Modern-day churches require more than a sanctuary and someone to give a sermon; many contain schools, day cares, shelters, drug rehabilitation centers and vocational training sites. They have programs for both youth and senior citizens, as well as programs such as divorce support groups, weight loss classes and anger management sessions. These services are vital for congregations.
However, these programs mean churches must employ personnel to run them, and that requires skilled workers who are competent in both business and human resources settings. This is where an executive pastor comes in. Hiring a qualified executive pastor is one of the most responsible measures a church can take to ensure the integrity of their programming and services.
What Does an Executive Pastor Do?
The executive pastor is a link between the church staff and the congregation. He or she treats the church like a business in order to remain effective and organized. Here are a few specific job functions of an executive pastor:
- Pastor’s gatekeeper and organizer: many people from outside the church and inside the congregation try to reach pastors on a daily basis. The executive pastor prioritizes the pastor’s schedule and determines when meetings will take place.
- Spokesperson and representative: the executive pastor may need to represent the church in the media and to the general public.
- Fiscal and financial protector: they ensure the fiscal and financial integrity of the church. The executive pastor must make prudent decisions daily regarding the handling of money.
- Risk and liability auditor: a great executive pastor can see pitfalls before they come; they are aware of potential problems and can prevent the pastor and other staff members from stumbling blocks.
- Hiring manager: executive pastors screen and interview new employees prior to passing them on to the pastor for consideration.
Other areas the executive pastor might oversee or have a hand in include facilities management, volunteers coordination, conflict mediation, job performance reviews, bank negotiations, land acquisition, loans for the church, etc.
Executive pastors work at the office within a church. They typically work full time, but smaller congregations may only be able to employ administrators on a part time basis.
Expectations: Salary and Career Growth
Salaries for executive pastors will vary based on location, experience, job responsibilities and the size of the congregation for which they work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report wage information for non-profit administrative services managers, but for-profit administrative services managers earned a median annual wage of $83,790 in May 2014. Chron.com reports a slightly lower salary for “church administrative services managers” at $77,140 annually.
Education and Other Qualifications
Education requirements for this occupation will vary based on the congregation, but executive pastors typically need an associate degree or higher to compete in the job market. Campbellsville University offers four degree programs that will help prepare a student for a rich career as an executive pastor: the Associate of Science in Christian Studies, the Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministries Master of Business Administration in Church Management, and the Master of Theology. All are offered fully online.
Coursework that will aid in an executive pastor’s success might include accounting, human resources, budgeting, purchasing, management, tax matters and communication. Courses that help them become analytical thinkers and improve their communication and listening skills are a bonus.