3 Things That Help Me as an Executive Pastor

Reflecting on my life as an Exec Pastor and thinking about the things that have helped me, it can be difficult to articulate them as the role can be so full and varied but here’s 3 things to start with….

1. Permission

Contrary to some opinions, I am not a pushy person. I am naturally a quieter personality, an introvert, someone who doesn’t mind systems and process, as long as they are not strangling the life out of the people involved in making church happen.

I like to have permission to act, to speak, to give opinion, to ask the awkward questions. As in all things though, even with permission, I still get it wrong occasionally.

It took a while for me and my Lead Pastor to get there, and we are tweaking it all the time, but a good, clear understanding of the role required, what you are being asked to do, being given permission to do it, and then others being informed of that, really helped. It’s not about title but that moment when it was explained why I was here and what I would be doing was extremely important for me. How?

I was able to relax into the role. I was no longer speaking just for myself but on behalf of the Lead Pastor. Knowing I had the full support of my oversight was a big deal for me.

It made us stronger as a lead team. My desire has always been that you couldn’t get a piece of paper between us. Playing us off against one another won’t work.

People knew why I was talking to them and asking the questions I was. As mentioned in the previous post, when you know what you are actually supposed to be doing, it can help you to help others to flourish in what they are supposed to be doing, which ultimately sees the vision fulfilled.

2. A simple idea of the role

Exec Pastor, it’s a grand title that most people don’t understand or don’t want to understand. You are a Pastor in that everything is about people and helping them to grow in their journey with Jesus, yet it’s different too. It’s a strategic role, one that means being mindful of the big picture, knowing the vision and how everything that we do as a church fits in with this.

If people ask me about my role I have simple one line. I don’t know if it’s right but it works for me, ‘I have oversight of those who have oversight.’ It’s probably too simplistic but it’s a starting point.

A different answer but equally clear is that my role is about helping take what’s in my Lead Pastors head, the vision and the future of the Church, and then, alongside a whole bunch of other great people, help to make it a reality.

3. Regular time with the Lead Pastor

You cannot get to the place of being on the same page and understanding each other if you never catch up. I value the time I have with my Lead Pastor. It is essential. When it can’t happen, that’s when things can become confused, unclear and that then affects productivity.

Time to talk things through is when I get to know what’s on his heart, what is exciting him about church and the future or alternatively, what’s causing him concern. It’s an honest exchange of thoughts and opinion at times but thats alright, it certainly helps me to know where mine and the teams focus should be.

It also helps that we actually like one another. Plus, after 5 years or so years in the role and 22 years of church life together, I know his heart and I’m fairly certain that he knows mine. I’m not after his seat but I will do all thats needed to protect him, support him and gather others to do the same.

Ultimately I am just playing my part in helping to grow God’s kingdom. I may have a fancy title but I still need to be about the same things as everyone else. I do not get a free pass. I still need to be about loving God and loving people, and in that sense I know I have a lot to learn from everyone else.

If you are in a similar role to mine, what would you add? What has help you to find you feet in this privileged role?

6 Things About an Idea

I have recently spent time inviting some young leaders into my world and what I am often surrounded by…IDEAS. There is not a shortage of ideas when the Vision Team for Xcel Church get together. Leaders need to learn about the journey an idea may have to travel.

Here are some thoughts about ideas…

1. Ideas are not difficult to come up with

2. Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean it should be done

3. Ideas deserve to be challenged to help make them the best they can be

4. Ideas need to go through a process to answer some important questions…

  • Is it feasible? Do we have what it takes to do this?
  • Is it sustainable? Can it last?
  • If we didn’t do use resource on this idea what could we do instead?
  • Is it attached to the vision? Does it fit?

5. Don’t hold on to your idea so tightly that it will be too painful if it isn’t adopted

6. Above all – keep having them

What are your thoughts about the idea creation process?



7 Things Leaders Have to Think About

This reads simpler than it actually is.

1. What the preferred future looks like

2. The detail of that preferred future

3. The strategy required to move towards that preferred future

4. The leaders who will own the strategy that moves us towards that preferred future

5. The teams that the leaders will grow who can work together with the strategy that moves us toward the preferred future

6. The resources that those leaders require to give their teams, equipping them so they are more capable of achieving the strategy that can move us towards the preferred future

7. Are we on track in all that we are doing in respect of the preferred future we have seen?

Would you agree? Or would you change the things you think leaders have to think about?

Getting Things Done

It’s easy to become tunnel-visioned.

It’s important to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. My role is no different. There is a need on some occasions to just get my head down, get stuff sorted and get the information out. I’ve been accused in the past about spending too much time at my desk and not enough time with people. It’s a balance. On one side, I am a Pastor and that could be considered the people focused part of what I do. Yet, on the other side, much of the day-to-day church management is mine to oversee, which is about getting things done.

How does this balance play out?

Protect the Church diary. Someone has to do this. We don’t want it so full of events that people start to resent no free nights without opportunity to be with their own family or hang out with friends. How can we ‘go’ into all the world if we spend all our time at Church? Sometimes I have to say no. Not because I don’t like the event, more to just make sure we use our time wisely.

Help others discover what they can do. This is about being a leader of leaders. It’s about the delegation of tasks that I don’t need to do and keeping hold of the projects that only I can do. It’s not just about passing stuff around but more about helping others see what they are capable of. The only limit we have is the one we often put on ourselves. ‘I can’t’ can be changed. It takes time, encouragement, leading, equipping and sometimes just a good old-fashioned kick up the butt.

More conversations. Face to face catch-ups, both organised and organic. This is how you do the above. It’s time consuming but I probably have anything from 1 to 10 catch-ups each week. Some are intentional and made as an appointment, others are more impromptu. Most of these are with leaders in church, as well as those I am coaching via XFL.

Always look ahead. Occasionally I get called ‘statto’. I am a bit like Rain Man. Definitely. Definitely am. If I don’t know it’s happening then that probably means that it’s not official. A long range vision helps to know what fits and what doesn’t. A long range diary helps protect the diary and to know where people can get involved.

I’m no expert. I am just trying to do the best I can. Hopefully, most of the time I get it right. I am aware that sometimes I get it wrong. For that, I am sorry.