I was having a conversation a while back with a senior pastor and his new executive pastor on several topics. One of the questions they asked me was, “What was your first year in the role like? What should we be doing?”
Having joined the staff 18+ years ago, it was fun to reflect on how my first year went. I thought I would share my response …
First of all, my decision to become an executive pastor, serving with the senior pastor, was made over four years. The senior pastor and I started having breakfast together almost from the beginning, as I served (eventually leading) the tech team in the Arts ministry area. Little did I know, as we became friends, he was thinking about the next few years and how the church would need a business leader to take on this role.
When I took the job in April of 2004, two major things happened almost immediately:
- The Senior Pastor Checked Out – After a few weeks to make sure I was ready to go, the senior pastor moved his office to the basement of his house and rarely came into the office for the next six months. Whenever a staff member went to him to ask him a question or to otherwise get something done, he would say, “You need to talk to Kevin about that.” What was he doing? He recognized that at that point in the church’s life, his role needed to evolve from day-to-day management of the details in addition to overall vision casting, spiritual leadership, and teaching to just overall vision casting, spiritual leadership, and teaching. To get this done and to drive the point home to the staff that they needed to start coming to me for most things, he literally “checked out” for six months, rarely coming into the office as needed to collaborate with the arts pastor on service planning and design.
- I Connected With A Mentor – Right from the beginning, I connected with the community of Independent Christian Church executive pastors with whom I now regularly communicate and collaborate. Specifically, I was introduced to Don Anderson at Compass Christian Church in Chandler, Arizona. I traveled out there after a few months in the role to shadow Don for a day, asking him lots of questions.
Now reflecting on that first year, I’m glad the senior pastor did what he did. We’ve gone through a few more “leadership transitions” since then, but that first one was HUGE in helping me assume the role and transition his role as the church’s senior leader.