Posted in Executive Pastor

Filters when Management and Ministry Face Off

What’s your decision filter when you have pastoral responsibilities and leadership responsibilities that are in tension?

Can what’s best pastorally for your church not be what’s best for managing your church?

I’ve blogged tips before to help ministers fight through some of the non-preferred management tasks that typically accompany their ministry work. But this is less about tasks and more about creating a decision filter. A decision filter that can help us choose between pathways that are pastoral in nature and pathways that lean toward leadership and management.

At some point, most ministry leadership positions will put you in a place where seemingly the most pastoral thing to do is not the best thing for management of the church and its resources.  And it could be they seem at opposition.

Executive vs. Pastor

Not too long ago, I began to think through and articulate this tension using my position’s title of “Executive Pastor.” There’s a lot in my job that requires “executive” thinking and decisions. Yet, much of my job also requires “pastoral” work and decisions (luckily for me there are people I work with who are called and competent in both areas and it’s them who carry out a lot of the ministry work). And sometimes these parts of my job (title) are in tension.

For example’s sake, this tension could surface with a staff member who’s woefully underperforming. The executive side sees the need to move swiftly toward a termination plan. Whereas the pastoral side wants to pause and extend extra grace. The executive side considers how this underperformance may be impacting their teammates. How their underperformance means underperformance for the church’s ministry. Pastorally the consideration goes to the person’s family who is active in your church and what the decision could mean to their “church home.”

My pathway for solving the executive-pastor tension…

All my executive type decisions need to go through a pastoral filter. But because of job responsibility, I can’t ignore the sound management responsibility. Yet there are times when a good decision for the executive side never gets made because the pastoral side weighs more.

In other words, I’ve determined, all my executive decisions must go through my pastoral filter. But I’ve learned not all my pastoral decisions will pass muster in my executive filter.

There is work our church does that does not make that much sense in an executive world. We invest resources in things that don’t show high return. Not only a dollar return (we are nonprofit), but also not an equitable return on spiritual things based on what spiritual energy was put into them. So why do we still do some of these? It’s simple, we feel called by God to do it.

So yes, you and I need to allocate resources of money and manpower in the most efficient way possible (executive). We want our church’s efforts to go further faster for the Kingdom. But we must remember God’s economy is not ours. So yes, make decisions for both the “executive” and “pastor” roles of your work. But make sure all decisions go through the pastoral lens. It’s the pastoral lens which is defined by scripture, has an eternal Kingdom in my mind, and the great commission.

As for me, I’ll count my calling to serve Christ in the local church a loss if anyone would say of me “He’s a decent executive, but he’s poor on the pastoral side.”

Does your ministry or management filter carry the most weight?

Are you ensuring church decisions are getting pushed through your pastoral filter?

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A Better Question In a Performance Review


Do you want to know how your team really feels about their job? Your church? Or perhaps even how they feel about you as a supervisor?

Knowing how your team “really” feels is critical to for your supervision, their development, and the success of your team (church).

If you want to know the right answers, you have to ask the right questions. Even in a good performance management system, the important questions can get lost among all the other small ones.  How your team members really feel is what I’ll refer to as the last 2% (that term is not unique to me and I’ve blogged previously on the “last 2%” concept). The last 2% is what you want to make sure you communicate (or have communicated to you) in your staff reviews.

I’ve found one question gets me the most helpful and transparent information from those I lead. It’s simple, has two-parts, and has begun some very informative conversations in review meetings I’ve had with staff (sometimes in writing, other times verbally):

  • What is it I’m doing as your supervisor that’s helping you complete the goals we’ve set for you and in your day-to-day job activities?
  • What is it I’m doing as your supervisor that’s hindering you from reaching all your goals and can get in the way of you doing day-to-day job activities?

3 Rules of Engagement when asking this question:

  1. Listen to their feedback. Don’t defend.
  2. Ask clarifying questions.

In any scenario where you’re trying to elicit a response, frame your questions in such way that assumes the person has feedback. It’s the difference between:

“What feedback do you have for me?” and, “Do you have any feedback for me?”

If you assume there‘s feedback, you’re more likely to get feedback.

  1. Be trustworthy.

Even if you ask the right question and they provide you honest (last 2%) feedback, it’s only good for one try – unless you listen to their feedback and affect change based on it (or at least explain why you may not). You can’t hold their input over them (especially if it’s negative).

If you listen and don’t punish people for their feedback, they’ll be more likely to give it to you in the future.

I encourage you to try this out at your next review meeting. I believe you’ll be a better supervisor because of it.

P.S. I believe the two-part question fits nicely into a performance management system with formal reviews, but it can still work in informal settings with those you lead.

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Why a Multisite Model with Multiple Preachers

©DigitalGenetics/ Dollar Photo Club

What’s best for you may not be best for others. That could be true of the following philosophy from Brentwood Baptist Church. However, I wanted to share with you why when Brentwood Baptist chose a multi-site model, we chose not to have video venues, but instead to have live preaching at each campus. Perhaps something from our thinking will resonate as you consider your church’s future.

The multi-site strategy for us took two years of R & D and then time for implementation. A team studied, traveled, and prayed about what God would have for us (this hard work was done before I began serving here). For us, multi-site meant establishing both regional and ministry campuses. At this point, our five campuses are all within middle Tennessee. Each of the four regional sites is within 20 miles of our central campus (Brentwood campus), as is our one ministry campus. And for each of those sites, we have a campus and teaching pastor.

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