Fifth Act Consulting


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The Online Executive Pastor


Churches are always in a state of growth or decline. At least, that is how it is perceived. We are always looking at the trends and numbers and wondering “What are we doing or not doing that facilitating growth or decline?” Now, here, I’ll tip my hat and say that sometimes we are involved heavily in that part of the decision making process for someone and at other times, it’s almost as if there is Someone else involved in that process… Either way, most churches are looking for ways to become aware of how they are affecting someone’s ability to engage with them as a community as well as how they can improve that process. One of the ways a church usually goes about this process is by hiring an Executive Pastor. 

An Executive Pastor is usually hired to oversee operations, be a ministry strategist and to be a “second in command” to the Lead Pastor. The church that is thinking about, or in the process of hiring an executive pastor is probably beginning to see some growth and is trying to figure out a way to let the Lead Pastor do more of what he or she is gifted at and allow someone else, more qualified and more passionate, to lead in these other areas. Here is the rub though. On average, the Executive Pastor has a salary that is 75% of the Lead Pastor’s, making him or her the second highest paid person on staff, making this hire a pretty big financial decision. 

The median salaries are all over the board as to how much an Executive Pastor makes, but it’s pretty consistently right at 75% of whatever the lead pastor makes. So for the sake of seeing some numbers: Lead Pastor - $50,000 = Executive Pastor - $37,500 | Lead Pastor - $75,000 = Executive Pastor - $56,250 | Lead Pastor - $100,000 = Executive Pastor - $75,000. You can see how this plays out. The church that is seeing growth and is ready to hire an Executive Pastor probably doesn’t have the extra 60k a year lying around to be able to see that growth realized in a healthy way. At this fork in the road there seem to be two options: either hire the Executive Pastor and figure out the money later (hope that you grow enough to cover the Executive Pastor’s salary), or try to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do it on the backs of your staff and your volunteers. 

For the record, I’ve been at churches that have taken these two approaches and have succeeded and thrived. I’m not saying that the process was easy, but I am saying that it is a possibility. 

But what if there was a third way? A different possibility. An option that didn’t involve the stress and anxiety of trying to figure it out yourself, or holding your budget hostage for a few years? 

If you will, allow me to paint a picture for you. 

You feel the strain of your church growing. Your staff is feeling it. Your people are feeling it. You are certainly feeling it. You know you need to make another hire to help facilitate this growth, but that process, if not done well, could lead to some massive missteps. Hiring an Executive Pastor, at least a good one, is going to cost you and your church dearly. And hopefully, this person turns out to be the real deal and you actually enjoy working with him or her. That’s how most church hires go anyway, right? 

You start looking around and putting feelers out and you realize that there is no way you can afford the person or the hiring process of flying people in or actually paying them after they get there. So you move on to plan b. You begin to look at your staff and your leaders and you start to wonder how you can begin to split up the duties that would fall to an Executive Pastor around to them. The Worship Pastor gets the technology piece, duh. The Administrative Assistant gets some operational duties. The Children’s Pastor get’s some small group responsibilities. You start to feel good about this plan! Maybe this will work out and you don’t have to pay anyone anything extra?! 

Then you realize that it might work, but for how long? How long can you continue to dump responsibilities on people who didn’t necessarily sign up for that in the first part? 

So you turn to the almighty Google. There has to be another way right? 

Yes. There is another way, and maybe you found your way here by doing exactly that. You’re at the end of your rope trying to figure this thing out and you landed here. 

We are interested in mitigating some of the risk involved in the two ways mentioned before by offering to cover parts of what an Executive Pastor would offer. Nothing can replace having an Executive Pastor on staff and in the trenches, but what if you could get 40%-60% of what you need from an Executive Pastor at a fraction of what that might end up costing you? What if you could build the groundwork for the systems and processes you need to be able to sustain growth with your current staffing structure? What if you could explore ways of teaching yourself to fish rather than immediately hiring the fisherman? 

Let’s chat

If you’re still reading this and you’re intrigued, or at the very least curious, let’s talk. No strings, no promises, no catch, just a conversation. 

Click here and I’ll get in touch with you.