How to Work With An Executive Pastor

The term Executive Pastor is not to be found in the Bible…at least from what I can find.  So…what are they…who are they…what do they do? This week’s post is by Dr. John C. Mrazek who is an XP, but also a consultant to churches that may need some assistance in this area.  John shares some insight that you will find helpful.

Thanks John

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Executive Pastors (XPs) can be really tough to figure out. Are they a business leader or a pastor?  Or some type of combination? The answer is “yes to all of the above”. Sometimes they act like a pure business person who is counting every penny four times. Other times they are leading a staff devotional and praying with struggling church members. Sometimes they are easy to talk to and other times they use an incomprehensible vocabulary made up of words like ROI and P&L statement. I’ll say it again- Executive Pastors are different!

I’ve been an XP and now I serve Executive Pastors and sometimes I can’t figure any of us out either. If you came from a marketplace, you may understand your XP better than anyone else. If your church just hired an Executive Pastor, you are probably looking for a way to connect with this strange new person who is now your supervisor and pastor. Let me give you a tip that should help you understand this person.

Tip #1: Explaining who XPs are and how they got that way

Let me start out with a quick explanation of who this person is and how they got here. Some Executive Pastors are “corporate refugees” who escaped from the marketplace. They lived in a world completely devoted to profit. They also worked alongside people who were ferociously climbing the corporate ladder and who may act like a mercenary instead of an employee.

Then, one day they left a high salary and title to become a pastor and help their church. Now, as this new adventure begins they are excited about using their business training to make the church run more efficiently. What they don’t know is that the goals of ministry and business can be diametrically opposed and their job is going to be really tough. Don’t get me wrong – churches do need help on the business side. The key to success is that the XP stops thinking/worrying about profit and starts caring for people ASAP!

One way to summarize what an XP is going through is to understand that they are a stranger in a strange land. The staff looks the same as they did in the marketplace. But now they talk about people all of the time. Church leaders are completely consumed by thinking about people. This can be weird for a new XP. A new XP desperately needs someone to bounce thoughts off of and to double check their perceptions of this new reality.

Tip #2: XPs excel at systems and processes

XPs love numbers and ask questions about expenses that seem too focused on the dollars and less about the ministry your facility supports. In my past roles, I got way too excited about projections about the lifespan of the carpet and HVAC systems and that scared my pastor/boss.

As the Facilities Pastor/Director you are an expert at the support systems, cleaning systems, and utilities of your campus. You will make a devoted friend of your XP if you get excited about reducing the cost of anything related to your area. This aligns with their former world and feels like an area that they can show immediate improvement in.

Speaking as an XP, I would recommend that you bring expense cuts to your XP’s attention before they ask. I was into my Facilities Pastor/Director expenses within weeks of starting my new job. Please set up a meeting with your new XP as soon as possible. Don’t forget to bring with you a list of ways to cut costs and ideas you have for reducing expenses during the next budget cycle.

XPs are different, but they also have a pastor’s heart that is beginning to wake up and beat regularly. We love our new job and the chance to help God’s kingdom expand this side of Heaven. We have also come from a place that is very different from the environment we find ourselves in as we serve alongside you. Our hearts are in the right place, but our execution or communication may be a little abrupt, impersonal, or too concise. Please forgive us and try to extend a bunch of grace as we question everything you do and why you do it. We want to help and we can in ways that you may not have thought of before.

Lastly, if you need help communicating with your XP or anticipating what they may focus on first, email me at johnmrazek@sharedxp.org and I will be happy to jump in and help. I am an XP and I can help you figure out yours.

Dr. John C. Mrazek

President & Business/Ministry Coach

SharedXP, Your Part-Time Executive Pastor Service

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