Home > Church Strategies > Church Organizational Structure- The Pastor’s Role

Church Organizational Structure- The Pastor’s Role

In our previous post on Church Organizational Structure, we discussed the various types of structures a church can have to complete their mission.  It seems this is a topic of great interest since this topic along with the post on Church Job Descriptions received a lot of traffic.  So what about this topic makes it so interesting?

In reviewing the state of the church and these topics, I could only surmise that like many businesses, churches are trying to accomplish the most with the least costly church organizational structure available.  The most common solution in the business world it to simply cut the staff to the bare minimum and hope your service levels do not diminish.  In Church Organizations, however, this is not a luxury we have since our “service level” is tied so closely to the Gospel we preach.  So what do you do if you are in this situation?  It is a tough position to find yourself in, however, there is a way out. Let’s look at your current issue in picture form:


So you have these three situations staring at you, all seem to be separated and you are trying to somehow find or prayer through a way to merge them together to resemble something like this:


Is there a way to do it?  There is, however, it will take a paradigm shift for some who are used to or trained by your more structured churches.  Many of us become bound by the old syndrome of “this is how it has always been done.”  Let’s take a look at one role that most likely is the one that needs the most change.

If you look at most church organizational structures, you will find at the top of all of the organization structures is the pastor.  Depending upon the size of the church, this is not a bad thing.  I say this tongue and cheek.  If you are a pastor, then I a more than sure you know this word is used 173 times Bible and can describe the feeding of sheep as in Genesis 29:7 or the spiritual feeding of human beings as in Jeremiah 3:15, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (KJV).  So where’s my struggle?

I struggle when I see some churches of moderate size and growth with pastors who are doing everything for everyone.  Sometimes, when someone is called into ministry (speaking from experience as a youth minister), we tend to think that Christ has uniquely called us to be everyone’s helper, teacher, prayer partner, and shepherd, all at the same time.  Granted, in smaller churches or churches in the early stage of the life cycle, this is a necessary trait to have.  Unfortunately, as the church size and mission grows, it is hard for some of the pastors to grow out of that mind set.  It is in this transitional time period that pastors are to transition more into the shepherd than a simple herdsman.

Jeremiah 3:15 is a great example of what a pastor should ultimately work toward.  It does not say, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall administrate you, take care of the church finances, run from board meeting to board meeting, etc.”  It has become an epidemic in some churches for pastors to run from one meeting to the next, schedule time to minister to those in the hospital, cut the grass, and by the way, schedule some time to work on the sermon series for this coming Sunday.  Granted, there are pastors out there who put the message first, but I am not talking about them.  I am talking about the pastors who are so busy with church life, they forget the main objective for this role is to feed the flock.  I find it no coincidence that Jeremiah 3:15 states God will “shall feed” the flock and the answer Christ gives Peter after the reseurrection is the “feed my flock.”  (John 21:15)  So if the primary and daresay, most important role of the pastor is to feed, why then, does the feeding duty usually come at the end of list?

It is for this reason in the series on Church Organizational Structure discussed establishing an Executive Pastor, or if you were to use business terms, a COO.  What is the role of the Executive Pastor?  Quite simply, the Executive Pastor is the day to day manager of the ministries for the church and anything else that is needed to be overseen to allow the Pastor to spend time in prayer, discernment and preparation for delivering the Word.  Should the pastor be involved in the church activities?  Of course, the pastor should know what is going on and weigh in on major decisions, participate in meetings, and handle ministry needs throughout the church.  However, with having an Executive Pastor, this becomes something the pastor can choose to participate in.  The pastor is then able to focus more on “feeding the flock” than simply administering it.

restAnother wonderful benefit to this Church Organizational Structure is the benefit of rest to and for the pastor.  How can one preach and teach the Gospel on Wednesday, Sunday, or however many services your church may have, if they can barely keep their eyes open?  Pastors, like Jesus, need to have time to rejuvenate themselves both physically and spiritually.  Even Jesus would take time to go to the mountain and pray or would take a nap in the boat while his disciples manned the boat.

What Now?


So again, if you find yourself in this type of a situation:

and you want to get to this:


It may be a time for you to shift your focus.  If you are a pastor reading this, then who on your team can be made an Executive Pastor to help allow you to focus on connecting with the vine that is Christ?  In the following blogs, we will have some basic, generic job descriptions for you with one of them being that of the Executive Pastor. I hope this will be some help for you.

If you to have this type of a situation and would like an outside opinion from someone who has helped organizations with this type of a process, please contact Christian Management Consulting.  We will partner with you and help walk you through a step by step process of evaluating your current Church Organizational Structure and developing a plan of action.

If this article was of interest to you, please check some of the others in this topic by clicking on one of the titles below:

Divide or Don’t Divide?  Church Organizational Structures

Questions for Church Organizational Structures

Reorganizing your Team According to their Strengths

Building the Right Church Team

Church Organizational Structures : A Bit More

Discovering The Right Church Organizational Structure

Discovering The Right Church Organizational Structure – Part II

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About the Writer:


Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

  1. November 19, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    You mentioned the importance of the pastor putting first things first, that it is his primary calling. I agree wholeheartedly. Hope many of your readers will encourage the pastor to do exactly that! Here’s a word from my book ABCs Of Ministry on the subject: WHATEVER HAPPENS, then, be prepared. Spend the time it takes to write, and memorize your message so you can preach it from memory with confidence. You might be forgiven for
    lacking administrative ability, for not being good at making hospital calls or visiting in the home, etc. but nobody will forgive you for not being prepared. Count on it. Take the time to prepare. To do this you will have to forge a way to get the time you need for study. Use your calendar to set aside specific hours on specific days of the week in which to study for your sermon.
    By all means, plan out what you want to communicate to your people. Learn your message. Familiarize yourself with the
    final product. Don’t stumble around trying to recall what it is you intended to say. In my case I write out the entire message,word for word,-remember, the words we use carry the message we want to convey and it is therefore very important that we use those very words as closely as possible. I then put those important, God-given words in a personalized note form. Finally, I memorize those notes well enough that when I stand up to speak, that message and those notes are so much a part of me that taking sermon notes into the pulpit isn’t necessary. I can hear some of you thinking: “But you’re talking about spending hours and hours on sermon preparation.” You’re right, that’s exactly what I suggesting. Your Lord and the people to whom He has assigned you deserve every bit of that time. Remember that this is your primary calling. Not secondary. Not something you do with the time you have left over. It’s the prime thing for which God has called you. Perhaps your ministry is in music, or some other ministry for which you have
    agreed with God to be responsible. The time you take for preparation is mportant time which you are spending worshiping
    God and being faithful to His high calling.
    There are ways to get the time you need to prepare, and there are people who will gladly help you at this point.

  1. November 14, 2008 at 9:25 pm

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