Dear frustrated Pastor…
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the scale of your responsibilities? Have you ever thought, “I wish I were spending more time teaching and doing outreach”? You're not alone in this frustration. The early apostles were dealing with this exact thing.
Acts chapter 6 tells us a fascinating story about how frustrated the apostles were regarding administrating the church's benevolence program. We don't know what caused this, but we know the people were frustrated with how the program was being run. The Hellenists believed they were being discriminated against because of their cultural background. Perhaps this was true, or perhaps it was only perception. However, the apostles wisely discerned that the program needed to be administered in a much more transparent way.
Here's the problem: running a transparent benevolence program takes a lot of time (remember, this was the age before spreadsheets and databases). In Acts 6:2 (ESV), the apostles said: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” Interestingly, in other translations (GNB), this text reads: “It is not right for us to neglect the preaching of God's word in order to handle finances.”
So what is it? Did they need someone serving at the table or handling the finances? Well, the answer is both. The first deacons were people filled with spirit and wisdom. They needed a heart to care for people and the business Acumen to maintain a transparent accounting of the church's Treasury. It's precisely this verse that got me rethinking my role as executive director in a Lutheran Church. I'm a type of deacon, and there's a Biblical precedent for my role.
You see, in the Non-Denoninationa churches, they figured this issue out a long time ago. The vast majority of them have someone serving as senior pastor and another person serving as executive pastor. The senior pastor is the primary gospel communicator and the person responsible for establishing the contextual mission of the local church. The job of the executive Pastor is execution, and this can range from Ministry programs to operational issues such as facilities and finances. As a former military man, I liken this to the jobs of the Company Commander and the Company First Sergeant.
So, with all this established, let's get granular and talk about ten specific ways your church can benefit from having an executive director:
1. Strategic Planning: We're called to be faithful stewards, which involves more than just spiritual guidance; it's also about strategic foresight. An Executive Director helps build and execute long-term plans, ensuring that your church doesn't just aimlessly wander but progresses towards a God-honoring future.
2. Operational Efficiency: Remember when you could prepare your sermon without constant interruptions? An Executive Director takes on most operational duties, allowing you to return to what you were called to do—shepherd your flock. But it's not just lifting the load; it's also about ensuring that someone in your ministry draws upon the best business and ministry practices to achieve operational outcomes.
3. Financial Stewardship: Unless your seminary training includes an MBA, finances can be a daunting task. An Executive Director with the right background can handle budget planning, track spending, and explore new avenues for resource allocation.
4. Staff Management: We've all had that Sunday where nothing goes right because someone didn't get the memo. An Executive Director oversees staff management, ensuring everyone is on the same page and equipped for success. They can include having robust HR policies and accountable staff goals.
5. Conflict Resolution: Church conflict is as old as the New Testament, but handling it doesn't have to take up all your time. An Executive Director brings an additional layer of leadership, mediating disputes and restoring peace, especially when the dispute is more of a legal or operational matter.
6. Communication & Marketing: Ever feel like you're the switchboard operator for your church? An Executive Director serves as a communication hub, ensuring a smooth flow of information between you, the staff, the congregation, and the community at large. In a larger church context, this can also include oversight of a communications team.
7. Community Outreach: You're passionate about reaching your community, but organizing events can be a full-time job. Let your Executive Director handle the logistics while you focus on delivering the message.
8. Program Oversight: Whether it's VBS, a food pantry, or discipleship classes, programs need management. An Executive Director ensures alignment with your church's vision and maximizes impact.
9. Tech-Savvy Ministry: Let’s face it, these days, you need more than just a good sermon—you need a good website and social media presence. An Executive Director can help incorporate modern technology to widen your reach and effectiveness.
10. Quality Assurance: Are your ministries achieving their goals? Are your congregants' needs being met effectively? An Executive Director helps monitor these metrics, ensuring that your church isn’t just doing things but doing the *right* things.
So, if you're struggling with administrative tasks and feel like you can't return to your pastoral roots, maybe it's time to entertain the idea of an Executive Director. Trust me, it can be a game-changer. You don’t have to carry the burden alone; there’s room in the mission field for leaders of all kinds.
To fruitful ministries and lighter burdens,