4 Signs it’s Time to Hire an Executive Pastor

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Org Chart - 4 Signs it’s Time to Hire an Executive PastorHaving served for five years as executive pastor in one of Canada’s larger churches, I’m frequently asked about the role of the EP, and specifically about when a growing church should think about hiring someone for this role.

Usually a senior pastor will start thinking about hiring for this role when weekend attendance climbs over 1000, pushing quickly toward 1500. The staff starts to grow, and the once simple church operation begins to grow more complex.

But how do you know when the time is right to pull the trigger and hire your first EP? Here are four signs to look for;

1. The senior pastor has insufficient time for staff leadership.
As the complexities of a growing church mount, one of the first areas often sacrificed is the senior pastor’s care and management of his staff. When this happens, staff morale suffers, ministry silos are built and a lack of strategic alignment is inevitable.

2. “Cracks” appear in areas such as budgeting and facility management.

A strong indicator that it’s time to consider bringing on an EP is when department cost over-runs are not being caught in a timely manner, or when issues of facility repair are given higher priority than a facility plan.

3. The gap between ministry activity and a ministry plan is widening.
Every church, whether missional, seeker, or purpose-driven, requires some sort of shared understanding that drives ministry decisions. If no one is ensuring that ministry resources are flowing toward activities which are achieving the results you believe God is calling you to, it may be time for an EP.

If signs 1 to 3 are appearing, the 4th sign is inevitable:

4. Core senior pastor functions are suffering.
Almost every church looks to the senior pastor for strong biblical preaching, compelling vision casting, and other core functions. If these are starting to suffer under the weight of the growing complexity of ministry, it may be time for an EP.

What other signs have you found which indicate it’s time to hire an executive pastor?

Helpful resources:

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Great insights Scott. We made the decision to hire an Executive Director when we reached 800. One of the best decisions I ever made. Thanks for the insights.

  2. Thanks Shawn. I’m finding a lot of energy these days on this topic; I’m going to try to find more resources to share regarding the e.p. role.

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