What is an Executive Pastor?

Serve Jesus. Serve your church. Serve your lead pastor.

This simple job description defines the role of the executive pastor.

At Mars Hill, the executive pastor (XP) was the second hire we made for any new local church, after the lead pastor. Together, these two men complement one another to form the core of an effective church leadership team.

The lead pastor focuses on teaching, training leaders, and casting the vision. The executive pastor focuses on systems, management, and implementing the vision. Here are 10 ways this plays out in the ministry of a good XP:

1. An XP’s purpose is to spread the gospel and grow the church.

An XP loves to see lives changed by Jesus.

2. An XP serves.

He focuses on the success, needs, and experience of others.

3. An XP puts his lead pastor’s success above his own.

If the lead pastor is doing his job well, the church will grow and expand (see #1).

4. An XP handles all of the day-to-day operations of the church.

An XP must know how to run a business in order to ensure good stewardship of church resources and finances. His responsibilities also include all of the logistics for weekly services and other events.

5. An XP reinvents himself.

Depending on the characteristics and needs of the lead pastor, and depending on the size of the church, an XP must adapt over time in order to serve effectively.

6. An XP offers solutions.

An XP never presents a problem without at least one possible solution.

7. An XP covers the weaknesses of his lead pastor.

An XP knows what his lead pastor does and does not like to do. By covering the areas where a lead pastor is weak, an XP allows the lead pastor to operate out of his strengths.

8. An XP is not an assistant.

An assistant helps the lead pastor get his projects done while an XP actually completes more projects for the lead pastor, taking those projects off his plate. At the same time, an XP is not too proud to work on menial tasks as necessary. He’ll make the coffee, if necessary, in order to serve his lead pastor.

9. An XP loves second place.

A good XP is not a successor. He serves the lead pastor and doesn’t use him as a steppingstone. Though it may not always be easy, the XP gladly submits himself to the vision and leadership of the lead pastor.

10. An XP prays.

Outside of his family, nobody knows a lead pastor’s struggles, stressors, and schedule better than his second-in-command, which gives the XP a special responsibility to intercede.

Scripture sums it up best, and Hebrews 13:17-18 describes well the calling of an XP:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.

–Sutton Turner

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