The more executive pastors I meet and work with, the more I am impressed with the absolutely vital work they do every day. You have your fingers in every arena of your church, tracking all the little details and thousand moving pieces that go into ministry work every day, all the while keeping your eyes on the big-picture vision. You develop the staff and other ministry leaders. You oversee the budget. You reinforce the church culture. You are an absolutely indispensable part of your ministry. Your spend so much of your time helping others grow and be better, taking the time for personal growth can often fall to the bottom of the list. Since you want to be as effective as possible but have so much on your plate, here are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help you grow.
1) What is our plan to move the church in the direction of our vision statement in the next 12 months? How about the next five years?
To answer this question, you have to know both where you currently are and where you want to be. What are the goals in your church’s vision statement? Is your plan actionable, with clear short- mid-, and long-term objectives? Helping your church reach that vision is a big part of why you, as the executive pastor, are where you are. It’s important not to lose sight of the vision … but if no one is taking the time to flesh out a plan and hold people accountable to the tasks within it, your vision will stay a distant dream.
2) Are the people I lead growing and getting what they need from me?
As an executive pastor, you are a leader of other leaders. Their growth and development is an important piece of the work you do. Don’t underestimate the return when you set aside some of your time to resource the leaders under you. What books, blogs, podcasts, or TED Talks will help them grow? Are they connected to a Tribe of people serving in a similar role that can help them gain new and valuable perspective? Your team looks to you for direction and leadership. A small investment of your time can pay large dividends.
3) Does our budget plan for the future?
How prepared are we for financial bumps in the road? Whatever your style of financial planning may be, it is absolutely critical that you have a financial plan in place for your church. Unlike the day-to-day budgeting concerns that your leader of finance probably manages, this is the high-level prioritization. Do you have a solid projection of future giving? Do you have savings for if your income falls short of projections, or a prioritization list worked out should you need to push pause on some programs or ministries? And beyond that, do you use periodic giving and budget reviews to identify trends early and nip giving downturns in the bud? Without a plan and without review, financial challenges can blindside your church. You have the power to prevent that.
4) Am I basing strategic decisions on monthly, quarterly, and annual metrics reviews?
Executive pastors need metrics. If giving is down, you need to know how and among whom. If the attendance numbers in your children’s ministry are dwindling, you need to know when it started. But as wonderful as that data is, it’s only useful when it’s acted on. Knowing whose giving numbers have decreased will tell you if you should focus on a stewardship message for newer believers at the church, or spend your energy on a new generosity campaign among your church’s biggest givers. Knowing where attendance has spiked and where it has dropped off will let you pinpoint possible causes and adjust accordingly. Knowledge is power — but only if the person who makes the strategic decisions uses it!
As an executive pastor, you have incredible influence over the health and direction of the ministry you serve. You influence the trajectory of the entire church. Your personal and professional development are worth examining and investing in! If you are interested in a deeper dive into how to grow in your role, an in-depth assessment from Church Community Builder is a great place to start. There is an assessment exclusively tailored for executive pastors. At the end, you receive detailed findings and recommendations for improvement — so you don’t have to go it alone. Take some time to ask yourself important questions, and you’ll pave the way for your whole ministry to flourish.