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    Why Fire the Executive Pastor?

    Why Fire the Executive Pastor?

    Casey Graham says he is seeing a new trend in church staffing:  Firing the XP (Executive Pastor).  But why?  Here are three of the reasons Casey thinks are behind the trend:

    1.  They were hired too early

    Most pastors in a church plant think they need an executive pastor to “get things done”.  The senior pastor is told if they want to grow they have to do less and let others do more, so the pastor hires the XP early on to get things done.  As the church grows the person that was hired was good for the church at 200 but not at 500.  The expectations are usually high for the XP because they are getting paid more than an administrative worker.

    Senior pastors:  You need to probably hire an assistant early on, not an XP!  The assistant usually can scale with you better than the big salary you will feel you need to pay an XP.

    2.  Unclear job description

    XP’s usually are in charge of everything.  When the XP is in charge of everything it is very hard to define success for the job.  I usually see the XP doing a lot of everything but gets credit for very little.  The XP is then looked upon as someone who manages a lot but accomplishes a little.  When this happens the pastor starts to think, “What do you really do?  Are you really worth 50k?”

    Senior Pastors: It is extremely important to define very clear goals and responsibilities.  This happens in the hiring process AND the review process.  You should do formal reviews at least twice a year.

    3. Controling pastor

    The pastor is told from conferences and books, “you can’t manage all your staff and meetings by yourself, someone else needs to do it.”  The pastor goes to the XP and says, “I need you to lead the staff and meetings.”  The change results in many people reporting to the XP and few to the senior guy.  This is cool for a little bit and the lead guy feels relief but soon after it falls apart.  It falls apart because the lead guy transfers the responsibility but not the authority.  If the XP still has to go to the lead guy for a yes or no on decisions it will not work.  Also, the lead pastor can start to feel “out of the loop” and things happen that he doesn’t know about and he feels out of control.  When this happens the controlling pastor snatches back the reigns and the XP feels defeated.

    Take a look at his blog for more insight on this trend, as well as an admonition to Senior Pastors everywhere...

    What do you think?  Are you seeing this happen more and more?  Have you fired an XP recently?  Or, are you an XP that recently lost his position?  What were the reasons?



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    1. Leonard on Tue, October 20, 2009

      very insightful…

    2. SW on Tue, October 20, 2009

      very true. Have lived it. Mostly because of #1 for me.

    3. Anon on Wed, October 21, 2009

      I lived it as well - #3 Big Time.  Fired for not emailing enough to the Sr Pastor!!

    4. Dan on Wed, October 21, 2009

      I recently stepped out of my role as XP of a congregation of 1,000 and can attest to some of what was posted, especially points 2 and 3. I had very unclear expectations from the senior pastor and was given oversight of everything without the authority and had to constantly ask for permission to get important things done. I pretty much had enough of that. XP and SPs need to work in tandem. The SP I was with enjoyed the lack of personal involvement with the staff but wanted them to jump when ever he wanted something done even if it conflicted with organization goals. You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

    5. Jason on Fri, October 23, 2009

      good insight and true, i agree.


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    6. bob on Mon, October 26, 2009

      True on all levels. I ended up initiating a vision for the churches (3) I XP’ed because the pastors really never developed one or the people to implement any kingdom strategies to reach people….inside or outside of the church or to develop any leadership. Control and competition of gifts. How ridiculous.Very frustrating.
      But, when it came down to implementing new compensation packages for the Senior Pastors I was a temporary hero.  I did it all, developing paid and volunteer staff, budgeting and expenditures, building programs, re-design facility space, 40-Days of Purpose, pastor appreciations, special events, graphics,  marketing and every other thing nobody else would touch.
      The pastors checked out during the change processes and then reappeared when the boards asked where they were or there was actually meaningful success.  I walked a tight rope with the explanation of “we are in transition”  until the Senior Pastor needed a scape goat for his lack of involvement. Sounds tough doesn’t it? It was.
      Now I am a Senior Pastor with great people who are growing in their gifts and reaching people. Wow, vision and clarity of responsibilities really does work.

    7. JJ on Tue, October 27, 2009

      I’m on my way out.  All three points apply.  I think the challenges are greater if the Sr. pastor is also the founding pastor.

    8. David Miller on Fri, October 30, 2009

      This literally happened yesterday for our church.  #3 seems the most true for us.  Trying to find that balance has been very allusive.  What’s the answer? Is the Ex pastor an unnecessary roll or have we simply not found the balance?

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