Today I received an email from a Lead Pastor asking a question about a different operating structure in a church: “I wanted to get your thoughts on a new structure that I have heard a little bit about. The way I have heard it is that there is a 1A (Senior Pastor) and a 1B (Senior Leader Operations). They are equal and both report directly and are accountable to the board, but neither have “authority” over one another. Is this right? Can you give me a short version of pros and cons and your thoughts? Who is doing this in the church world?”

My Reply

What you are describing is a “new wave” of church leadership. Whether it will be a small wave or the next big thing, only time will tell. A good friend of mine recently went to a church in Texas with this model. The preaching pastor is primarily that. His role is the Lead Community Pastor. Both report to the board. The pros of this is that it frees up the preaching pastor to lead through preaching, cast vision, and use his unique gifts in a way that best fits the church. The cons is that with the wrong people, a power play can happen.

Yet, this is the relationship of any SP and XP. It’s not about titles, but about function and trust. The key factor between the two key leaders of any church is trust. Are they speaking from the same playbook? Can they get along in the rough and tumble sandbox of the church? Do they know their roles and gifts?

Here at my current church, Paul is the SP—and the long history of the church makes this quite a unique role here. I’m the first XP in the modern sense of the word at The Chapel. Regardless of titles, Paul and I have divided up the work and enjoy serving together. Again, it is a trust-based relationship. We talk about all sorts of things, small and big.

The main question is: What will enable you to use your God-given gifts best? How can you leverage your ability for Christ, be able to lead, cast vision, preach and survive the workload?