Cronbach’s Coefficient Alpha ranges from acceptable to excellent for seven of the eight scales of the XP-I. Question 7 needs expunged. Questions 15, 30, 54 and 56 need the minor revision of the word “only” removed from them. Questions 24, 25, 34, 53 and 62 need the minor revision of the words “all” or “any” removed from them. Thus, fifteen percent of the questions need revision in the first edition of the XP-I.

There are other reasons why the Indicator may return invalid data. Suchman notes subject reliability, “the subject’s mood, motivation, fatigue, and so on may momentarily affect his physical and mental health …” There may be an intentional or unintentional falsification of data by certain respondents. Erroneous data may be entered by a subordinate who is afraid of revealing true viewpoints, as Pyrczak says: “When delving into sensitive matters, is there reason to believe that accurate data were obtained?” These issues also could cause erroneous data to be reported by the Indicator.

Reliability could also be measured if there was another instrument to compare the findings of the XP-I. Selltiz says, “When independent but comparable measures of the same thing are obtained, they will yield the same results to the extent that the measurements are free from random or variable errors.” This researcher knows of no other instrument that assesses the Executive Pastor. Perhaps some future researcher will devise another instrument and the XP-I can have an “independent and comparable measure.” Thus, the data demonstrates that the XP-I has internal reliability.

Validity of the XP-I

As noted earlier, there are two vital concepts to a psychometric instrument, reliability and validity. The XP-I must be demonstrated as valid. The indicator will be seen as valid if it confirms the true role and function of Executive Pastors. Selltiz says about validity:

The validity of a measuring instrument may be defined as the extent to which differences in scores on it reflect true differences among individuals, groups, or situations in the characteristic which it seeks to measure, or true differences in the same individual, group, or situation from one occasion to another, rather than constant or random errors.

Gregory gives a succinct definition: “Put simply, the validity of a test is the extent to which it measures what it claims to measure.” To be valid, the XP-I must accurately measure the three multidimensional roles and the five focused functions.

Concerning an unmeasured and relatively undocumented area such as Executive Pastors, Cronbach’s comments are helpful:

It is ordinarily necessary to evaluate construct validity by integrating evidence from many different sources. The problem of construct validation becomes especially acute in the clinical field since for many of the constructs dealt with it is not a question of finding an imperfect criterion but of finding any criterion at all.

With the dearth of published criteria about Executive Pastors, the XP-I was shown to be valid in the case studies. This is in line with Crosthwaite: “Using several ways to measure the key variables (constructs) in the study is an important way to overcome possible problems of inaccuracy. External validity is maximized in multiple rather than single case study design.” For the XP-I, the validity of the instrument is shown through the careful interview and study process involved in the case studies in the next chapter.

The hypothesis of this dissertation states: “The case studies of the role of Executive Pastor in Elder-led churches will demonstrate that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching.” The Executive Pastor Indicator has the potential to invalidate or validate the hypothesis.

If the results of the Indicator show little need for the Executive role, then the hypothesis would not be validated in this dissertation. If the Overseer and Administrator functions are insignificant, the hypothesis is again not validated. The hypothesis will be validated if there is a functional need of the Administrator, Mentor, and Overseer functions, along with the Executive role.

The hypothesis would be invalidated if a position in the church, other than the Executive Pastor, was seen as facilitating policy-and-vision implementation. As Miller and Fredericks say, the researcher must be diligent:

… the qualitative researcher must, somewhere in the research act itself, be concerned with issues of confirmation … how can we make a case that qualitative data (findings) establish warranted inferences about the topics we are studying?

In other words, we are interested in exploring the types of claims qualitative researches do (and must) make when they say that their findings ‘support,’ ‘verify’ and ‘confirm’ a statement, hypothesis or theory about the social world.

Miller and Fredericks further points out that:

While the case for qualitative confirmation can be made by assessing the positive data instances (both in number and logical adequacy), some additional points need to be made concerning the interpretation of so-called ‘negative’ evidence-instances.

This will be done through the inclusion of many respondents in the case studies. Later, Miller and Fredericks conclude:

The importance of these remarks for the qualitative case lies in the fact that disconfirming instances must be handled with care, especially in either too quickly disconfirming a hypothesis or too quickly modifying the hypothesis to accommodate the recalcitrant cases.

These caveats will be addressed when examining the response data. Negative variations in response data will be carefully examined to understand their importance on the positive data responses.

The hypothesis addresses the functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches. The research included the creation of the Executive Pastor Indicator. With this in mind, the Indicator was scored in four separate instances by this researcher, each was scored from the supposed perspective of the following people describing their own positions:

  • A prototypical Executive Pastor
  • A prototypical Senior Pastor—who concentrates on preaching
  • A prototypical Assistant Pastor—who concentrates on one or two ministry areas
  • A prototypical Business Administrator—who concentrates on financial operations

These prototypes were used as a method of comparing the response data. The prototypes returned the following data about the three multidimensional roles of the Executive Pastor:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

The five focused functions of the prototypes are:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Response data from the case studies will be examined, with regard to the prototypes, in the next chapter.

Chapter Conclusion

The Case Study Interview Questions (CS-IQ) and the Executive Pastor Indicator (XP-I) were developed to obtain data for this qualitative analysis using the case study approach. Through unstructured questions, the CS-IQ gave the history, ministry and structure of the church. Through structured questions, the XP-I gave data specific to the role and function of the Executive Pastor.

The reliability of the XP-I was measured with Cronbach Coefficient Alpha. Seven of the eight scales had sufficient correlation and two of these approached excellent results. One scale, the Mentor function, needs revision of questions that include the words “all,” “any,” and “only.” Question 7 was seen as problematic and should be replaced. This being said, revisions of twelve percent of the questions are minor. Cronbach’s Coefficient Alpha demonstrated the XP-I as a reliable instrument. While validity was introduced in this chapter, the case studies will demonstrate the validity of the XP-I.

There are several items of possible future study concerning the research method of the XP-I. The About Theology section of the Case Study Interview Questions needs attention if the interview questions will be used beyond churches of similar theology. The Executive Pastor Indicator needs to have a Test-Retest reliability analysis. Certain questions as noted in the reliability section need revision. An analysis of how to measure the specificity of the Assistant role needs examination. A separate indicator to examine Executive Pastors could be developed to independently measure role and function; this data could be compared and contrasted to the XP-I. The adoption of business titles in the church, and their level of acceptance by leaders and congregants, could also be studied.

The results of the Interview and Indicator could validate, invalidate or not validate the hypothesis. The hypothesis is to demonstrate that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching. This chapter has delineated the research method to obtain the data relevant to this hypothesis. The next chapter will present the findings from the case study churches.

Chapter 4—Case Study Results

Top-management work is work for a team rather than for one man. It is quite unlikely that any one man will, in his own power, unite the divergent temperaments which the job requires. Moreover, it will be found, when the top-management tasks are analyzed, that there is more work to be done than any one man can do. —Peter Drucker

The words of Peter Drucker can be applied to the church, that the job of leading the church requires people of “divergent temperaments.” In churches with both a Senior Pastor and an Executive Pastor, it would appear “that there is more work to be done than any one man can do.” In this light, this chapter examines the functional need for an Executive Pastor and the validity of the Executive Pastor Indicator. These are found in the two case studies, Stonebriar Community Church and Irving Bible Church. To bring light on specific issues regarding the case study churches, selected data from other churches that have used the Executive Pastor Indicator will be applied.

This chapter presents the results of the Case Study Interview Questions and the Executive Pastor Indicator. Answers to the Interview questions came through each church’s printed material, job descriptions, websites and interviews with the Executive Pastor. Also, each case study church had received attention from newspapers or national magazines and these press materials were utilized. If the Case Study Interview Questions only had been asked, then the case studies could have been mono-dimensional. However, this chapter also presents results of the Executive Pastor Indicator. The XP-I was completed by a selection of people, such as the Executive Pastor, the Senior Pastor, members of the governing board, subordinate staff that reports to the Executive Pastor and members of the congregation. The results of the Interview and Indicator demonstrate the functional need of the Executive Pastor to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board.

On the Selection of Dallas for Case Study Churches

The hypothesis for this dissertation gives broad criteria for the selection of the case study churches:

The case studies of the role of Executive Pastor in Elder-led churches will demonstrate that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching.

The determinant church selection criterion from the hypothesis is that the churches have an Executive Pastor and that they be Elder-led. Churches from various states and regions were considered as potential case study churches. Over thirty churches at the initial level were considered and this was reduced to fourteen churches from nine states. Many of these churches were willing to be case study churches, but they lacked a common thread.

In Christianity Today, Associate Editor Edward Gilbreath presents a thesis which could serve as a cogent rationale for the selection of case study churches. In the cover story, Gilbreath writes on “The New Capital of Evangelicalism” and by means of an illustrative tale, he presents his thesis:

‘Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country, and in each church I have been told that this phone is a direct line to God, but everywhere else it costs $10,000 a minute. Your sign says 25 cents a call. Why?’

The pastor, smiling proudly, replies, ‘Well, my son, you’re in Dallas now. It’s a local call from here.’

What makes this tale more than just an amusing example of ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ bravado is the nagging suspicion that, in Dallas, it could very well be true.

Judging from the unusually large number of churches, seminaries, and parachurch organizations here, one gets the impression that God has some special arrangement with the city—the kind Disney has with Orlando, or that movie stars have with Beverly Hills. The ubiquity of Christian institutions is astounding.

And these aren’t your average-size churches, seminaries, and parachurch organizations either. In the great Texas tradition, they are big—really big—in both membership and clout.

This researcher was willing to investigate churches in various cities around the United States. However, travel was deemed unnecessary as comprehensive research could be conducted in the “capital of evangelicalism.”

In the article, Gilbreath presents a wealth of data to substantiate his thesis. An overview of Gilbreath’s data shows many megachurches and organizations in Dallas:

  • Potter’s House with T.D. Jakes, which draws 23,000 each Sunday
  • Prestonwood Baptist with Jack Graham has 20,000 members, one of the largest in the Southern Baptist Convention, on a 140-acre campus
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral of the Catholic diocese of Dallas, with 11,000 Hispanic worshippers
  • Covenant Church, a 10,000-member charismatic congregation, is regularly lauded as the most racially diverse church in the Dallas area
  • First Baptist Church with Mac Brunson has 5,000 active members
  • First United Methodist with 4,000 members
  • Cathedral of Hope, at 3,600 members, claims to be the world’s largest gay church
  • Park Cities Baptist, Highland Park Presbyterian, Lovers Lane United Methodist, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal. These churches have active memberships of 2,000 or more and many are among the largest in their denominations
  • On the southern edge of the city is a collection of mostly African American megachurches: Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship with Tony Evans, Concord Missionary Baptist and the Potter’s House.
  • Evangélica Bethania is a fast growing Hispanic congregation
  • Temple Emanu-El in North Dallas, one of the largest synagogues in the nation
  • Dallas Theological Seminary
  • Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the world’s largest seminary
  • Perkins School of Theology, a home of moderate and liberal Christianity
  • Parachurch and broadcast ministries: Tony Evans, T.D. Jakes, Chuck Swindoll, James Robison, and June Hunt

The data in Gilbreath’s article is not alone in showing that Dallas may be the new capital of evangelicalism.

In 2001, the Hartford Institute of Religion released the findings of its lengthy study of megachurches.  They have defined the parameters of the size of the megachurch:

The most obvious characteristic of megachurches is their size. The average weekly worship attendance was 3,857 persons. Roughly 50 percent of the churches had between 2,000 and 4,000 in attendance, with almost 15% reporting 6,000 or more attenders. Interestingly almost the same percentage of churches reported worship attendance less than 2,000, mostly in the 1,800-1,900 person range. These congregations have been left in the analysis.

The findings on the megachurches are not static, as the study was updated as of May 2003. New additions to the Hartford’s database require a church to have a worship attendance average of at least two thousand people.

The study by Hartford Seminary seems to well represent denominational churches. However, as observed in the North Texas data, the report is lacking data on non-denominational churches, specifically Bible and Community Churches. The following churches were missing from Hartford’s study: Christ Chapel Bible Church of Fort Worth; Denton Bible Church of Denton, Irving Bible Church of Irving, Northwest Bible Church of Dallas, Pantego Bible Church of Arlington, Reinhardt Bible Church of Dallas, Scofield Memorial Church of Dallas, Stonebriar Community Church of Frisco and Watermark Community Church of Dallas. If added, these churches would add a total of approximately twenty-five thousand worshippers. This increases the total number of North Texas megachurch worshippers in the Hartford report by almost twenty percent. Future research could determine if the under-reporting occurred in other areas of the country as well.

Hartford’s data on megachurches can be compiled into a table, supplemented with Dallas area churches not included in Hartford’s analysis, compared to population from the United States Census 2000, and sorted by the quantity of megachurches:

Area               Population (p)   # of Megachurches   Megachurch Worshippers (w)  Density (p:w)

United States 281,421,906                      723                           2,309,493                                   122:1

California        33,871,648                        111                                473,012                                     72:1

Texas               20,851,820                        107                               312,141                                      67:1

Dallas/Ft. Worth 4,632,849                    53                                135,232                                      34:1

Dallas                1,188,580                          22                                58,754                                       20:1

Los Angeles      3,692,820                        16                                  93,654                                      39:1

On a state level, California has the greatest number of megachurches, with a more than fifty percent higher number of worshippers. Yet, when looking at the density of population (p) to megachurch worshipper (w), Texas has a higher ratio of 67:1 (p:w).  This means that one out of every sixty-seven residents in California and Texas worship in a megachurch.

Looking at two cities in each state, Dallas (385 square miles) has seventy-five percent of the land of Los Angeles (498 square miles), yet Los Angeles has more than three times the resident population. Thus, in terms of the number of megachurches, population density is not necessarily a significant factor. Los Angeles has a population to megachurch worshipper ratio of 39:1, while Dallas has 20:1. In other words, one resident out of every twenty in the city of Dallas attends a megachurch. It can be concluded that Dallas has a high percentage of citizens attending a megachurch.

Not only is Dallas the home of many megachurches, but some of these were “instant megachurches.”  This again solidifies Dallas’ standing as a new capital of evangelicalism:

In addition to the growth of existing churches, a number of itinerant ministers have found Dallas to be fertile soil for growing big churches from scratch. Just ask T.D. Jakes and Chuck Swindoll, two high-profile preachers who planted ‘instant’ megachurches.

‘I think there’s a demographic shift going on that explains some of the activity,’ says Dallas Baptist University’s Michael Williams. ‘The proximity of the DFW Airport and a couple of major interstate arteries make Dallas an important location in terms of commerce, and an outgrowth of that is the relocation of a lot of businesses—and people—to this area in the last 30 years. That’s been a real benefit to the churches.’

‘There’s a dramatic religious variety here. It’s really unlike any other place in the country,’ says Darrell L. Bock, professor of spiritual development and culture at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). ‘You’ve got a microcosm of evangelicalism here in a lot of ways—the big megachurches, the average-size churches. But whereas most communities have one or two places like that, Dallas has tons.’

Bock concludes that “I think Dallas is a stealth capital of evangelicalism.” On the basis of this evidence, it will be accepted that Dallas is the new capital of evangelicalism. The term Dallas will be used in Gilbreath’s sense of the Dallas/Fort Worth region.

As Dallas is the new capital of evangelicalism, it was found unnecessary for this researcher to travel to another part of the United States to conduct case studies on the churches. Rather, by containing the case studies to churches in one region, potential distorting factors of regional influence could be eliminated. Data from churches in other regions is introduced as both helpful and needed, making this study focused on the Dallas region but not exclusive to it.

In one way, the focus of megachurches is helpful for a study of Executive Pastors. Megachurches were the early adopters of the role of Executive Pastors. Northwest Bible Church used the role briefly in the late 1980’s and then resurrected the position after a church crisis in 1998. Some churches with less than two thousand in worship, to use the Hartford’s baseline number, have adopted the Executive Pastor position. The measurement of this, however, should be left to future research.

Case Study of Stonebriar Community Church

The case study on Stonebriar demonstrates that the Executive Pastor implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and enacts the policies of the Elder Board. Few churches have gathered as much national publicity as the founding of Stonebriar Community Church by Chuck Swindoll. By growing tenfold within six months of inception, the church became an instant megachurch. To effectively handle this growth of staff and ministries, Stonebriar added an Executive Pastor within three months of its founding. The Case Study Interview Questions and the Executive Pastor Indicator demonstrate a strong Executive Pastor who manages the church while shepherding the church and assisting the Senior Pastor.

CS-IQ of an “Instant Megachurch”

The Case Study Interview Questions were used to understand the history and culture of Stonebriar Community Church. These questions were primarily answered by the Senior Executive Pastor, David Chavanne. Other information came from the extensive printed literature supplied by the church, the church’s website, and articles in the national media. Stonebriar Community Church is a fascinating study with its unique history, Senior Pastor of international renown, and dramatic church growth.

News reports assert that the seeds of Stonebriar Community Church germinated in 1994. The Dallas Morning News reports that “When the Rev. Charles Swindoll became president of Dallas Theological Seminary four years ago, he vowed he wasn’t giving up on leading a church.” Later in the same article, “Seminary spokesman Michael Edwards said Dr. Swindoll ‘has talked all along about wanting a pulpit, ever since he came here. Everyone knew he was going to be in a pulpit. I don’t think they knew he would start a church. He’s a pastor at heart.’” The first thought of a church plant was not in Dallas:

In 1994, when Mr. Swindoll was named Dallas Theological Seminary’s president, he was pastor of First Evangelical Church in Fullerton, California, where Sunday attendance often topped 6,000. When he took the Dallas job, he announced plans to start a new church in Nashville, Tennessee, and move his radio program there. He said he liked Nashville better than Dallas, which he considered too metropolitan, and thought he could commute between the two jobs. But he never found people in Nashville who were willing to start a new church.

When the Nashville idea didn’t work, he looked at existing churches in Dallas: ‘Then he talked seriously with two Dallas churches Scofield Memorial Church in Lake Highlands and Fellowship Bible Church in Far North Dallas. Neither provided the right fit.’

Three years later in November 1997, plans were made for a new church in the Dallas area:

Plans for the church began coming together in November, when Dallas businessman Richard Weyand approached Dr. Swindoll and his wife, Cynthia, about starting a church in Frisco. Mr. Weyand and his wife, Kay Lynn, moved to Frisco seven years ago but continued their membership at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, where they’ve been members since 1972.

Perhaps unknown to Swindoll, Northwest Bible Church had plans dating back to 1991 to begin a new church in the Frisco area. However, those plans never left the drawing board.

The appendix details a leadership crisis at Northwest in the late 1990’s. As members of Northwest left and went to Stonebriar, some members of Stonebriar referred to Stonebriar as “Northwest North.” Other members went to Watermark Community Church and other churches in the Dallas area. However, Northwest recovered from this “pruning” and now has more people in worship than in the 1990’s. While some would expect animosity between the churches because of these events, the leaders of Northwest have a warm collegial relationship with both Stonebriar and Watermark. The leadership crisis of Northwest did bring to the forefront the need for an Executive Pastor at Northwest. The position was briefly filled in the late 1980’s, but abandoned for a decade. This researcher has filled that position since 1999. A future researcher could utilize this material as the basis for an investigation into crisis events that lead to the creation of the Executive Pastor position.

In July 1998, Swindoll was ready to make a public announcement about the beginning of a new church:

On Thursday he made good on his promise, announcing that he is organizing a new interdenominational congregation on a 60-acre cornfield in Frisco. He said he will continue his roles as seminary president and as the broadcaster of ‘Insight for Living,’ a radio program aired worldwide 1,600 times daily. The new congregation, to be called Stonebriar Community Church, will begin meeting by early fall.

When a leader of such stature in the Christian community plants a church, one expects it to start big and then grow:

This will not be just any new church. Organizers expect it to grow quickly to megachurch status because Dr. Swindoll, 63, is a world-renowned preacher and author with a huge following willing to drive for miles to hear him. And the church will be situated in a wealthy, rapidly growing suburban frontier. ‘With the kind of growth we’re seeing out in the Frisco area, I can envision a remarkable beginning as folks from all over, searching for this kind of church, can find what they have been hungering for,’ Dr. Swindoll, who likes to be called Chuck, said in a prepared statement.

From the beginning, Swindoll had a clear purpose and direction for the church:

In his statement, Dr. Swindoll described the church as a place ‘where Christ will be exalted and God’s people will be nurtured—people of all ages, colors, cultures and backgrounds.’  He plans to bring to the church a mixture of ‘great music, meaningful worship, in-depth relationships, evangelistic zeal and, certainly, a strong Bible-teaching ministry.’

In the Dallas tradition of megachurches, it seemed another one was about to begin.

As hoped and expected, Stonebriar Community Church began with sizeable numbers and then rapidly grew. News reports commonly used the word double to describe the rapid growth: “‘They had 200 people show up the first night,’ says Swindoll’s aide, Emily Edwards. ‘That went to 400 the next week and doubled again the third week.’” Christianity Today documents the rapid growth: “The congregation first met when 300 people gathered October 14 at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco. Less than a month later, they moved to Trinity Christian Academy in Addison for three Wednesdays.” Though there is a discrepancy between these two news accounts, the overwhelming fact is that Stonebriar rapidly grew.

By late 1998, the church began meeting on Sundays: “In December, 750 people turned out each week for its first Sunday services.” In an April 26, 1999 report in Christianity Today, the church was reported as needing a second service: “This month, the non-denominational Stonebriar Community Church will add a second service. Construction is beginning on a 2,500-seat auditorium a mere stopgap until a 6,000-seat sanctuary can be built.” Also by April, Stonebriar had grown to the Hartford Institute’s measurable level of megachurch, two thousand people. The growth of the first five months can be represented in a chart:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

One of Stonebriar’s pastors gives an interesting aside: “The church has advertised only once, and the attendance jumped from 1,100 to 2,000, according to associate pastor Mark Dane, who is married to one of Swindoll’s daughters, Colleen. No more advertising is expected until the church moves into larger quarters.”

There has been discussion in the national press about Stonebriar. The Dallas Morning News examined the growth of the church and the role of Swindoll as a radio preacher:

‘He’s got a winsome spirit about him, somewhat like Billy Graham,’ said Larry Eskridge, associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College in Illinois. ‘He’s able to present his own experiences and spiritual pilgrimages, and people identify with him.’

Dr. Eskridge said that although most Americans are familiar with television evangelists such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, in-the-know evangelicals pay more attention to radio preachers such as Mr. Swindoll, who is president of Dallas Theological Seminary.

‘He becomes sort of a daily friend,’ Dr. Eskridge said.

Dr. Eskridge makes an important assertion as it relates to the beginning of Stonebriar. Many of the initial attendees felt that they had a relationship, albeit through radio, with Swindoll. The article continues with a case in point:

Which is the reason Dan Durick immediately joined when he heard that Mr. Swindoll was starting Stonebriar.

‘I’ve listened to him on the radio for years,’ said Mr. Durick, a Lewisville caterer who is donating a weekly breakfast buffet for the burgeoning congregation.

So far, he said, he has donated 500 pounds of coffee, 100 gallons of juice, 40 dozen bagels and 40 dozen muffins. This month he expects to double the amount of food he loads up at 4:00 a.m. each Sunday to bring to worship.

As Mr. Durick chatted, droves of people filled the gymnasium at Collin County Community Colleges Preston Ridge Campus, where the new church meets. Congregants sat on 750 white patio chairs so new that the room smelled of plastic.

Stonebriar initially attracted those who knew of Swindoll through either his radio preaching, books, or presidency of Dallas Seminary. As seen with Dan Durick, some of these early attenders had a high commitment to the fledgling church.

From the beginning, Stonebriar had critics who addressed both the planting of the church and its future transition:

‘Mr. Swindoll may need a free spirit to keep the church successful,’ according to Carol Childress, director of information for Leadership Network, an evangelical Christian think tank in Dallas. ‘You have to have glue to hold people together,’ Ms. Childress said.  ‘As wonderful a preacher as Chuck Swindoll is, he can’t be that glue. Because at some point he won’t be there.’  She said Stonebriar will need to pay attention to important trends. One is the increasing use of the senses in worship not just listening to a sermon, but also seeing artwork, touching fabric and brick, even smelling incense.  Another trend is the waning of superstar preachers as people’s main reason for choosing a church, she said. But none of that is insurmountable for one essential reason, she said: ‘Chuck Swindoll is such a fantastic communicator.’

This line of thinking assumes that the church will be started and built around Chuck Swindoll. To counter this, one may consider that Swindoll was a successful pastor of a church in Fullerton, California, which continued beyond Swindoll’s departure in 1994.

Another line of criticism centered on starting another large church, with the assumption that the attendees would come from small churches.  Several Letters to the Editor were received and published in Christianity Today in 1999:

Regarding the April 26 news article ‘Church Growth: Swindoll Starts Instant Megachurch’

[North American Report], I was saddened to see that CT represents what is happening in Frisco, Texas, at Stonebriar Community Church as church ‘growth.’ Are these multiplying numbers new converts or is this just the feeding frenzy of media-struck evangelicals? Has anyone checked with the emptying local churches who don’t have the advantage of a major media personality and his financial backing? Do they agree with Chuck Swindoll that ‘God is at work here or this would not have happened?’ When will we get it that ‘big’ doesn’t mean ‘blessing’ from God? Indeed, it may be undermining what he is doing through ‘small.’  Don Buckingham, Dublin, Ohio

If he missed preaching, why didn’t Chuck volunteer 25 or 30 weekends a year to go out to the places where some of his seminary graduates are struggling to build churches? Douglas Connelly, Flint, Michigan

Is Chuck Swindoll’s ‘instant megachurch’ an indication of the condition that American Christianity has fallen to at the end of the twentieth century? Nowhere in the article is there any indication of any evangelism taking place through the preaching of Dr. Swindoll at his new church, which there surely would be if he had indeed made 2,000 new converts. Now that would really be news! Jon Eric Pipes, Keswick, Ontario, Canada

I hope I’m wrong, but I find it hard to believe that Stonebriar Community found 2,000 unchurched or pagan boomers and gen-Xers just waiting for someone to invite them to church. William Pile, Los Angeles, California

There is a great deal of speculation in these letters. Perhaps some future researcher can substantially determine whether the new members came from existing megachurches, existing small to medium-sized churches, no church home or no church background. Whatever the source of the new members, by the time of these letters in June 1999, two thousand people called Stonebriar their church home. Yet, the church continued to grow.

By January, 2001, Stonebriar had completed its first building: “And next Sunday, the 3-year-old congregation of Stonebriar Community Church will worship for the first time in a building of its own when it opens the doors of a new 115,000-square-foot facility on a 60-acre site in Frisco. Pick practically any city in Collin County where the homebuilders are busy, and you’ll find a religious-building boom going on, too.”

Stonebriar continued rapid growth beyond two thousand worshippers. In January 2003, David Welsh, Stonebriar’s Director of Administrative Services, discussed the growth issues in an exclusive interview in Church Executive Magazine:

We’re at 3,200 in attendance, and that’s also a part of the challenge. In some ways we model some of the IT companies that just blew up in size ten years ago and grew so fast, and quite frankly, we’ve made the same kinds of mistakes. But you evolve and you get an opportunity like the one we have now. We have two worship services, and we have a worship center that seats 1,500 people. At least we’ve got a chance right now to catch up and do some of the kinds of programs our members are requesting. For example, we had our first fall festival this year. Here we are doing something like this for the first time, and our challenge is that we’re not like a lot of other churches—we didn’t start off with 50 kids; we started off with 1,000 kids.

In building a facility for an instant megachurch, there were significant challenges that Stonebriar faced. Welsh commented in the same article:

We held a two-day elder and senior staff retreat where each ministry planned out the next five years. We realized that planning is the very first step. We also had to differentiate between the needs and the wants—What are the needs of the congregation? What are the demographics in the community? What’s the target market? How do all those things fit into the goals for ministry?

I have learned that building a facility is a huge commitment not to be taken lightly. The key is to have a vision of what you want. I think a lot of people go into construction projects not having an absolutely clear vision of what they want, and they expect the architect to come up with that vision. I think if you do that without communicating it clearly, you’re going to have some misunderstandings and some issues.

I did not employ a professional cost estimator on a previous project. I thought I was doing the right thing by bringing in a general contractor on the front end of the project. He was too conservative in his estimates, causing the church to build too small a room for a growing worship service. I regret that to this day!

In the same article, Greg Welsh attributes a great deal of mentoring and encouragement to David Chavanne, Stonebriar’s Executive Pastor.

By 2003, the church had grown to have a General Fund of almost six million dollars, with an additional six hundred thousand in Building Fund donations that fiscal year. The growth of Stonebriar can be charted from its first meetings in October 1998 to January 2003:

(To view graphic, please see original PDF below article)

The church has remained at thirty-two hundred worshippers in the two worship services. One wonders how the church would grow if they added a third service or built a larger worship center.

The church of explosive growth desperately needed staff pastors. By January 1999, the church had two staff members: “Two of the Swindolls four grown children have followed them here. Colleen Dane, who is coordinating the children’s ministry, moved with her husband, the Rev. Mark Dane, one of the associate pastors, and their three small children. And Chuck Swindoll Jr. will serve as the sound engineer. He brought his wife, Jeni, and their two small children.” Within two months, the church would add an Executive Pastor. In the Dallas style of megachurches, Stonebriar was born an instant megachurch and had an Executive Pastor to oversee it.

At the current time, the issue of church governance for Stonebriar Community Church is difficult to document. The four-year-old church has a Charter Constitution and is still working on an official constitution. Currently, new Elders are appointed by the existing Elder Board. The church does not hold congregational meetings to discuss or vote on issues. The Senior Pastor is appointed by the Elder Board and the Senior Pastor appoints, or delegates responsibility to appoint, all other staff. The future polity of the church is unknown but is assumed to follow the current format. The church has a conservative evangelical doctrinal statement.

While the governance issues may trouble those who prefer a more congregational style of government, Stonebriar endeavors to communicate well with its members. The church spends a considerable amount of time and money on many communication pieces including a website, a ten-page monthly newsletter, ministry updates and informational flyers. The church posts financial information in the monthly newsletter and on the church’s website. The church leadership has been forthcoming with discussing difficult issues. This is exemplified by David Welsh in his interview with Church Executive magazine. The openness in discussing challenging issues for Stonebriar is spearheaded by Swindoll. To over thirty pastors, Swindoll and his pastors presented an honest assessment of Stonebriar and gave candid answers to questions in a Dallas Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry course.

An item of future study will be the Constitution of Stonebriar and the potential inclusion of the Executive Pastor into that document. Some churches include both the Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor in the church’s organizational documents. One such church is Lake Avenue Congregation Church of Pasadena, California, including the position of Executive Pastor in its Bylaws:

The Pastoral Team shall consist of an Executive Pastor who shall be the chief operating officer of the church staff …

Duties of the Executive Pastor. The Executive Pastor shall be directly responsible to the Senior Pastor. He shall be a member of the Ministry Council and a member ex-officio without vote of all Ministry Divisions. The Executive Pastor shall have charge of and supervise Pastoral Team members as assigned by the Senior Pastor in accordance with the responsibilities of the Ministry Teams and Ministry Divisions to which each is assigned. In the absence of the Senior Pastor, the Executive Pastor shall perform the duties of the Senior Pastor.

Duties of the Pastoral Team. Each Pastoral Team member other than the Executive Pastor shall be responsible to the Executive Pastor, through an Associate Pastoral Team member whom the Executive Pastor shall designate, and shall have responsibilities as set forth in a position description prepared by the Executive Pastor and approved by the responsible Ministry Division, the Personnel Committee, and the Senior Pastor.

A future researcher may find that Stonebriar and other churches include the Executive Pastor in the organizational documents of the church. The potential benefit of this is to codify the role of the Executive Pastor and to define the chain of command authority in the church staff. The potential downfall of such inclusion is that it mandates the position of Executive Pastor. Should the church decide to redefine the role of the Executive Pastor, then the church would have to change its organizational documents.

Another vehicle to convey church governance and chain of command authority is through job descriptions. The job profile for the Executive Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church provides insight on these areas:

To assist the Senior Pastor as the Executive Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church. His primary responsibility will be the supervision of the senior staff and oversight of the ministries of the Church so that the Senior Pastor can continue his main responsibility of ‘teaching and preaching of God’s Word.’

The Senior Executive Pastor’s task will be to assist, not replace, the Senior Pastor in these areas. The desired end would be to increase the Senior Pastor’s actual time with the senior staff for the purpose of relationship, vision and ministry, yet decrease his actual time and involvement in the preparation and continuity of these responsibilities.

This purpose of the Executive Pastor of Stonebriar fits within the thesis of this dissertation, to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor. That task is specifically addressed in the phrases “to assist, not replace the Senior Pastor” and “his primary responsibility will be the supervision of the senior staff.” The purpose of the Executive Pastor at Stonebriar is to allow the Senior Pastor to focus on teaching and preaching. The Executive Pastor is to be the second in command, clearly defining the chain of command authority. He is the lone staff member who reports to the Senior Pastor, with all other senior staff reporting to him.

The job description from Stonebriar also addresses the issue of the Executive Pastor implementing the policy of the governing board. It says that the Executive Pastor shall “implement the direction and plans that originate in the Board of Elders,” and “oversee long-range strategic plans for the ministry. The Elders of Stonebriar recognized that it is not in the best interests of the church for Chuck Swindoll to implement the policy and plans of the Elders. An organizational chart of Stonebriar can be constructed:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

The role of the Finance Committee and Chief Financial Officer is discussed below in the Executive Pastor Interview. As the Executive Pastor also serves on the Elder Board, the Executive Pastor reviews the work of the Finance Committee.

The history section of the Case Study Interview Questions for Stonebriar Community Church shows an instant megachurch founded by a Seminary President and internationally recognized radio preacher, who at the foremost considers himself a pastor. The rapid growth of the church, to two thousand worshippers within fourteen months and over three thousand in three years, is a significant causative factor for the employment of the Executive Pastor within months of the church’s founding. The continuance of Swindoll as President of Dallas Seminary for two years after the church’s founding is a second significant causative factor for the strong second-in-command role of an Executive Pastor at Stonebriar. This section has demonstrated the need for an Executive Pastor at Stonebriar to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board.

The Executive Pastor Interview

The Executive Pastor Interview is a part of the Case Study Interview Questions. This section is exclusively derived from a personal interview with David Chavanne, Senior Executive Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church. David Chavanne and Chuck Swindoll got to know one another socially through hunting trips organized through Dallas Theological Seminary. In one of the first services at Stonebriar, Swindoll mentioned one of those trips: “Mr. Swindoll started by telling congregants he’d gotten a rifle, a shotgun and a knife for Christmas which he intended to use during a father-son hunting trip sponsored by Dallas Theological Seminary this weekend. He invited his giggling congregants to sign up for the trip.” In addition to the hunting trips, David was the Chairman of Alumni contributions for a capital campaign of Dallas Seminary. The two men knew each other, but were not close. They had never talked about church business or theology.

Before coming to Stonebriar Community Church, David Chavanne had been a pastor in a Bible church in Shreveport for twenty-one years, followed by four years in Houston. In 1998 and 1999, David was recovering from cancer and building a family ranch in the Texas hill country. He was serving as Vice President of the Oldham Little Church Foundation, a non-profit organization which assists churches of under three hundred people in attendance. One day in 1999, Chuck Swindoll called and David thought that Chuck was asking for a grant. “Chuck said, ‘I don’t want your money, I want you.’ He challenged me to leave this wonderful life and come to Stonebriar, having met for three months; they only had three staff members and two thousand worshippers. My wife and I were two weeks away from moving into our dream home. Well, we came up, met, prayed and I said ‘yes.’”

From the working relationship, the two men became close friends. The bonds of a quality partnership were forged in the sweat of ministry:

We work well together. I protect his time and energy. I do things in his absence the way he would do them, and this was especially true in my first two years at Stonebriar. We have fun together and love doing ministry together. It’s a good partnership. He lets me do what I want to do in my role here. Chuck never says ‘David do this,’ but he says ‘might we do this.’ I take it seriously that when I make decisions that this is the way Chuck would do it. Because of this, he rarely questions my decisions. A value for us is that both of us bring different gifts and approaches. We think the same theologically with the same core values; the way we do church is the same; music, preaching, children, etc. Chuck is very accountable and so am I.

The result is the close relationship where the two men feel they complement one another.  David says, “Chuck is a pastor and great teacher, not an administrator.” With a degree in business from Baylor University, David oversees church management and administration. From his pastoral experience, the shepherding role is also important to David. He views himself as a pastor to the staff more than to the church.

David Chavanne does not want to be a micromanager but an overseer of senior staff. With the candor modeled by Swindoll, and evidenced by many on Stonebriar’s staff, Chavanne comments that “early on, because of the growth factor at Stonebriar, I was micromanaging. It was a difficult transition to get away from it, but I did it—and it’s a lot better for me. I don’t have my fingerprint on everything.” David moved to a place of casting the Senior Pastor’s vision on where to go and has staff implement the vision. Chavanne says, “Chuck casts vision to the congregation, leadership and staff; I implement the vision through the staff.” One way in which Chavanne shares the church’s vision to the congregation is through periodic preaching when Swindoll is away.

A part of Chavanne’s job profile includes him serving as one of the Elders with full voting rights. Three of the Elders are pastoral staff, Swindoll, Chavanne and Dr. Mark Young. Dr. Young serves over the area of Ministry Training and is also Professor of World Missions and Intercultural Studies at Dallas Seminary. Four of the Elders are laymen, serving terms of indefinite length. Stonebriar wants to have no more than twelve elders but a minimum of three. David says that “a smaller Board is good. It’s easy to meet. All our decisions have been unanimous decisions and we don’t leave the room until there is unanimity. We sit as long as it takes to make a unanimous decision. There are no rubber stamps and, yes, there have been some strong disagreements.”

Oversight of the church and staff is under David. David has six Pastors and two Directors report to him: The Pastors oversee Pastoral Ministries, Music & Worship, Children, Biblical Ministries (which contains Jr. High through Adult Fellowships), Missions & Outreach, and Ministry Training. For theological reasons, only men are pastors at Stonebriar. Men and women can serve as Directors. The two Directors that report to David oversee Human Resources and Communications.

The Chief Financial Officer has a dotted line relationship to David. The CFO reports to the Finance Committee, which reports to the Board. Thus, budget and financial matters do not report to David, except that he is an Elder serving on the Board. Initially, the CFO did report to David. Due to Chavanne’s workload, he requested for that reporting relationship to cease. For setting the budget, the Finance Committee gives a lump sum figure to David. He reviews and amends the ministry budgets submitted by staff and sets compensation for all staff except himself and Chuck. The Chairman of the Board and Chuck do an annual evaluation of David and the Chairman determines the salary of both men. The budget is then submitted to the Board. Chavanne says that “the Board is not involved in the working approval of the budget but gives the final approval.” David sees that having the CFO report to him would now be acceptable, as the initial crunch of hiring staff is done and the first building project is completed.

David Chavanne views one of his primary tasks is to lead the staff well. This is done with a variety of meetings, evaluations and ministry audits. Chavanne conducts or oversees both annual and ongoing evaluations of all staff. In addition to annual reviews, the church has established a ministry audit every two years. There is a variety of staff meetings. In a group setting, Chavanne meets on the first Tuesday of each month with all those who report directly to him. David also meets individually during the week with each of these direct reports. In terms of the entire pastoral staff, there is a weekly meeting for all the pastors and directors. Chuck Swindoll leads this meeting when he can, otherwise David leads. For the first two years of David’s tenure at Stonebriar, he led the meeting as Chuck was off-site serving as President of Dallas Seminary. There is a meeting of all employees once a month, and again David or Chuck leads it. For any staff meeting, “I always give Chuck a copy of the agenda, whether Chuck can be present or is absent.” The meetings have a devotional, time for prayer, relational aspects, and ministry business. David likes to cover what went on the week before in ministry, such as a Jr. High trip or outreach event. He encourages the staff to talk about the ministry as a whole, with mutual encouragement. To emphasize the relational aspect of the ministry, staff do not receive the meeting agenda. Chavanne views this as a way to help the staff talk back and forth, allowing a flexible approach to the meetings.

David understands that close communication with the Senior Pastor is imperative. Yet, this is a challenge as Chuck is scheduled only to be in the office all day on Tuesdays and half a day on Wednesdays. The two talk daily, mostly by email.  This allows them to discuss issues, set meeting agendas, and continue a smooth working relationship.

When it comes to hiring, David Chavanne now prefers to look internally for candidates. When the church was in the intense start-up phase, this was not possible. They encountered difficulty when staff were hired that did not share the same purpose and values as Stonebriar. The church found that the interview process often proved ineffective in helping them get to know the ministry styles of candidates. Now that the church is maturing, they have the ability to internally develop future staff. “There are two of the pastors who could rise to the executive level.Many of the interns could be promoted to fill one of several roles and probably have a passion for one.”

David oversees the process to fill a vacant Pastor or Director position. This process entails the creation or review of a job profile, posting the position both internally and externally, reviewing the preferred internal candidates and reviewing external resumes. In the review of resumes, the top ten candidates are narrowed down to three. The top three are brought before all the pastoral staff and Chuck. There is a written evaluation and all pastoral staff give their opinions to Chuck and David. Then, David makes a final recommendation to Chuck; Chuck makes the decision to hire.

Stonebriar has had its share of staff transitions. David notes that “all have been different. Most were early, and we had one bad pick. We deeply desire to try to make it work and try hard to make it work. However, if someone is not working, we don’t keep an employee for sentimental reasons. We make the hard choice and try to encourage them to see that it is not working. It is harder and more dangerous to keep someone who is not working, so we often did a three to six month transition. We tell them that they are not leaving ministry, just this one. Also, we make every effort to help them get a new place.”  Common questions in the transition process are: “Are you happy here? How to you feel the team views you? Is there chemistry here?” David noted that some staff came with false expectations in the new church: “Chuck is the biggest part of the expectation. You’re not going to be in conversation with Chuck every week, but he is an encourager.” David regrets “the number of people we lost, people that didn’t work out here; I want people to be here a long time.” He reports that the total turnover was less than twenty-five percent of the total number of current staff, “which is not unusual for a fast growing church of our size.”

David Chavanne enjoys the diversity of the Executive Pastor role. “Every day is different. What I love about the job is it covers such a breadth of the church, what you want it to be; you can make it into so many things, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.” There can be potential pitfalls for an Executive Pastor, as Chavanne comments: “If the Senior Pastor is a great delegator, and empowers you to do it, then it is a wonderful, challenging, different position. You must have gifts that fit the role and not be in competition with the Senior Pastor. The Executive Pastor must complement, not protect the Senior Pastor.” For David Chavanne, there is no discussion about him becoming the next Senior Pastor of Stonebriar: “It’s not what I am called to do, nor want to do; I would want to help them find a new Senior Pastor, not me.”

Stonebriar has a unique history. The rate of growth posed huge problems with regards to church culture, buildings, pastoral staff and ministries. The solution for Stonebriar was an early adoption of the role of Executive Pastor. The position was charged with running the church in the frequent absence of the Senior Pastor. The Executive Pastor was given the responsibility of being the Chief of Staff and an Elder.

XP-I Results of the Three Multidimensional Roles

The purpose of the Executive Pastor Indicator is to further explore the role and function of the Executive Pastor. The findings of the XP-I for David Chavanne are consistent with those of the Case Study Interview Questions. At Stonebriar, the Executive Pastor and seven pastoral staff members completed an XP-I.

Concerning the Three Multidimensional Roles, David Chavanne reports an almost balanced view of the Shepherd, Assistant and Executive roles:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Compared to the results of other Executive Pastors, this contains a strong Assistant Role. In David Chavanne’s job profile, he has a clear mandate to “assist, not replace, the Senior Pastor. Maintain daily contact with the Senior Pastor. Assist with details concerned with worship services.”

Chavanne’s results can be compared to the combined results of seven pastoral staff members of Stonebriar. They report a slightly different picture of David Chavanne:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

The seven pastoral staff members present a seven percent higher evaluation of the Executive Role. This difference in perception may be accounted in Chavanne’s job profile, where he has a mandate to: “Implement plans of Elders. Work with the other pastors to coordinate and carry out the ministry of the church. Represent Senior Pastor among staff, moderating staff meetings.”

David Chavanne also sees a stronger Shepherd Role than the seven pastoral staff members. This again has a foundation in his job profile: “Meet spiritual needs with sound biblical teaching, encouragement, mentoring, discipline, nurturing, and protecting with Ministry Values and Core Values. Serve as an Elder … so that the Senior Pastor can continue his main responsibility of ‘teaching and preaching of God’s Word.’” The data from all three roles can be combined into one table:

                                Executive      Shepherd      Assistant

David Chavanne          37%                   34%                  29%

Pastoral Staff               44%                    30%                 26%

In conclusion, Chavanne reports stronger Shepherd and Assistant Roles while the seven pastoral staff members present a significantly stronger Executive Role.

Role Comparisons with Richland Bible Church

There are several explanations for the divergent Executive Pastor Indicator responses from Stonebriar Community Church. One explanation is that the XP-I could be invalid when reporting the Three Multidimensional Roles. Data from other churches, however, shows the XP-I able to accurately measure these three roles. An example of consistent measurement can be found in analyzing the Three Multidimensional Roles at Richland Bible Church of Richland, Michigan.

Twenty-one people at Richland Bible Church completed the Executive Pastor Indicator. This included the Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, five pastoral staff members, seven Elders and seven support staff. The Executive Pastor reported that forty-five percent of his job is in the Executive Role:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

With a rating of forty-six percent, the Senior Pastor of Richland presents a similar response about the Executive Role:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The responses of five pastoral staff of Richland can be combined into one chart.  The staff has a slightly lower Executive role score with forty-three percent:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

Seven Elders of Richland Bible Church view the Executive Pastor as having forty-four percent of his job in the Executive Role:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

Seven support staff of Richland who completed the Indicator view the Executive Role at forty-two percent:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

In looking at the Executive Role, the twenty-one respondents of Richland Bible present a range of response between forty-two and forty-six percent:

# Respondents                 Title                   Executive

               7                          Support staff                   42%

              5                           Pastoral staff                   43%

              7                           Elders                                44%

              1                           Executive Pastor             45%

              1                           Senior Pastor                   46%

The vast majority of the responses are divergent by only two percent. This two percent difference may be accounted for by error in the Indicator or by true individual responses. Interestingly, the four percent difference of all respondents increases from the support staff to the Senior Pastor. The minor variation in perception of the Executive Role could be due to how the various levels of staff and leadership interact with the Executive Pastor. The support staff, pastoral staff and Elders report similar results for the Executive Role, with the Executive and Senior Pastor quite close. With regard to the Executive Role at Richland, the point to be taken is that there is great consistency among all respondents.

The data from Richland contains similar groupings of data for the Assistant and Shepherd Roles, yet some respondents report dissimilar results. With regard to the Assistant Role, more than half of the respondents present an identical report. The support staff and Elders present the same response, with the pastoral staff quite close:

# Respondents               Title                       Assistant

                      7                           Support staff                    27%

              7                           Elders                                27%

              5                            Pastoral staff                   25%

              1                            Senior Pastor                   22%

              1                            Executive Pastor             19%

As with the Executive Role, the Senior and Executive Pastors report dissimilar results from the majority. The Assistant role has nineteen respondents within two percentage points of each other. Yet, the Executive Pastor differs by upwards of eight percentage points.

There is also a grouping of results and some dissimilarity in the Shepherd Role at Richland Bible Church. With this role, twenty of the respondents are within three percentage points of one another:

# Respondents               Title                         Shepherd

              7                             Support staff                    29%

              7                             Elders                                31%

             5                              Pastoral staff                    32%

             1                               Senior Pastor                   32%

             1                              Executive Pastor              36%

The Senior Pastor joins the other nineteen respondents in a similar view of the Shepherd Role. The Executive Pastor is the lone individual with a dissimilar response.

The findings from Richland Bible Church present an overwhelming consistency in nineteen of twenty-one respondents for each of the Three Multidimensional Roles. In the Executive Role, all respondents are quite close in their responses. The Senior Pastor joins the other three groups in similar findings for the Shepherd Role. For the Assistant Role, the Senior and Executive Pastors differ from the support staff, pastoral staff and Elders.

There are several readily apparent explanations for the reported differences in the results from the Executive Pastor of Richland Bible Church. One reason may be that Bob Feitl, the Executive Pastor, joined the staff in the second quarter of 2003. He had only been in the position for a short period of time when the Indicator was used. Previous to his tenure at Richland, Feitl had extensive experience as an Executive Pastor. In 1996, Feitl wrote about the role of the Executive Pastor:

The executive pastor is probably the alter ego of the senior pastor. He is the senior pastor’s trusted partner, but he is also his protector. While they walk together through many mine fields in the shepherd’s pasture, the executive pastor at the same time needs to be the shield against overwhelming details, and the general ‘noise’ of an active, growing, mega-church. The executive pastor is the defender of the senior pastor and his banner carrier, but also his trusted confronter.  The executive pastor is the senior pastor’s encourager, but in the next moment stands as the reality check. The executive pastor prepares the way ahead for the senior pastor, but also turns and follows behind assuring that the details of implementation and execution can and will be carried out.

Thus, the differences in reports may be due to Feitl’s adjusting to a new church milieu. A future researcher may utilize the Case Study Interview Questions to better understand the differences reported. A future researcher could also re-administer the XP-I to Richland Bible Church at a future date to examine possible congruence of findings.

Even in light of the differences with the reports by the Executive Pastor, there are important conclusions from Richland. Nineteen of twenty-one respondents present similar findings for the Three Multidimensional Roles. The consistent results from Richland show that the Executive Pastor Indicator can return cohesive reports and that the Interview Questions are needed to shed light on variations.

This information from Richland Bible can be applied to Stonebriar. At Richland, the Executive Pastor Indicator returned cohesive and similar findings, yet Stonebriar had some dissimilar findings. The Case Study Interview Questions shed light on Stonebriar and present is a plausible answer. The answer is found in the difference in which Chavanne and the senior staff view his role. David Chavanne sees himself first as an assistant to Chuck Swindoll, carrying out Swindoll’s vision for Stonebriar. Chavanne’s job description specifically calls for him to “assist, not replace, the Senior Pastor.” Thus, he sees himself in a strong Assistant Role. Also, the job description specifically cites him as a voting member of the Elder Board. Chavanne regularly preaches to the entire congregation and performs other overseeing functions. Thus, he sees himself in a strong Shepherd Role. For Chavanne, the Executive Role is important, but so are the Shepherd and Assistant Roles.

On the other hand, seven pastoral staff members of Stonebriar see Chavanne in a stronger Executive Role. David leads the staff meetings when Chuck is absent. He serves as the second-in-command. He is the executive who manages the church on a day-to-day basis. He oversees the annual reviews. Chavanne sets the budget and determines compensation. The pastoral staff relate to David Chavanne first in the Executive Role and so report that role stronger that Chavanne does.

Chapter three outlined prototypical results. These were the expected results of the Executive Pastor Indicator. Essentially, with little objective research found that preceded this dissertation, the prototypes were nothing more than educated guesses. Concerning the Three Multidimensional Roles, the prototype differs from the results of David Chavanne. He reports a stronger Shepherd Role and lesser Executive Role than expected. The pastoral staff of Stonebriar gives data closer to the expected prototype:

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The results from Chavanne and the staff are close to the prototype for the Five Focused Functions:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

This data demonstrates that for David Chavanne, the prototype was helpful in estimating the Roles and Functions.

Of thirty-two pastoral staff members who have taken the XP-I, a combined report shows that they tend to see the Executive Pastor in a strong Executive Role. They give an overall response of forty-two percent for the Executive Role:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

This combined response of thirty-two pastoral staff members is relatively close to the data that seven pastoral staff of Stonebriar reported about David Chavanne:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The data is between one and three percentage points different in each category. Thus, seven pastors see David Chavanne first as an Executive, and then understand him as an Assistant or Shepherd. They see Chavanne as many pastoral staff members see their Executive Pastors. Thus, the Executive Pastor Indicator is valid and accurately measures the Three Multidimensional Roles.

XP-I Results of the Five Focused Functions

The Executive Pastor Indicator measures not on the Three Multidimensional Roles but also the Five Focused Functions. The functions well represent the day-to-day function of the Executive Pastor. The data submitted by David Chavanne presents a high Overseer and Catalyst Function and low Administrator Function:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

As seen in the Interview Questions, during the intensive start-up phase of Stonebriar, Chavanne specifically asked for the financial oversight to be removed from his area of responsibility. As well, duties in the Administrator Function are absent from his job description. It can be said that Chavanne does some administrative duties, but not as much as other Executive Pastors. David’s responses can be compared with a combined report of eight Executive Pastors:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

David reports a slightly higher Catalyst Function than other Executive Pastors. This emphasis is reflected in his job profile: “Improvement of Ministry Operations:  Contributes toward the improvement of the ministry as a whole.”

In contrast, seven pastoral staff members of Stonebriar present a slightly different picture of Chavanne:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

To address first an area of commonality, the seven staff present an identical finding to Chavanne regarding the Mentor Function. David’s job profile lists this as a specific function:  “His primary responsibility will be the supervision of the senior staff … Mentor Executive Team.”

Chavanne and the staff also almost identically rate the Minister Function. This area is covered in his job profile: “Membership, Diaconate, communication, family conferences, pastoral internship program, ordinances, worship, weddings and funerals; preach; teach; pastoral care.” In terms of the strength of response chart, most Executive Pastors score below the baseline. Chavanne’s data is not irregular in this respect.

There are differences between the pastoral staff’s view and Chavanne’s in Administrator and Overseer Functions. Chavanne sees himself with a stronger Catalyst Function, while the pastoral staff see stronger Administrator and Overseer Functions. The staff see him as setting church procedures, budgets, and overseeing annual reviews. Chavanne may see this in line with his Catalyst Function and the staff may perceive this as an extension of the Overseer and Administrator Function. The Overseer Function is included in Chavanne’s job profile: “Oversight of the ministries of the Church. See that ministry plans stay on target. Oversee long-range strategic plan. Oversee paid and volunteer staff reporting directly to him.”

These findings compare with those from Richland Bible Church.   The data for the Executive Pastor of Richland indicates a strong Overseer and Mentor:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The data on the pastoral staff of Richland indicates an increase in the Administrator Function and a decrease in the Mentor Function:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

It would seem that as the Executive Pastor fulfills certain functions, that staff sees this in a different light. What David Chavanne may see as a strong Catalyst Function, the staff may be feeling the actions as Administrator and Overseer Functions.

Another way of understanding the results of the XP-I is to examine the questions that scored with clear answers. When the results of all eight respondents from Stonebriar are compiled, there are fourteen questions which averaged a “never” or “rarely,” which correlate to a numerical score of “1” and “2.”  This data can be seen in the following table:

Question                                                                                                                            Score

Preaches at least one-third of the time                                                                                  1.38

Teaches a Sunday Adult Class                                                                                                  1.62

Disciples believers as a large percentage of ministry time                                                 1.88

Counsels members as a significant portion of ministry time                                            2.00

Equips members for ministry as a large percentage of ministry time                             2.00

Instructs or leads a weekday class or small group                                                               2.12

Pastors just a part of the congregation as determined by job description                      2.25

Reports on finances for only a few areas of church ministry                                            2.25

Conceives design of new buildings                                                                                         2.50

Performs weddings so the Senior Pastor has time to focus on his ministry                 2.50

Conducts funerals so the Senior Pastor does not have to                                                 2.75

Lights fires frequently to get people involved in ministry                                                2.75

Reviews programs for only a small part of the entire church                                          2.75

Seeks out opportunities for members to share the gospel                                                2.88

The data represents that this Executive Pastor does not focus on teaching, preaching, equipping, counseling or discipling. He does not perform weddings and funerals in the place of the Senior Pastor.  He does not design new buildings. Yet, he is viewed as an overseer and shepherd to the entire congregation.

In contrast to the above data, there are seventeen questions from the Stonebriar respondents which averaged “usually,” which correlates to a numerical score of “6.” This data can be seen in the following table:

Question                                                                                                                          Score

Functions as the Chief Executive Officer                                                                            6.00

Manages all ministry by delegated responsibility                                                             6.12

Determines compensation for all staff                                                                                6.25

Exhorts any staff member as deemed necessary                                                               6.25

Oversees all church ministries                                                                                              6.25

Serves the Senior Pastor by “taking things off his plate”                                                6.25

Delegates buildings and grounds management to subordinate staff                           6.38

Ensures that budget development for the entire church is in line with vision           6.38

Administers policies of the governing board                                                                     6.50

Approves the procedures for running the church                                                            6.50

Discusses church-wide ministry with Senior Pastor and governing board                 6.50

Sees the Senior Pastor as the spiritual leader                                                                    6.50

Implements the vision of the Senior Pastor                                                                      6.62

Works as the Chief of Staff                                                                                                    6.62

Attends every meeting of the governing board, perhaps as a member                        6.75

Fills the position as the second in command to the Senior Pastor                               6.75

Occupies a powerful position                                                                                                6.88

The data shows that this Executive Pastor functions as the CEO, overseeing ministry and managing by delegation. As the second-in-command, he administers the policies of the Board and approves procedures for running the church. He ensures the budget is in line with vision. He is the Chief of Staff, setting compensation and exhorting staff. He assists the Senior Pastor, taking managerial duties off of his plate. Viewed in a powerful position, he is an Elder and discusses church-wide ministry with the Senior Pastor and Board.

Strength of Response Profile

The data is charted to show strength of response profiles. The charts have been included above for comparison, but need explanation. The first chart shows the values of each scale represented above or below the baseline. David Chavanne presents the following profile for the Three Multidimensional Roles:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

The pastoral staff of Stonebriar presents the following profile:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

These charts show the strength of response for each scale. The seven point Likert scale is converted to a positive and negative scale. Whereas a “4” on the Likert scale was the null point, “0” becomes that point on this chart. This allows for positive and negative charting of the respondent’s preferences.

Data can be compiled to create a strength of response chart that profiles a class of individuals. In the case of David Chavanne, his profile for the Three Multidimensional Roles is close to that of the combined data of twenty-three Elders, as seen in this chart of the Elders responses:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Elders tend to see a slightly stronger Shepherd role than other XP-I respondents. Chavanne reports a higher Assistant Role than the twenty-three Elders.

A second chart shows the absolute values of each scale. This is helpful for seeing the strength of response for each scale, without reference to positive or negative preferences within the scale. David Chavanne presents the following chart:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

This data shows that the Executive Role questions received the clearest answers. The Assistant questions scored more often near the null point.

Seven pastoral staff of Stonebriar present the following profile with a strong Executive Role:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

For comparison, eight Executive Pastors present the following profile:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

The profile from the eight Executive Pastors presents a stronger response than Chavanne on both the Assistant and Shepherd scales. Note, however, that this does not mean that these responses indicate a stronger preference for the scale, just a stronger answer on the seven point Likert scale. A “1” is as strong as a “7” as both are three points away from the median of “4.”

The strength of response profiles can also be constructed for the Five Focused Functions. David Chavanne presents the following absolute value profile:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

The pastoral staff of Stonebriar present the following chart:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

In this view, it is easy to see David’s lower Administrator Function and his marked preference for the Overseer and Catalyst Function. One can also see the staff’s observation about a higher Administrator Function. Charting the same data with positive and negative values presents the following chart from David Chavanne:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

The pastoral staff of Stonebriar scores less Catalyst and Minister Functions:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Again, it should be noted that the responses to the XP-I generally present the Minister Function below the baseline.

David Chavanne’s profile of the Five Focused Functions is quite similar to that of the Senior Pastors who completed the XP-I:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Senior Pastors tend to see a strong Catalyst Function in their Executive Pastors. Chavanne’s profile may be due to his serving for over twenty years as a Senior Pastor. Chavanne follows this pattern, except for also having a strong Overseer Function. This is most likely due to David’s role as second-in-command for Swindoll, who is only in the church office a day and a half each week. Thus, he serves as Overseer in the Senior Pastor’s absence.

Section Summary

The Case Study Interview Questions show Stonebriar as an instant megachurch that needed an Executive Pastor to manage the new church. David Chavanne filled that position within three months of the church’s founding. The Executive Pastor Indicator showed the seven pastoral staff members showing Chavanne with a strong Executive Role. As the Senior Pastor was away from the church during weekdays for the first two years, the church needed a second-in-command who could organize and structure the staff. With a background as a Senior Pastor, Chavanne also brought a strong Shepherding Role. In this role, he was able to oversee the emerging ministry. His ability to carry out the vision of the Senior Pastor shows a strong Assistant Role. The Interview Questions helped explain divergent responses to the Executive Pastor Indicator, showing that the Indicator was a valid instrument. In light of the thesis of this dissertation, David Chavanne implements the vision of Chuck Swindoll and enacts the policies of the Elder Board. There is a functional need for the Executive Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church.

Case Study of Irving Bible Church

The second in-depth case study is Irving Bible Church. Though different in style and approach from Stonebriar, this case study discovers an Executive Pastor who also implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and enacts the policies of the Elder Board. Coupled with strong church growth, few churches have had such a successful relocation effort as Irving. Irving added the position of Executive Pastor one year after relocating to their new church home. The Case Study Interview Questions and the Executive Pastor Indicator shows an Executive Pastor with a strong Catalyst Function, yet is also an able non-bureaucratic administrator. As was done with Stonebriar Community Church, other data will be compared and contrasted to Irving as the case study is presented. Evidence will be presented to demonstrate that the Executive Pastor of Irving Bible Church implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and enacts the policies of the Elder Board.

CS-IQ of a Church Relocated

Irving Bible Church has a carefully defined purpose statement: “Engaging spiritually uninvolved people in the joyous adventure of pursuing Christ’s best.” The church gives an explanatory paragraph about the purpose statement:

Each word in this statement is carefully chosen. We want people at IBC to be ‘engaged’ in the Christian life—not entertained, not side-lined, not baby sat, but empowered, motivated, actively involved in life and the dynamic pursuit of spiritual truth. We want to engage ‘spiritually uninvolved people,’ either unbelievers who desperately need to meet and love the Savior or believers who have been shelved by spiritual ineffectiveness or lack of opportunity. We want to engage people spiritually in the ‘joyous adventure’ of knowing, trusting, and obeying Christ, helping them to experience God’s grace, goodness, and greatness in ways which charge their souls and overflow their hearts with joy. And we want people to be passionate for ‘Christ’s best,’ the highest and holiest and grandest calling in life to which any believer can aspire and for which any price is ultimately worth.

The church seeks to live out this purpose statement in diverse ministries. As is seen later in this section, Irving endeavors to live out the vision statement, even in the design of their buildings.

Irving Bible Church is an Elder-led church with a conservative evangelical doctrinal statement. The church Constitution requires “the government of the church shall be vested in the Board of Elders who, as the elected representatives of the people, provide leadership to the church under the direction of the Holy Spirit.” Elders are approved by a two-thirds majority of the congregation for a three year term, which may be renewed. Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution defines the role of the Elders at Irving Bible:

The elders shall be responsible to shepherd the flock through guiding and assisting the members of the church and guarding them against false teaching (Acts 20:28ff; 1 Pet. 5:1-3). They shall lead the flock through their godly example (1 Pet. 5:3), teach and exhort (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9), refute those who contradict truth (Acts 20:29-31; Titus 1:9), and pray for the sick when summoned (James 5:14). As the highest governing body in the church, they shall be responsible for the overall management of the church (1 Tim. 3:5, 5:7) by setting policy, by approving an annual budget and ministry plans, and by holding the senior pastor accountable to oversee the staff in executing them.

Thus, the Elders are ultimately responsible for the church and hold the Senior Pastor accountable to oversee staff in the implementation of policy. The Constitution does not mandate the size of the Board of Elders. Based on the Constitution, an organizational chart for Irving can be constructed:

(To view the org chart, please see original PDF below article)

The Constitution and this organization chart allow for, but does not mandate, an Executive Pastor.

Deacons are also elected by a two-thirds majority of the congregation for a three year term, which may be renewed. Article IV, Section 3 defines the role of the Deacons:

Deacons shall be responsible to serve the needs of the congregation under the authority of the elders. Such areas of service include but are not limited to the care and upkeep of church grounds and facilities and the administration of benevolences. By fulfilling these responsibilities, deacons free elders and pastors to give their full attention to spiritual oversight.

When this Constitution was approved in 1993, one can see signs of delegated responsibility, allowing the Elders and Pastors to focus on spiritual oversight. There is no limit given in the Constitution as to the quantity of deacons, nor does the Constitution band the deacons together into a Board of Deacons.

The Constitution of Irving Bible Church also addresses the responsibilities of the Senior Pastor in Article IV, Section 4:

The senior pastor is responsible to preach and teach the Word of God, to contribute leadership to the elders while remaining accountable to them, and to manage and direct the staff team in accomplishing the ministry goals of the church within the parameters and budgets approved by the Board of Elders.

Again, the Constitution does not mandate the position of Executive Pastor, but does specifically allow for delegation of responsibility by the Senior Pastor. Section 5 of Article IV addresses “Other Pastoral Staff”:

The recommendation to call or dismiss other staff pastors shall come from the senior pastor. The call or dismissal of pastoral staff shall come from the Board of Elders.

Pastoral staff responsibilities shall be assigned by the senior pastor or his designee in accordance with the skills and job description of that staff minister. All staff shall carry out their assigned ministries according to the annual ministry plans and budgets approved by the Board of Elders.

The Constitution specifically addresses staff that are not pastors in Article IV, Section 6: “The senior pastor or his designee shall be responsible for the selection, supervision, and dismissal of non-pastoral church staff.”

The ability for the Senior Pastor to delegate responsibility allowed the Senior Pastor to take a sabbatical. In an article in the Dallas Morning News on clergy rest, the Executive Pastor of Irving is cited:

Irving Bible Church, where senior pastor Andy McQuitty has begun a summer sabbatical, allows its pastoral staff to take a three-month sabbatical after seven years. The Rev. Steve Roese, the church’s executive pastor, said Mr. McQuitty hasn’t taken a lengthy amount of time away in his fourteen years at the church.  ‘A sabbatical forces you to make sure your ministry goes on while you’re gone,’ Mr. Roese said.

‘It’s a tribute to Andy that he’s delegated such that he can step away. It will give our congregation a different perspective.’

Thus, by allowing for delegated authority, the Constitution of Irving Bible Church gives a foundation to the position of Executive Pastor.

The history of the church gives a background to the inception of the position of Executive Pastor. Irving Bible Church began on Easter Sunday, 1962. In 1966 the church purchased four acres of land on Finley Road in Irving and built a thirty by forty foot meeting room for worship services. In 1970, “a new sanctuary was built under the leadership of Pastor Chuck Swindoll.” The surge of growth under Dr. Swindoll stalled after he left the church: “After several difficult trials in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the church found direction and experienced God’s blessing. The resulting growth would take the church from a low of 250 in the mid 80’s to its current army of thousands.” Andy McQuitty became the Senior Pastor in 1987 and the church began to grow again.

With the growth in the late eighties, the church built an education center for 1.2 million dollars; “Ironically, the church grew so much during the construction phase that the building was at capacity on the day it opened.” The church raised three hundred thousand dollars to “reduce debt and position the church for later expansion.” Irving launched Accepting the Challenge in 1994 as “it was realized that relocating the church was the only way to accommodate the growing number of folks touched by God through IBC. … The congregation was presented with a goal of $1.5 million. They responded with $1.9 million to start the relocation effort—even though they had no idea to where the church would move.”

Irving culminated the relocation capital fund drive in December, 1995. Pastor McQuitty wrote: “Foundational to the success for this campaign was the creation of discontent with the status-quo and the instillation of confidence by demonstrating thorough planning.” Irving announced Vision 2000 on May 19, 1996 in an all-church celebration. McQuitty noted: “The goals of this event were to create a greater sense of unity, to delineate godly motives for the relocation of the church, and to foster a broader perspective of the ministry of IBC by forecasting coming innovations.”

McQuitty preached a sermon series out of the book of Joshua in July and August, 1996, to address the challenges of upcoming relocation. Irving published a Book of Memories in August, 1996, and created a Memorial of Bricks to allow people to show appreciation for the new location. Irving held a Celebration of Remembrance service on September 1, 1996 to bring closure to the former church building. Irving celebrated Seven Pillars as a dedication of the new building and relocation in October, 1996. “We invited Dr. Stanley Toussaint, former pastor at IBC from 1965-1967 and then again from 1973-1977, to speak in the new sanctuary at IBC at a special service kicking off a four-day dedication weekend.”

A year after the congregation moved to the new building, Steve Roese began as Executive Pastor. The Senior Pastor and four of the pastoral staff of Irving Bible Church were at the church when he was hired. In a group discussion with twenty of the staff, the five commented on the state of the ministry before the Executive Pastor joined the staff. One staff member said that “we were islands of people doing ministry. We needed accountability.” Another person said that “we were deer in the headlights.  We had a rapidly growing ministry and needed expertise.” A third person said that “we needed an overseer of ministry. Andy’s time was becoming limited.”

The Senior Pastor commented on the former close relationships on the staff, that “we used to have staff meetings every day, informally gathering for lunch. Then, we grew and added ministry.” The Senior Pastor was beginning to feel stretched and he said that “the staff needed encouragement, oversight and accountability. I couldn’t keep it going. We needed a creative person to keep us going.” As to the timing, the Senior Pastor and staff discovered the tension before the Board. “We discovered this a year or so before the move. The Board needed a couple of years to see the need.” As to the thought of adding an Executive Pastor, “we knew that things were going to be different when an Executive Pastor came, almost a grieving for the old days of a small staff. But, we were living in an illusion that they were still that way.” Thus, Irving saw the need to have a person focus on oversight and accountability of staff and church ministry.

In late 1997, Steve Roese assumed the position of Executive Pastor with a job description outlining three main areas. The first area is to execute the vision of the Senior Pastor with the staff. This includes overseeing the staff, leading the management team meetings, and streamlining authority paths “while minimizing bureaucracy.” The second area is to coordinate church ministries for maximum efficiency, including conducting search processes, dismissing and repositioning staff. This area incorporated responsibility to oversee the development of, and adherence to, the budget. The description also calls for the coordination of new initiatives with the staff. The third and final area of the job description includes the casting of vision for adult ministries and initiating new ministries. The implementing of this job description, and the role of the Executive Pastor, will be examined in the Interview section below.

In November, 2000, the church launched Proceeding On, a campaign to build a new worship center. The facilities were opened in August, 2002. “Since the campaign was launched, the number of people calling IBC home has doubled. We consistently see more than 4,000 souls on campus each week. Over 5,000 attended our Easter Service this year.” By 2003, Irving received $5.5 million of the $6.5 million pledged to the project and the church was pleased to announce that “… we have kept our debt service to within twenty percent of revenues.”

The new worship center sought to live out the church’s vision statement. The new building included a coffee shop and a “Town Hall” to create a public meeting place:

Folks have been sticking around for coffee after church services for generations, but something else is going on at Irving Bible Church, the megachurch on whose 17-acre campus a coffee shop recently opened. The Ugly Mug Coffee Co. is not a church-run business, nor does it keep hours related to worship services. It’s there to help anchor Irving Bible Church’s ‘Town Square,’ which includes a large playground and other amenities, and is part of IBC’s attempt to bridge the separation of church and life. In doing so, megachurches like Irving Bible Church are changing the way suburbanites live, and they are showing why management guru Peter Drucker called them ‘the most important social phenomenon in American society in the last thirty years.’

A concept for further study is Drucker’s quote.  As has been noted previously, there is a rise of megachurches in America, and there are apparent significant sociological shifts occurring. Irving appears to be at the nexus of such change and is embracing it in the design of their buildings.

In the same spirit as Gilbreath calling Dallas “The New Capital of Evangelicalism,” the article about Irving continues. It describes the genesis in Dallas of a significant “integration” of church and civic life.

Church used to be a place you went on Sunday morning, and maybe returned to for Bible study or midweek services. But visionary pastors like the late W.A. Criswell of the First Baptist Church in Dallas noticed early on a hunger for rootedness and community. Dr. Criswell and others conceived of the church as more than just a place to pray and study Scripture. It could also be the locus of social life, and even commerce. The genius of this approach can now be seen all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which is home to more thriving megachurch campuses than anywhere else in America.

The purpose of Irving’s “Town Hall” is captured by the article and is an implementation of the church’s vision statement.

This is an old idea. In the Middle Ages, cathedrals were the sun around which a city’s social and commercial life orbited. Megachurches like Irving Bible Church are reviving the idea by opening their campuses to everyone in the community and providing them a safe, clean, wholesome place to socialize, play with their kids, participate in athletics and the like.

What’s different—and perhaps troubling—is how these new ‘town squares’ are essentially private spaces masquerading as public ones. You could see them as representing a withdrawal from public life, and even a loss of faith in the idea of a common existence. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But in a time of cultural fragmentation, when the loss of respect for authority and a commitment to shared values turns the public square into a more dangerous place, the controlled environment provided by megachurch ‘town squares’ and commercial ventures such as CityWalk in Los Angeles is rightly welcomed by families. After all, these churches wouldn’t be so mega if they weren’t doing something right.

The design of the building is one aspect of the implementation of the vision statement.

Another aspect of implementing the vision of the church is the multidimensional purpose of the coffee shop. The shop begins as a cozy “hang out:”

‘It’s a comfortable place where people can come and get delicious coffee and hang out,’ said customer Alissa Kindall of North Richland Hills. ‘Even if there are a lot of people here, you can still find a quiet spot and relax.’

Interestingly, the owners of the coffee shop have evangelical roots that align with the church’s heritage and values:

Providing a respite for coffee-drinking college students led owners Mark Ottinger and Tim Burleson to open their first Ugly Mug Coffee Co. in Memphis, Tennessee, five years ago. The owners wanted to expand, and Texas seemed a logical choice for their second location. The former members of Denton Bible Church met as students at Dallas Theological Seminary.

‘We’re excited about being in Irving and the Las Colinas area,’ Mr. Ottinger said. ‘It seems a natural fit to partner with a church that’s doing things around the world.’

This summer, Irving Bible Church’s missionary and outreach programs will travel to Africa, the Amazon, China, Honduras, India and Russia. The Ugly Mug Coffee Co. is committed to helping coffee growers in Third World countries make a living, Mr. Ottinger said.  The company’s slogan is ‘Better Beans for a Better World.’

An apparent value of the church is the integration of the vision statement in every area of church life, from building design to business partners.

Irving’s seeks to implement their vision statement through a second website. The church has a main website at www.irvingbible.org. This website is similar to other churches mentioned in this dissertation. It outlines the church’s various ministries and is “content driven.” A second website, www.churchdreams.org seeks to live out the vision statement: “engaging spiritually uninvolved people in the joyous adventure of pursuing Christ’s best.” In a special page on visiting the church, advice is given:

Relax. This is the single most important word of advice that we can give to someone new to IBC. We want you to come as you are and be yourself. This means that if you can connect with God more easily in your blue jeans, then slap on your Levis. It also means that if a suit and tie helps you focus and prepare for worship, then wear that. Our focus is not on who wears what but whether people are connecting—with God and with their neighbor.

The website is worth special attention as it has drawn the spotlight of the media:

Website designers for places of worship will profit from checking out this site offered by Irving Bible Church. Designed specifically for visitors, it speaks directly to their concerns. (The church has a separate website, IrvingBible.org, aimed at members.)

Rather than barrage visitors with a schedule of church activities, the site takes a minimalist approach. Pages fade in and out with messages: ‘We dream of a church where people are free to attempt great things for God … where all kinds of people serve God in all kinds of ways … where creativity and innovation are honored, not feared.’

Visitors can then follow links into a Q&A on the nature of God and the Christian faith. Next, there’s a quick ‘orientation’ on visiting Irving Bible Church—what to wear, what to expect, and information on worship times and child care.

Does Irving Bible Church live up to its dreams? You won’t find the answer on the website; you’d have to visit. Exactly.

Irving Bible Church has apparently succeeded in “engaging spiritually uninvolved people,” as the author of this item in the Dallas Morning News reflects that the website is “designed specifically for visitors.”

There are other areas of church ministry that could be mentioned, such as outreach events and arts ministry. However, the purpose of this investigation is to give an overview of the church. It has been seen that Irving has a strong vision statement and is endeavoring to live it out. The relocation of the church in 1996 brought great growth and ushered in the tenure of the Executive Pastor.

In a group discussion, twenty of the staff commented on the ministry of the Executive Pastor. In describing Steve Roese, they see a caring, sometimes tough, implementer of vision: One staff member said, “He’s a visionary with a heart for outreach, but he did not let us stay comfortable with our own little group. He hurts for the lost.” The staff sees that Roese sets a positive tone among the staff: “There is a ‘fun’ atmosphere here. We move forward to bigger and better things.” While it can be “fun,” there is a serious side to the ministry as one staff member commented that “we needed a vision implementer and he doesn’t allow for second best.” The staff perceived that some Executive Pastors hold the Senior Pastor and staff back from rapidly advancing ministry, but “Steve and Andy are on the same page.  Steve doesn’t hold Andy back.”

The staff also perceived that some Executive Pastors are “numbers guys” who focus on finances, not on implementing vision. One staff member summarized this line of thought: “The Executive Pastor at my old church was a numbers guy, but Steve says and means ‘whatever it takes.’ God’s going to do great stuff. The old church guy said ‘is it broken?’” In terms of implementing vision and challenging the staff, one member summarized that “He gives us the freedom to fail, to try to do something better.”

The staff commented on the difficult aspects of being an Executive Pastor. One member said that “Steve is a lightning rod for criticism. He explains explosive issues.” It can be difficult to unite the roles of Executive and Pastor, as another staff member commented: “On the boss-pastor mix, Steve is an incredible friend, yet he also gives me tough notes about ministry. He keeps it in balance.” The pastoral care is evident with the staff, as a third staff member said: “He cares about your family. On my first impression at a job interview, I didn’t know if I liked him.  At the second interview, I decided I could go into battle with him. He asked tough questions. He cared enough to ask tough questions. My old church didn’t do that.” Transitions can be difficult and there have been some at Irving. One staff member commented on this, that “he has a heart for staff to serve in their area of giftedness and passion of ministry.” Roese is readily available for the staff as “his door is always open. He is loyal to the staff. He stands in the gap for us.” Thus, the staff of Irving Bible Church see the functional need for the Executive Pastor.

The Executive Pastor Interview

Steve Roese has been the Executive Pastor at Irving Bible Church since late 1997. He enjoys the fact that the staff wrote his job description. This signifies for him that there was staff acceptance of him from the beginning of his tenure. As Roese is the first Executive Pastor at Irving, and he points out that “usually the first guy doesn’t last.” Steve sees the staff-written job description as a solid starting point and at the same time he smilingly admits that he doesn’t see his job description often. This fits with the line in the description that reads, “streamline and define communication and authority paths on the IBC staff that maximize personal creativity while minimizing bureaucracy.” As for being the first Executive Pastor at Irving, he says: “You are doing what the Senior Pastor has done for so long, but the Senior Pastor gets respect from preaching each week. You must get in the pulpit for trust.”

Steve sees the role of the Executive Pastor as freeing the Senior Pastor to focus on preaching and church vision. Because of this, Steve recently advocated to a church of four hundred worshippers that they not hire an Associate Pastor or Church Administrator. He recommended the Executive Pastor position because “the Executive would look after getting key people on and off the bus, whether volunteers or paid.”  Steve recommends that churches, both large and small, take the role of the Senior Pastor and divide it: “Don’t hire an Administrative Pastor as the Senior Pastor isn’t doing that work now! First, take the load off the Senior Pastor,” he says. “Most churches are looking for an Executive to do staff reviews and strategic planning. I am different than that. Others may be the norm. I love to think out of the box, as my business card says ‘Catalyst.’”

Steve defines the Executive Pastor through an analysis of the Senior Pastor. “Define who the Senior Pastor is and staff for his weaknesses, not his opposites.” In the Senior and Executive Pastors relationship, Steve sees that “trust is the number one issue.” He sees that the Senior and Executive Pastors must speak the same language, but not be carbon copies. He considers that they should genuinely enjoy being together. “Andy has strengths that I don’t have, so don’t make me the Senior Pastor. Andy has the gift of pastor, shepherding people, a great crisis caregiver, just a magician at it.”  Steve meets with the Elder Board only as necessary, not regularly a part of their Monday night meetings. Steve comes to the Board when there is a need, bringing an item or being given an assignment. Relationships between staff and Elders come through an annual retreat; all pastoral lead staff attend, as do all Elders and spouses.

With the Senior Pastor present, Steve runs the staff meetings. “Andy is hands-off with regards to the staff, and only steps in when he needs to; he encourages the staff. Many Senior Pastors won’t let go and want to drive the staff meetings.” Steve reports that Andy once said to him, “Steve, I’m not in charge at this meeting, you are, so you run it.” Steve says most Senior Pastors want to be the spokesman at staff meetings, yet speak for seventy-five percent of the meeting. At Irving, there are meetings three times per month for all pastors and directors. Twice a month, all forty support and pastoral staff meet. Steve desires that there be little formal agenda, but that people “sit in bean bag chairs, discuss church ministry and pray together.” In 2002, the staff was restructured; before that twenty people reported to Steve. Steve meets once a month for a lunch with all the lead staff, lasting about two and a half hours.  The lead staff is comprised of six male or female team leaders, plus Steve Roese and Andy McQuitty.  The team leaders are 1) operations and finance, 2) worship arts and next generation ministries, 3) community development, 4) communications, 5) children & youth and 6) leadership development.

When it comes to hiring a new pastoral staff members or lead staff, Steve is the “point person.” He surfaces several candidates and asks a team of staff and volunteers to interview each candidate. Steve serves on the team, but it is the team that makes a consensus recommendation to the Senior Pastor and Elders. In the hiring process, Steve sees himself at the facilitator of the discussion rather than the decision maker. He views the number one priority of an Executive Pastor is to hire the right people. This is critical for Steve as he desires a staff with vision and creativity. He desires a “wide open staff structure, anyone can insert anything; it’s interactive; no staff policy manual; no timecards; no vacation schedules; this is for everyone, not just salaried people; and this would be a problem if we had a bad hiring system.” Instead of annual reviews with the staff, they have discussions. As far as an annual review for Steve, he might say that he has an ongoing discussion with the Senior Pastor. This is an outwork of a cultural philosophy that values the quality of life, delegation, and the priesthood of believers.

In area of budget development, Steve requires the lead staff to develop budgets in their ministry areas. He then discusses the budget with the lead staff member, makes suggestions, and recommends it to the Elder Board. In his own words, “I don’t say ‘no’ very often as we have competent people who work carefully with money.” This does not mean that the budget process is always easy. In the last year, the church cut four hundred thousand dollars from ministry expenses, with some new initiatives being put off. The current budget is seven million dollars, with 1.2 million in debt service and .5 million in missions. Steve determines raises only on those who report to him. Final approval for all raises is made by Elders through the budget, making raises an annual event as a part of the annual budget cycle. He views staff compensation as equitable, “well enough for us all as staff to live but not by any means excessive.”

Steve preaches four or five times a year. He sees that the amount of preaching he does is an issue of time and giftedness: “I wouldn’t want to produce a sermon each week, it’s not my passion.” Steve loves to preach on an occasional basis, but doesn’t want the burden to prepare. “Andy has the gift of wisdom in choice moments; I like to handle so much so that Andy can listen to people more.”

Steve’s schedule reserves Mondays for meeting with staff and follow ups from Sunday. On Tuesdays, he has meetings with staff, lunches with staff and people in the church. He leads a Bible study lunch on Thursday and does some counseling as well. Fridays are set aside for envisioning and growing. He views his work week as Monday through Friday, working about fifty hours per week.

Steve keeps life in balance by building balance into church culture; he prefers “lots of culture and very little structure.” As to culture, “most people would say IBC is post-modern, but I’m not sure we would say it or like it. Post-modern is okay, but is has a lot of baggage. Some see Leonard Sweet and his book Post-Modern Pilgrims as lacking functionality. You can have a church that is so cool but nobody comes.” Steve likes to help envision where Irving could and should be in ministry. He does this by reading widely. Generally he stays in touch with many folks through his natural networking skills.

In the recent building of the new worship center, Steve led the charge. When asked, “Why you?” Steve replied, “Because a building should express vision and I am the implementer of the Senior Pastor’s vision. We didn’t have a Building Committee but a team. We spent our first times together just dreaming. We refused to move ahead until we found the right architect, and it turned out to be a non-church one! So many church architects don’t listen to you.”

Although Steve Roese’s business card cites him as “Catalyst,” he is much more than that. Steve spearheads the staff hiring process and builds consensus on the leadership team. In terms of the thesis of this dissertation, Steve implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and desires of the Elders. The Case Study Interview Questions have shown the functional need for the Executive Pastor at Irving Bible Church.

XP-I Results of the Three Multidimensional Roles

The second part of the case study involves the Executive Pastor Indicator to continue to examine the role and function of the Executive Pastor. The results of the XP-I for Steve Roese are consistent with those of the Case Study Interview Questions. At Irving Bible Church there was a high rate of response to the XP-I, including the Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, nine pastoral staff and six Elders.

Concerning the Three Multidimensional Roles, Steve Roese presents strong Executive and Shepherd roles:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The Executive Role is slightly below what eight other Executive Pastors have reported, but otherwise with one percent in the other two categories:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The Assistant Role is included in Roese’s job description: “Give vital feedback to senior pastor on rate and speed of implementation of the vision, required resources, etc.”

Regarding the Executive Function, Andy McQuitty, the Senior Pastor, presents identical findings to Steve:

(To view images please see original PDF below article)

The Executive Role is included in Roese’s job description: “Execute the vision of the senior pastor with the staff. Commit to the vision and become creatively involved in its development. Oversee and support staff in understanding and fulfilling vision in their area of ministry. Set specific, measurable goals with the staff and manage the feedback loop to insure that goals are being achieved.”

By five percentage points, the Senior Pastor sees a stronger Assistant Role than the Executive Pastor at Irving. This may be due to perspective. The Senior Pastor may see in Steve one who frees him from certain work, so that he can focus on preaching. Steve, on the other hand, may see the work of assisting the Pastor as a part of his Shepherding role.  Nine pastoral staff of Irving present data about Steve Roese:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The pastoral staff members first see a strong Executive Role in Steve followed by a strong Shepherd Role. Regarding the Shepherd Role, their data is different than a summary of thirty-two staff members reporting on their Executive Pastors:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The pastoral staff members agree with more of Roese’s report about the Shepherd Role than they do with other staff members.

The six Elders present the same report about the Executive Role as do the staff. They see a strong Executive Role:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

As with Stonebriar, the pastoral staff reported a stronger Executive Role than the Executive Pastor reported. At Irving, the Elders also report a strong Executive Role.

The data about the Executive Pastor of Irving can be summarized in a table that includes the Three Multidimensional Roles:

Respondent           Executive       Shepherd       Assistant

Steve Roese                      38%                   37%                    25%

Andy McQuitty                38%                   33%                    29%

Pastoral Staff                   41%                    36%                    23%

Elders                                41%                    33%                    26%

The conclusion from the data is that Steve Roese and Andy McQuitty view Steve slightly lower in the Executive Role. This is similar to David Chavanne and pastoral staff of Stonebriar:

Respondent         Executive        Shepherd         Assistant

David Chavanne             37%                    34%                      29%

Stonebriar Pastors         44%                    30%                      26%

The data is also similar to the combined results of eight Executive Pastors and twenty-three pastoral staff members:

Respondent        Executive         Shepherd         Assistant

Executive Pastors         40%                    36%                       24%

Pastoral Staff                 42%                    33%                       25%

Executive Pastors tend to view their Executive Role slightly lower than do subordinate staff. Steve Roese indicated his thoughts on the subject when he said: “Most churches are looking for an Executive to do staff reviews and strategic planning. I am different than that. Others may be the norm. I love to think out of the box, as my business card says ‘catalyst.’” The pastoral staff and Elders view Steve, though, in a strong Executive Role.

XP-I Results of the Five Focused Functions

The Five Focused Functions show the day-to-day functions of the Executive Pastor. In these functions there is a high degree of similarity between Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, pastoral staff and Elders.  Steve Roese presents strong Catalyst and Mentor Functions:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

Steve Roese does not see himself as a typical administrator, such as developing policy and procedures. However, he administrates the church by supervising the budget, delegating facilities and grounds to others, determining compensation, ensuring budget development and supervising operations. This is seen in his job description: “review goals, resources (facilities) and budgets, communicate details and coordinate events and facilities’ scheduling,” “oversee budget development, budget adherence and cash flow with financial administrator,” and “institutionalize policies and procedures.”

The Senior Pastor of Irving also sees strong Catalyst and Mentor Functions in the Executive Pastor:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The Catalyst Function is resident in Steve Roese’s job description. This function is the dominant function in his job description:

Cast vision for adult ministries and initiate new ministries as God leads. Develop a streamlined, biblical purpose statement and philosophy of ministry for adult discipleship.

Cast vision for how this might look at IBC in the next five years. Repurpose adult classes and seminars so that they are purposeful and progressive in meeting the stated goals of adult discipleship at IBC.

Launch new adult ministries consistent with the IBC adult ministry vision. Spearhead the development of small group ministry at IBC.

Work with Rick Knight and/or other volunteer small group personnel to keep the ministry publicized, operating effectively and growing.

Nine pastoral staff members report similar findings:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The Mentor Function is visible in Steve’s job description: “Handle personnel conflicts and troubleshoot programming problems. Lead management team meetings by creating agendas and facilitating their completion. Streamline and define communication and authority paths on the IBC staff that maximize personal creativity while minimizing bureaucracy.”

The six Elders of Irving report similar findings. They report a slightly stronger Overseer Function than the others:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

Steve’s job description contains elements of the Overseer Function:

  • Supervise the adult ministry administrator who is responsible for implementing the ongoing programs in adult ministry.
  • Conduct formal search process in hiring staff and also the formal procedure in dismissing or repositioning of staff.
  • Coordinate IBC ministries for maximum efficiency.
  • Coordinate with the staff new ministry initiatives from the congregation or church leadership.

It may be that as Elders they interact with the Executive Pastor on Overseer Function issues.

Another way of understanding the results of the XP-I is to examine the questions that scored with clear answers. When the results of all seventeen respondents are compiled, there are ten questions which averaged a “never” or “rarely,” which correlate to a numerical score of “1” and “2.” This data can be seen in the following table:

Question                                                                                                                       Score

Preaches at least one-third of the time                                                                             1.12

Teaches a Sunday Adult Class                                                                                            1.44

Performs weddings so the Senior Pastor has time to focus on his ministry             1.80

Conducts funerals so the Senior Pastor does not have to                                             2.00

Pastors just a part of the congregation as determined by job description                2.25

Reviews programs for only a small part of the entire church                                      2.25

Reports on finances for only a few areas of church ministry                                       2.47

Gives input on hiring personnel for only a few areas of ministry                               2.53

Guards the schedule of the Senior Pastor                                                                        2.75

Attends every meeting of the governing board, perhaps as a member                      2.94

The data represents that this Executive Pastor does not spend a great deal of time teaching and preaching. He does not guard the schedule of the Senior Pastor, or perform weddings and funerals in the place of the Senior Pastor. Though he does not regularly attend meetings of the governing board, he is not limited in shepherding, finances or hiring of staff.

While the preceding represents the low end of the scales, there are twenty-one questions which represent the high end. These questions averaged a response of “usually,” which correlates to a numerical score of “6.” The data can be seen in the following table:

Question                                                                                                                   Score

Guides the master planning process of buildings and grounds                               6.00

Exhorts any staff member as deemed necessary                                                         6.06

Represents church-wide finances to the governing board                                        6.07

Determines compensation for all staff                                                                          6.13

Oversees all church ministries                                                                                        6.18

Discusses church-wide ministry with Senior Pastor and governing board           6.19

Handles operations as Chief Operating Officer or has a subordinate COO           6.19

Facilitates hiring architects and contractors for new buildings                               6.31

Motivates people to get involved in ministry                                                               6.35

Delegates buildings and grounds management to subordinate staff                      6.38

Empowers members to be involved in ministry                                                          6.41

Envisions future ministry for the entire church                                                          6.41

Works as the Chief of Staff                                                                                               6.41

Ensures that budget development for the entire church is in line with vision     6.50

Encourages many congregants to volunteer for ministry service                            6.53

Supervises all staff                                                                                                              6.53

Fills the position as the second-in-command to the Senior Pastor                         6.59

Challenges people frequently to improve ministry                                                     6.65

Runs staff meeting and retreats                                                                                      6.65

Occupies a powerful position                                                                                           6.71

Sees the Senior Pastor as the spiritual leader                                                               6.81

This data represents that the Executive Pastor oversees the master planning and building process. He oversees the budget process, ensuring that it is in line with church vision, and he represents church finances to the Board. He oversees operations and all church ministries, and discusses them with the Senior Pastor and Board. He is the Chief of Staff, supervising, exhorting and setting compensation. He motivates people to get involved in ministry. He envisions future ministry. He is in a powerful position as the second-in-command, running staff meetings and retreats. Yet, he sees the Senior Pastor as the spiritual leader of the congregation.

As the prototype was compared to David Chavanne at Stonebriar, so it can be compared to Steve Roese. Again, in the absence of known objective data about the Executive Pastor, the prototype was an educated guess at what might be found. As with David Chavanne, the prototype had a stronger Executive Role than the respondents presented:

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

Regarding the Five Focused Functions, Steve Roese gave results close to the prototyped.

(To view image, please see original PDF below article)

This data shows that the prototype was helpful in conceptualizing the role of the Executive Pastor. The data from the respondents is similar to the prototype, especially for the Five Focused Functions.

The Executive Pastor Indicator gives objective validation to Steve Roese’s claim on his business card that he is a catalyst. There are also strong and clear reports that Roese serves as a Mentor to the staff, encouraging them to be their best and serve in their area of giftedness. The strong Administrator Function fits Roese’s managing of the church, even though he diligently avoids bureaucratic rules and regulations. The Minister Function for most Executive Pastors is below the baseline and Roese’s fits this typical report. The Overseer Function ranges from slight to moderate, depending on the person giving the report. The data gives an accurate picture of Roese and his role at Irving Bible Church.

Parallels with Watermark Community Church

Irving Bible Church offers significant insights about the timing and incorporation of the Executive Pastor position. Irving added the position soon after it relocated to its current property. Irving had significant growth before the relocation and afterwards. Watermark Community Church of Dallas has similarities to Irving before Steve Roese was hired.

Like Irving, Watermark is a fast-growing church with a popular preacher that is making a difference in the community. Like Irving of 1996, Watermark is now moving to a new home. Watermark has been in several temporary locations and is now ready to build its own structure. In September, 2003, Watermark raised over eight million dollars in one month to pay cash for an 8.1 million dollar property. The 12.9 acres contains a nine-story building and is located on an access road of a major freeway. The church asserts that it must raise another 12-16 million dollars to build a worship center and church facility. They desire to have a worship center containing not less than 2,800 seats.

Just as Irving Bible Church did not have an Executive Pastor when they transitioned to their new property, so Watermark does not have an Executive Pastor. However, Watermark is ready to begin the discussion about the possibility of hiring one in the future. Currently, Todd Wagner, the Pastor of Watermark, is doing the work of both the Senior and Executive Pastors. Selections from the job description of Todd Wagner show elements of the Executive Pastor position:

  • Responsible for leading the staff and church body in carrying out purpose and values of the church
  • Nurture and communicate the vision for the church to all staff …
  • Oversee and encourage multiplication of ministry … by developing and empowering both the staff and lay leadership of the church.
  • Lead the staff through appropriate direction, supervision, evaluation, counsel, care and accountability.
  • Work with the staff to encourage and empower them toward effective balanced ministry.

The job description focuses the Pastor of Watermark on more than preaching and casting vision for the congregation. It contains a wide variety of time-intensive tasks.

As Watermark desires to discuss the possibility of an Executive Pastor in the future, nine people from the church completed the XP-I. This included the Pastor, four pastoral staff and four Elders. The data from Todd Wagner showed a strong Shepherd role desired in a future Executive Pastor:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

With most of the reports about Executive Pastors, the Executive Role is at the apex on the positive and negative value strength of response chart. Most Executive Pastors receive over forty percent in the Executive Role. It would appear that Wagner wants a strong Shepherd and is neutral on Executive Role.

Four of the pastoral staff presented data that was inconclusive on the Three Multidimensional Roles.  The strength of response charts show that the responses averaged closely at the null point:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

This data indicates that the Pastor and pastoral staff have difficulty in understanding how the Three Multidimensional Roles would work at Watermark. With Wagner as a strong leader and the founding pastor, the staff has difficulty in imagining a strong assistant leader in the Executive Pastor position. The Elders of Watermark, however, gave contrasting data:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

At thirty-five percent, the Executive Role is still lower than most respondents to the XP-I. However, the strength of response charts present an interesting similarity to the profile created by twenty-three Elders:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

Thus, regarding the Three Multidimensional Roles, the Elders of Watermark begin to approximate the responses of other Elders.

In comparison, all respondents from Watermark demonstrate a degree of clarity about the day-to-day functions of a future Executive Pastor. Todd Wagner reported a strong Catalyst Function:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

Previously, it has been seen that Senior Pastors report a strong Catalyst Function. Wagner reports this as the dominant function. The pastoral staff present the beginnings of a typical pastoral staff profile:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The data is not strong, but it does show the beginnings of a profile. The Elders present a clear and strong profile:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The Elders of Watermark would see a future Executive Pastor as a strong Catalyst and mentor.

Just as the data from Irving was observed from specific questions, so the same can be done with Watermark. There were no averages scoring a response of “never” and six questions scored a response of “rarely:”

Question                                                                                                                 Score

Directs capital campaigns to fund new buildings                                                    2.56

Pastors just a part of the congregation as determined by job description          2.75

Teaches a Sunday Adult Class                                                                                      2.75

Reports on finances for only a few areas of church ministry                                 2.88

Conceives design of new buildings                                                                              2.89

Preaches at least one-third of the time                                                                       2.89

At the concept stage, the respondents from Watermark do not want an Executive Pastor to design new buildings or direct capital campaigns. They do not want the person to teach or preach on a regular basis. However, they do want the Executive Pastor to oversee church finances and shepherd the entire congregation.

Whereas Irving Bible Church had twenty-one questions with a response of “usually,” Watermark had three:

Question                                                                                                                Score

Evaluates job descriptions for all staff                                                                        6.00

Exhorts any staff member as deemed necessary                                                       6.22

Discusses church-wide ministry with Senior Pastor and governing board          6.38

The combined responses from Watermark indicate an Executive Pastor who will exhort and evaluate the staff and discuss ministry with the church leadership.

This section containing reports about Watermark is significant, but not because the data points are necessarily strong. The data from Watermark is significant because the church does not have an Executive Pastor and is considering hiring one in the future. This is a glimpse into the formation stage of the position. This is a picture of how a church operates before an Executive Pastor arrives. Todd Wagner comments on the issues at Watermark:

All questions were answered in light of what I would imagine my XP doing … I think I would have to be honest in saying I am not sure I like the title ‘executive pastor’ and that the main reason I hesitate having one is because I don’t want to grow distant from my staff … or just become the figurehead/teaching/visioning pastor who nobody really has a relationship with … I want to keep relational strength with the staff so loyalty, value and commitment to one another is based on both personal investment as well as professional advancement/ministry success …

There is a concern expressed that the Executive Pastor would come between the Pastor’s relationships with the staff and congregation. As Steve Roese pointed out, trust is key in the relationship between the Senior and Executive Pastor. Wagner continues:

This was very hard for me because it all depended on the individual I was thinking about … if it was someone who I loved deeply, trusted explicitly and whose gifts gave them great delight in teaming with my gifts than there wouldn’t have been very many questions that I wouldn’t have answered with ‘always.’ Also … I can’t think of any of the questions I wouldn’t have answered as ‘never’ if they are thought of as the person doing the tasks on their own … meaning without the presence of collaboration or team … if all these are thought of as in concert with … then most of the answers would be ‘always.’ #12 is a good example of this for me … I don’t want anyone creating strategies on their own but I want everyone on staff constantly presenting new strategies/paradigms/ideas all the time … again this was very hard for me because I don’t know who I am talking about and I am not sure what I am comfortable with …

Wagner illustrates that placing trust in a hypothetical Executive Pastor is impossible. Thus, without a history of an Executive Pastor at Watermark, it is difficult for the pastoral staff to envision one. The transition from a hypothetical Executive Pastor to a real person is an item of study for a future researcher. Churches would do well to recognize the difficulty in such a transition. Again, Steve Roese commented that the first Executive Pastor often does not last at the church.

The reality of the expanding role of the Pastor is not lost on Todd Wagner. He understands that he has time and ability constraints:

While I would love someone to do these things it is scary for me to let go because I don’t want to lose touch with my team or become a pastor ‘you can’t get to’ … at the same time I know I can’t lead/teach/vision or father/husband like I need to if I continually try and do it all myself … currently all the things you call an XP are shared by myself and different members of our ‘be team’ or management team … very difficult job description to write … so much depends on the giftedness/passion of hire and my time/sense of how I am doing at the essentials of my job. I think the job description would have to continually flex or I would have to get comfortable letting someone else ‘run’ the office/staff etc. It’s scary stuff not because I am a control freak but because I desire to be a part of what is going on with the team.

Todd Wagner commented in an email on the role of the XP-I as a tool for Watermark:

I so appreciate your effort and I can tell you already that it is a great resource for getting conversation started … showing people’s perceptions about both need (for the church) and perception (for what the XP’s job should be). At Watermark there are many factors that will go into defining what this role (whatever it ends up being called) will look like … what is so helpful about your tool is that it gets people’s perceptions/expectations/desires on the table and it gets us using a common language/tool … this will prove very valuable as we begin wrestling with what next steps are for us.

Thus, the Executive Pastor Indicator is a tool that provides common language for discussing a present or future position of Executive Pastor.

This researcher reviewed the data submitted by Watermark in light of their considering a future Executive Pastor. The following recommendations were made to the Elders and pastoral staff of Watermark:

The role of the XP is less known at Watermark. At the broad concept level, your staff and Elders have a difficult time imagining the church with a strong XP. They see the person doing lots of assisting and shepherding—not as much executive work as in most churches.

The strength of responses are generally weak, which may be common in churches without an existing XP. Further study is needed to validate this.

The function of an XP is known at Watermark. When it comes to what an XP actually does, the Elders and staff point toward standard desires for the XP. They want him to administer, catalyst, mentor, minister and oversee.

You will need a person that you have an existing relationship with, one that you trust. Your XP will fail if you can’t fully trust him.

Consider promoting a pastor from within. Be careful about appointing a business person with no ministry experience.

Delegate work to an XP, so as to keep your nose above the ever-growing flood of ministry, especially as your buildings come online and multiply ministry.

Your staff may need the daily interaction with an XP to avoid their burnout and receive daily encouragement. Unless you are superman, you won’t be able to meet all of their needs, minister to the congregation, build buildings, expand ministry, preach, and spend time with your Elders. Staff deserve more interaction than most preaching pastors can give.

Maintain a strong leadership role with the staff, while adjusting this to exclude management functions. Let the XP run things while you weigh in at the important times of vision casting, ministry direction and crisis moments. Having an XP will allow you to choose the topics you want to engage.

The similar history of Irving and Watermark, both undertaking a major building program without an Executive Pastor and both being vibrant and growing churches, offers interesting parallels. The data from Watermark shows the development of the position of Executive Pastor before the position is officially created.

Nonconforming Data

To this point, the case studies have presented data that is easily interpreted. The great majority of data from the Executive Pastor Indicator is consistent with other individuals in the same organization. This consistency also applies to other individuals in the same category, such as Senior Pastors, Executive Pastors, Elders or pastoral staff members. Data in question can be explained by the Case Study Interview Questions, shedding light on particular gifts of the Executive Pastor or nuances of the church. The scores and charts fit together to form profiles that accurately explain the position of the Executive Pastor.

There is, however, a minority of reports that do not fit the expected norm. With regard to the positive and negative strength of response charts, a few individuals have data too close to the median line to allow for acceptable interpretation. A few others are too far above it. Although these reports are in the minority, they deserve mention. About five percent of the reports present nonconforming data, all from individuals not a part of the case study or cited churches. Upon brief discussion with these individuals, several factors have been determined.

First, some complete the Indicator about themselves, but the individual is not an Executive Pastor.  The instrument was designed to measure the function of Executive Pastors and is not honed for accuracy for other positions in the church. This is a misuse of the Indicator. Second, some complete the Indicator about themselves as they are transitioning to an Executive Pastor position. They may still have a job description that is a hybrid of an Executive Pastor and something else. This is complicated when the individual has the title but not a typical Executive Pastor job description. Third, some complete the Indicator about themselves and do not give clear enough responses for adequate interpretation. This individual may not respond well to indicators of any kind. This data is nonconforming compared to the vast majority of results of the Executive Pastor Indicator. The following reports are nonconforming and will be labeled anonymously.

Some data can be labeled as under-reporting. Individuals have taken the XP-I and presented data that is so close to the median line as to make the results unacceptable for use. An example of this was the results of the Three Multidimensional Roles given by the pastoral staff of Watermark Community Church. Instead of the Watermark data being unacceptable, due to the fact that they were considering a future Executive Pastor, the data was relevant. The low scores illustrated that the staff did not have a clear understanding of the Three Multidimensional Roles. Yet, the Watermark responses did present interpretable results with the Five Focused Functions. The Watermark data had meaning on context.

This category does not apply where there is a clear reason, such as the one posited by the staff of Watermark. The under-reporting term applies to an Executive Pastor who returns data that is too close to the median point to be open for interpretation. One Executive Pastor, for unknown reasons, gave under-reporting data:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

The characteristic of under-reporting is a near flat-line positive and negative strength of response chart. One needs to remember that if the chart is nearly flat-line on a scale of plus and minus ten, then it will be extremely limited on the original seven point Likert scale. In the above example, the scores for each scale averaged to near the mid-point of “4.”  The actual numbers for this individual can be put into a chart and contrasted to the scores of Bob Feitl from Richland Bible Church:

     Role                   Pastoral Staff             Under-Report

Executive                             5.7                                      4.4

Shepherd                             4.6                                      4.0

Assistant                              2.4                                      3.4

The difference between a score of 5.5 and 4.4, to use the Executive Role as an example, is the same as the difference between 71 and 55 on a hundred-point scale.

Yet, though weaker than most responses, the data from the same person is open to some interpretation with regard to the Five Focused Functions:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

There are several scales of the Functions that can be interpreted to some extent. However, because of the difficulty of the Three Multidimensional Roles, interpretation should be declined for those three scales.

Certain respondents present data that can be labeled over-reporting. Individuals have taken the XP-I and presented data that is so far above the median line as to make the results unacceptable for use. Another Executive Pastor gave the following data, again for unknown reasons:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

This data is so positive on two of the scales as to not be open for easy interpretation. The data indicates that the individual is almost off the scale on the Shepherd and Executive Roles and quite strong in the Assistant Role. The data from scores of other respondents indicates that an individual is generally fairly strong in one area and rarely two.  The norm of respondents has never indicated that an individual is strong in three areas.

The data for the over-responder is also apparent with the results of the Five Focused Functions. The data often appears to go off the chart:

(To view images, please see original PDF below article)

Going to the maximum of certain scales indicates that the respondent is not carefully answering the questions. Certain questions were constructed to be logical opposites. Answering with a “strongly agree” to both “a” and “non-a” is the only way to exceed the scale.

These nonconforming results are normal and can be expected.  The XP-I is open for anyone to take, with no qualification or approval process.  The strength of response charts report the nonconforming results, advising caution on an erroneous interpretation.

Chapter Summary

This chapter has presented the results of the case studies. As the new capital of evangelicalism, the Dallas region was chosen for the case study churches. This localized the study to one region, but data from California and Michigan were applied to the case study results. The Case Study Interview Questions show Stonebriar Community Church as a young, vibrant church, born an “instant megachurch.” Because of the stature of Chuck Swindoll, the church received local and national media attention. The Executive Pastor, David Chavanne, was hired within three months of the church beginning worship services with a job description clearly defining his role at the church.

The Executive Pastor Indicator was taken by eight of Stonebriar’s pastoral staff, including the Executive Pastor. The respondents from Stonebriar confirmed the role of David Chavanne as discovered in the Interview Questions. The pastoral staff reported a seven percent stronger Executive Role than Chavanne reported. To better analyze the Three Multidimensional Roles at Stonebriar, the XP-I data from another church was included. Twenty-one individuals from Richland Bible Church took the Executive Pastor Indicator. This data was compared and contrasted to Stonebriar. The results showed that there are trends observable in the XP-I, such as pastoral staff viewing the Executive Pastor in a stronger executive role than the Executive Pastor self-reports. This is understandable as subordinate staff complete the Indicator about their superior who oversees annual reviews, sets policy and determines compensation. At Stonebriar, the Indicator also showed the strengths of Chavanne as an Overseer and Mentor. This data was confirmed from the Interview Questions. Thus, the Executive Pastor Indicator proved a useful and valid tool for understanding David Chavanne’s role at Stonebriar Community Church. The Indicator and Interview Questions together demonstrated the functional need of the Executive Pastor at Stonebriar to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and policy of the governing board.

Stonebriar faced huge hurdles as the church rapidly grew in a vacuum of pastoral staff, buildings, church culture and ministries. The answer that Chuck Swindoll and Stonebriar found was in the position of the Executive Pastor. David Chavanne was hired to lead the staff, function as an Elder on the Board and manage the church in the absence of the Senior Pastor. The Executive Pastor Indicator was found to be a valid instrument at Stonebriar and complemented the Interview Questions.

The second case study was Irving Bible Church. The same process of using the Case Study Interview Questions and the Executive Pastor Indicator were used at Irving. The Interview Questions showed a clear vision statement for the church, which the church seeks diligently to fulfill. A period of great growth ushered in a major relocation project that culminated in 1996. The new campus for Irving Bible allowed for continued growth. A year after the church relocated, Steve Roese was hired as the Executive Pastor with a job description that clearly outlines his responsibilities.

The Executive Pastor Indicator was taken by seventeen respondents from Irving Bible Church, including the Senior and Executive Pastors, Elders and pastoral staff members. The data from these individuals confirm the role of Steve Roese. Roese calls himself a “Catalyst” and this is easily observable in the XP-I. The Executive Pastor of Irving avoids bureaucratic administration, yet received a strong Administrator Function on the XP-I from other respondents. The point from this is that Roese is a strong manager of the church, but not with overt rules and regulations. He prefers to manage by instituting a culture that is in line with the church’s vision statement.

As Irving had made a major relocation before hiring an Executive Pastor, a church with similar contemporary issues was examined. Watermark Community Church is in the process of moving to a permanent location and is considering hiring an Executive Pastor in the future. Nine people from Watermark used the XP-I, including the Pastor, four Elders and four pastoral staff. This data gives important insight into a church that is relocating and has never had an Executive Pastor. Future research on the growth and staff development of Watermark may continue to provide more parallels between it and Irving.

At Irving Bible Church, the Executive Pastor Indicator proved to be a valid and insightful instrument about the Executive Pastor. It provided an objective analysis and a means of having common language for describing the role. The Indicator and the Interview Questions showed that Irving has a functional need for an Executive Pastor. Steve Roese implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and the desires of the Elder Board.

The case studies show the need for further study. Drucker’s comment about the megachurch needs examination, “the most important social phenomenon in American society in the last thirty years.” The under-reporting of Bible and Community Churches in the Hartford study on megachurches needs examination. The transition process of hiring the first time Executive Pastor, as considered at Watermark Community Church, is a needed research project. The growth of the Executive Pastor position in churches with less than two thousand worshippers should also be examined. The beginning of the Executive Pastor position at a church, or the resumption of the position in the case of Northwest Bible Church, should be studied. Some may want to study the growth of an “instant megachurch,” such as Stonebriar, so as to determine where the new members came from. As well, the issue of the position of the Executive Pastor becoming formalized in the organizational documents of the church, such as at Lake Avenue Congregational Church, can be compared and contrasted with the emerging constitution at Stonebriar. A future research may desire to re-administer the Interview Questions and XP-I to some or all of the churches in this study, to determine changes in the Executive Pastor position.

This chapter presented the results of the case study churches, as well as other selected respondents to the Executive Pastor Indicator. Stonebriar Community Church and Irving Bible Church demonstrated that there is a functional need for the Executive Pastor. At both churches, the clearly defined role of the Executive Pastor is to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and policies of the governing board. This enables the Senior Pastor to focus on preaching and vision casting. It also enables the Elder Board to focus on the policy aspects of governing the church and working with the Senior Pastor for vision and direction. The hypothesis is validated:

The case studies of the role of Executive Pastor in Elder-led churches will demonstrate that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching.

The hypothesis has been demonstrated at both Irving Bible Church and Stonebriar Community Church.

Chapter 5—Conclusion and Further Study

Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power: we become most powerful when we give our own power away. For example, the late Major General John Stanford told us that ‘we don’t get our power from our stars and our bars. We get power from the people we lead.’

As Kouzes and Posner indicate, power in leadership is not a function of title. While this dissertation has repeatedly used the title Executive Pastor, the meaningful issues in this study are the roles and functions of Executive Pastors. At the same time, the title Executive Pastor is helpful in that it effectively unites the seemingly disparate elements of Pastor and Executive. Both as disparate elements, and as married in the title, the title focuses on leading people. Using leadership terms found in the New Testament, the Executive Pastor leads as a πoίμνη, shepherd, and as an ἐπίσκoπoς, overseer. Further, some Executive Pastors serve as πρεσβύτερoς, Elder.

In chapter one, the “first cause” of this study on the Executive Pastor was presented:

This dissertation presents an answer to the management crisis faced by the Senior Pastor. This study demonstrates the functional need of the Executive Pastor. The role of the Executive Pastor is to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board. The time and energy of the Senior Pastor can then focus on the pastoral disciplines, preaching and casting vision.

The “first cause” is that many Senior Pastors are losing focus on the pastoral disciplines. This led to a stating of the problem to be studied, the research question and the hypothesis, which stated:

The case studies of the role of Executive Pastor in Elder-led churches will demonstrate that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching.

This final chapter presents conclusions of the research and implications for further study. There are important conclusions about the role of the Executive Pastor. While the position is a relatively new one in the church, it fills a vital function. As this dissertation is an inaugural work on the functional need and role of the Executive Pastor, there are significant items for future study. Important issues remain to be studied and, as the position continues in the church, new issues will deserve attention in the future.

Chapter two presented the literature review, studying the causative factors relative to the Preaching Pastor and church growth. Derived from our history in the American church, preaching is important. Tension has arisen as other ministerial and managerial duties enlarged the pastor’s job description. Previous solutions to the burgeoning workload were the delegation of duties to the Associate Minister and Business Manager. However, the rapid growth of the megachurch accelerated the rate of change and pressures on many Senior Pastors. For the role of Executive Pastor, there are various models of church structure and biblical parallels. Trust between the Executive Pastor and Senior Pastor is imperative. The Executive Pastor serves a congregation as both pastor and executive, implementing the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policy of the governing board.

Chapter three examined the research methodology, consisting of the Case Study Interview Questions (CS-IQ) and the Executive Pastor Indicator (XP-I).  By means of unstructured questions, the CS-IQ reports the church’s history, ministry and organization. In contrast, the XP-I uses structured questions to present data on the role and function of the Executive Pastor. The Executive Pastor Indicator measures the Three Multidimensional Roles of the Executive, Shepherd and Assistant. By having two scales to each question, the XP-I also measures the Five Focused Functions of the Administrator, Catalyst, Mentor, Minister and Overseer. The Roles show a composite picture of the Executive Pastor as a leader in the congregation. The Functions illustrate the day-to-day workings of the individual. By means of statistical analysis, the XP-I was found to be reliable.

Chapter four presented the results of the case studies and the validity of the Executive Pastor Indicator. The Dallas region was chosen for the case study churches, but data from churches in California and Michigan were compared and contrasted to the case study results. At Stonebriar Community Church, the Case Study Interview Questions demonstrate an “instant megachurch,” with Pastor Chuck Swindoll bringing local and national media attention. An Executive Pastor was hired within three months of the church beginning worship services, when there were two thousand in worship each week. David Chavanne was hired to oversee the fledgling pastoral staff, construction of new buildings, implementation of a church culture and begin ministries. David Chavanne does not seek to take the place of Swindoll but to lead the staff, serve as an Elder and manage the church.

Through the Executive Pastor Indicator, eight of Stonebriar’s pastoral staff confirm David Chavanne’s role as discovered in the Interview Questions. To better analyze the Three Multidimensional Roles of the Executive Pastor at Stonebriar, the XP-I results were contrasted from twenty-one individuals from Richland Bible Church of Richland, Michigan. The results show observable trends in the XP-I, such as pastoral staffs reporting a stronger Executive Role than their Executive Pastor self-reports. The Interview Questions from Stonebriar illustrate the reason for this. Staff subordinate to the Executive Pastor are keenly aware of the Executive Role of overseeing annual reviews, setting policy and determining compensation. At Stonebriar, the Executive Pastor Indicator is a valid instrument and complements the Interview Questions.

The data from Stonebriar also briefly noted Northwest Bible Church, which has a substantial section in the Appendix on the crisis period in that church’s history. As many of Northwest’s members went to Stonebriar and Watermark, it is important to note that Northwest is now numerically stronger than before the crisis.

The second case study is Irving Bible Church. The Case Study Interview Questions present a church that has had great growth in the last fifteen years, to the extent that the church relocated. A year after the relocation to a larger campus, Steve Roese became the Executive Pastor. Irving received media attention with the construction of a “Town Hall” and a visitor-centered website. Both are evidences of the church seeking to carry out its vision statement of “engaging spiritually uninvolved people in the joyous adventure of pursuing Christ’s best.”

Seventeen respondents from Irving Bible Church took the Executive Pastor Indicator, including the Senior and Executive Pastors, Elders and pastoral staff members. Steve Roese calls himself a “Catalyst,” and this self-appellation is clearly observed in the results of the XP-I. Though the Executive Pastor of Irving avoids bureaucratic management, others report a strong Administrator Function. Steve Roese prefers to manage by instituting a culture that is in-line with the church’s vision statement.

As Irving had made a major relocation before hiring an Executive Pastor, a church with similar issues was examined. Watermark Community Church had its Pastor, four Elders and four pastoral staff take the XP-I. Their data gives important and timely insight into a church that is both in the process of relocating and considering the future position of an Executive Pastor. The results are vague for the Three Multidimensional Roles but have specificity for the Five Focused Functions. Thus, it is easier to see the day-to-day functions of a possible future Executive Pastor than to forecast a composite picture.

For Irving Bible Church, the Case Study Interview Questions and the Executive Pastor Indicator show a functional need for an Executive Pastor. As well, the XP-I is a valid and insightful instrument about Irving’s Executive Pastor. Steve Roese implements the vision of the Senior Pastor and the desires of the Elder Board.

Information from a total of seven churches was presented in chapters three, four and the appendix: Irving Bible Church of Irving, Texas; Lake Avenue Congregational Church of Pasadena, California; Northwest Bible Church of Dallas, Texas; Richland Bible Church of Richland, Michigan; Santa Cruz Bible Church of Santa Cruz, California; Stonebriar Community Church of Frisco, Texas; and Watermark Community Church of Dallas, Texas. A total of eighty-three individuals are included in the results of the XP-I from these churches. Thus, while Irving and Stonebriar serve as the in-depth case studies, they are far from the sole churches being researched. As an in-depth analysis in the case study approach, Stonebriar and Irving demonstrate the functional need for an Executive Pastor. Other churches corroborate the findings. The hypothesis of this dissertation is validated:

The case studies of the role of Executive Pastor in Elder-led churches will demonstrate that there is a functional need for an Executive Pastor to facilitate policy-and-vision implementation in Elder-led churches and that the position of Executive Pastor administers a church government that represents Christ and His teaching.

Through the Interview Questions and Indicator, both churches are found to have a clearly defined role for the Executive Pastor to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and policies of the governing board.

Future of the XP-I

At the beginning of this research process, there was no known instrument to codify and identify the role of the Executive Pastor. The initial work with the Case Study Interview Questions demonstrated the need for some sort of analytical instrument. This was the genesis of the Executive Pastor Indicator.  The XP-I was developed to be short enough that respondents would finish all the questions, yet have enough depth to adequately examine the position of the Executive Pastor.

Chapter three demonstrated that the Executive Pastor Indicator is a reliable instrument and chapter four showed it is valid. The initial usage by one hundred people, and the reliability statistics of this dissertation, surfaced one question that needs complete rewording and several others that need minor adjustment. These findings are more than acceptable for both a newly created instrument and one in an area of little previous investigation.

The Executive Pastor Indicator began with a prototype for both the Three Multidimensional Roles and the Five Focused Functions. The prototype was seen to be close to the results of the case study Executive Pastors. The results of this dissertation allow for the prototype to be discarded. In place of the prototype are the results of the Executive Pastor Indicator.

The respondents to the Executive Pastor Indicator were strongly against several concepts. These should be specifically omitted from a job description for an Executive Pastor. The individual should not focus a great deal of time and attention on preaching, teaching or disciple-making. The Executive Pastor should not be restricted to a few areas of oversight, whether it be finances, management or ministry. The person should not perform weddings and funerals in place of the Senior Pastor.

There are items which should be specifically included in a job description for an Executive Pastor. The respondents to the XP-I strongly favored the Senior Pastor as the spiritual leader in the congregation, yet the Executive Pastor taking managerial duties from the Senior Pastor. The Executive Pastor fills a powerful position as second-in-command to the Senior Pastor, implementing the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board. The individual ensures that the budget is in-line with the church vision. As the Chief of Staff, the Executive Pastor exhorts staff to be their best, oversees annual reviews and sets compensation. The individual encourages congregants to volunteer for ministry service. The individual approves procedures for running the church, oversees church operations, and delegates buildings and grounds to subordinate staff. The Executive Pastor represents ministry and finances to the Senior Pastor and governing board, attending every meeting of the governing board, perhaps as a member.

With the results of this dissertation, the Executive Pastor Indicator can continue in use. The reliability data calls for slight modifications, which can be accomplished in a second edition of the XP-I. The Indicator has proven to be an accurate tool to assess the Executive Pastor. It provides objective data to discuss and evaluate the role and function of an Executive Pastor.

Further Study and Implications

This research has surfaced many items that need future study. The About Theology section of the Case Study Interview Questions needs development if the interview questions will be used beyond churches of similar theology. The Executive Pastor Indicator needs to have a Test-Retest reliability analysis. An analysis of how to measure the specificity of the Assistant role needs examination. A future researcher could develop a separate indicator to independently measure the role and function of Executive Pastors. The data of this second indicator could be compared and contrasted to the XP-I. Another area for future study is the history and practice of the adoption of business titles in the church and the timely level of acceptance by leaders and congregants.

An area of significant and perhaps controversial study would examine Drucker’s comment that megachurches are, “the most important social phenomenon in American society in the last thirty years.” While not controversial, the Hartford study on megachurches had an under-reporting of Bible and Community Churches. This needs examination. The hiring process of a church’s first Executive Pastor, from concept to first day on the job, should be studied. The development of the Executive Pastor role and function at Watermark Community Church needs research, especially as preliminary data has already been recorded in this dissertation. Also for study is the growth of the Executive Pastor position in churches with less than two thousand worshippers. The resumption of the Executive Pastor position, in the case of Northwest Bible Church, should be studied. Growth patterns of “instant megachurches,” such as Stonebriar, can be studied to determine the previous church affiliation of new members. The formalization of the Executive Pastor position in the organizational documents of a church, such as at Lake Avenue Congregational Church, can be compared and contrasted with the emerging constitution at Stonebriar. After a number of years, reexamination of the case study churches may be warranted to determine changes in the churches with relevance to the Executive Pastors. Thus, there are many areas of significant study.

In the process of proving the hypothesis, many areas of church life have been addressed. In some ways, this study has raised more questions than it has answered, but this can be expected in an area that contains little known research. What has been proven is that there is a functional need for the Executive Pastor to implement the vision of the Senior Pastor and the policies of the governing board.

This study has implications for the future of the church in the United States. It has been seen that the need for the Executive Pastor stems from the management crisis of the Senior Pastor. Should the size of churches in America return to the levels before 1900, then there may not be a functional need for the Executive Pastor. The position could revert to that of Associate Minister or Business Manager.

One must consider the wisdom of employing a secular title in the church. Is the church too aggressive in adopting a business management model? This could be in line with Os Guinness’ cautionary words about the “entanglement with modernity.” However, one might also ask, “Will there be an entanglement with post-modernity?” Are there unforeseen dangers in calling a pastor an Executive?  In the future, could parallel terms be utilized in the church, such as Vice-President or Marketing Manager?  On the other hand, perhaps the church is successfully bridging the gap between the sacred and the secular. Churches have for many years had non-biblical terms, such as Trustee and Compensation Committee. It may be said that these titles pertain to the business side of the church.  However, at the spiritual center of most churches are non-biblical terms and models, such Board of Elders or Spiritual Life Task Force. These groups regularly use the practices and procedures of business models. Many churches even have as its head something drawn almost entirely from the corporate world, a Chairman of the Board. Knowingly or not, for many years the church has used business models at the heart of sacred duties. The new implication is that, with the Executive Pastor, a business term is used for a vocational minister. Whereas in the past, the governing board members were generally volunteers, now pastoral positions utilize business terms. The implication is that, regardless of their sources, the church is becoming less afraid of using functional business models.

Another implication is a potential power shift in the church. In ten and twenty years many Executive Pastors may still be serving in the same church, whereas the Senior Pastor that hired them may have retired. Will the Executive Pastor grow to have such a concentration of power that a Senior Pastor will be replaced with a Preaching Pastor? This question is posited within the best sense and use of the term power. Santa Cruz Bible Church has already paved the way for this by having the Executive Pastor and Teaching Pastor be equals that report to the governing board. An anonymous church in South Texas wanted to hire an individual as Senior Pastor and have the well-known Preaching Pastor report to him. Wanting to leave most leadership duties, this Preaching Pastor desired to exclusively preach, study and write. While some may cringe or cheer these changes, these could intrinsically change the way that Americans view their pastors and churches.

Theological seminaries have choices as well. Currently, there is little training for leading and managing the church. No courses are known at the Masters or Doctoral level on being an Executive Pastor. Generally, seminaries are concerned with training individuals to preach and teach. Where will Executive Pastors be trained? In many seminaries, there are few or none with the requisite expertise to train the next generation of Executive Pastors. Will that training be left to business schools and hands-on experience? There ought to be the integration of theological training and management principles to educate the next generation of church leaders, including Executive Pastors.

The implications of theological training are significant for the life and health of the existing seminaries. Earlier in this dissertation Fuller Seminary’s research was noted:

In June 2003, The Wall Street Journal announced that Fuller Seminary had launched a two hundred thousand dollar research project to canvass twelve hundred ministers about ‘what they think future students should learn, as well as what they themselves would like in further studies or in continuing education.’

The results of the study by Fuller Seminary may help chart the future. It could be that Executive Pastors will bypass lengthy formal seminary training. For Executive Pastors, seminaries may become passé. Perhaps the future Executive Pastor will obtain academic biblical training at one institution and then move to another school for executive training. If this could be true for Executive Pastors, could it also be true for other pastoral staff members? Youth pastors could obtain Bible training at a seminary and then move to a church-based training institute. Interestingly, there are two churches in the Dallas area that are exploring similar options.

In the future, while Executive Pastors and other pastoral staff positions are trained in specialty schools, perhaps only Preaching Pastors will be trained in a seminary’s Masters of Theology program. This may pare the size of faculty at flagship seminaries. To train Executive Pastors and pastoral staff members, thriving schools may be small independent or church-based institutes that offer niche training. With the rise of internet-based training and multiple micro-extension campuses, thriving schools may have easy access and low cost. Flagship schools without the nimbleness to change may not meet the educational needs of the next generation of Executive Pastors and pastoral staff members. Flagship schools often struggle under the burden of rigorous accreditation and may lose sight that future pastors need to be trained by existing pastors. To realistically equip the next generation of pastors, there needs to be a balance of training by academics and pastors.

Just as adding an Executive Pastor changed the management and ministry structure of churches, so seminaries will need to adequately understand the new evangelical landscape. Does this rate of change appear too rapid? One should consider if Swindoll’s planting an “instant megachurch” seemed impossible and improbable just twenty years ago. An upstart “Wal-Mart of seminaries” may better equip leaders for the changing church, leaving other schools to go the way of dial telephones, phonograph records and perhaps someday, book libraries.

The church in America has changed and one of the indicators is the rise of the Executive Pastor. There are fears associated with the position. The executive aspect sounds like corporate America, an institutionalization of the church. Yet, for years the church has utilized business models with Boards and Chairman of Boards. The management crisis of the Senior Pastor warrants change in the way that churches supervise staff and oversee ministry. The megachurch pastor, “riding the wild tiger,” accelerated the rate of change. Pastors of large and small churches are afraid of their burgeoning job descriptions; “I can’t do it all and more is being added every day.” An answer to the management crisis of the Senior Pastor is to hire an Executive Pastor. This enables the Senior Pastor to focus on the pastoral disciplines, as Richard John Neuhaus sounded in his clarion call:

Reflection, study and prayer have always had to compete against the imperious claims of other activities. … Church officialdom is more likely to take note of a pastor mighty in raising money than of a pastor mighty in prayer.

The rise of the Executive Pastor indicates the changing external form of the organism called church and may the Executive Pastor help the church stay true to the calling of Christ. At the same time, the existence of the Executive Pastor is a prelude to substantial changes in the American church.

View the footnotes, Appendices, and Bibliography or read the entire dissertation in PDF format:  Fletcher Dissertation

By | 2016-10-12T11:00:57+00:00 December 7th, 2012|Essentials|

About the Author:

For over 35 years, David has served churches from 1,000 to 8,000 members. As well as being a pastor, David is a spiritual entrepreneur. He founded XPastor as a global ministry tool for leaders of churches of all sizes. XPastor provides a website, an XP-Newsletter, the annual XP-Seminar, workshops, and online courses.