[PODCAST] How Executive Pastors Shape the Church’s Future

“Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. We’re welcoming back Phil Taylor, a seasoned leader with over 20 years of experience in various pastoral roles and a passion for helping pastors turn vision into reality, which he does through his ministry, Backstage Pastors.

Tune in as Phil shares insights on the importance of the Executive Pastor’s role in the church and how they can build their relationship with the staff and Lead Pastor.

  • The Executive Pastor role. // Over the last ten years, there’s been a big shift in churches accepting and understanding the need for the executive pastor (XP) role. Churches recognize that they are more effective when they have strong second-chair leaders that have both the skills and authority to make change happen. Many churches now have multiple executive pastors, often dividing responsibilities between ministry and operations. Sometimes an XP even takes on more of a co-pastor role with the lead teaching pastor.
  • When do you need an XP? // Deciding whether a church needs an executive pastor can be based on the style of the lead pastor. A big vision thinker will often need an executive pastor to work with him sooner. A lead pastor who is more comfortable thinking strategically about details may be able to get by longer without an XP. But when you get to the 1500 range in attendance, Phil recommends that your church explores hiring an executive pastor.
  • Be attentive to the soul. // Phil has found, in his coaching work, that executive pastors aren’t always as attentive to their own souls as they could be, being focused more on getting things done. Given the task-oriented nature of XPs, they must be intentional about attending to their emotional and spiritual well-being. The updated edition of Phil’s book, Defining the Executive Pastor Role, delves into this crucial topic, encouraging leaders to cultivate emotional intelligence and engage in spiritual disciplines, such as observing a sabbath.
  • Be aware of your impact on the staff. // Because executive pastors tend to be more driven and high capacity, it can create feelings of unrest on the church staff when people feel they need to be doing as much as the executive pastor. Don’t make others feel guilty for being gifted differently. Approach your people with a soul-focused attitude, and step back from the focus on the work, turning again to worship.
  • Ease into the role. // Two of the chapters in Phil’s book talk about next steps for the new or aspiring executive pastor and their first year in a new church. One thing new executive pastors often forget is that people can struggle with change. Don’t jump into making a lot of changes in your first year unless they are immediately necessary; rather, take time to earn trust.
  • Build the LP/XP relationship. // The relationship between the executive pastor and the lead pastor is the most important one in the church because it sets the tone for the church and the staff culture. It requires weekly time together, open communication, honesty, and a commitment to avoiding triangulation. It’s essential to honor each other publicly and work collaboratively to steer the church towards its vision.
  • Plain Joe Studios. // Another way that Phil helps pastors turn vision to reality is with his work at Plain Joe Studios. Plain Joe helps churches, Christian schools, and not-for-profits tell their stories more effectively. They have a personality profile that can help churches better understand who they are and how they are different from other churches in their city.”

Listen to the full podcast.


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