How the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor roles Work Together

The relationship between the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor can make or break a church staff team and has profound impact upon the overall ministry of the church. Get this right and you’ll end up getting a lot right. Get it wrong, and well, it’s going to be tough sledding.

There are some basic no brainer things that make a great Lead and Executive Pastor partnership and of course trust is at the foundation of it.

  • You can’t allow triangulation; the Lead and Executive Pastor need to stay connected and on the same page. I’d recommend a weekly touch base meeting to help solve this.
  • You can’t have a “good cop / bad cop” situation. You don’t want the staff to love the Lead Pastor and fear the Executive Pastor. Executive Pastors remember that fear doesn’t make people want to follow you. On the other side of the coin, Lead Pastors can’t delegate all of the tough decisions and execution to the Executive, the church needs your leadership not just your direction.
  • A better analogy for a healthy partnership between a Lead and Executive Pastor is more like a mom and a dad leading a family together through mutual submission to one another. Leading in their area of brilliance and submitting in their areas of weakness.
  • The Executive Pastor needs to support the Lead Pastor publicly and when needed appropriately challenge them privately.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the basic lanes are that the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor should be running in here are 4 things that each role can’t delegate away:

There are 4 Things the Lead Pastor can’t Delegate

  1. Leadership
  2. Teaching
  3. Vision
  4. Culture

There are 4 Things the Executive Pastor can’t Delegate

  1. Strategy
  2. Execution
  3. Leading the Sr. Leadership Team
  4. Daily Train, Develop & Coach the Culture

Posted in Leadership

4 Responses to “How the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor roles Work Together”

  1. Eric swanson July 30, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

    Well done Paul. This is always an interesting dance

  2. Scott Savage July 30, 2018 at 5:02 pm #

    Paul – this is great! Having been in the lead pastor seat for two years as of this month, I was nodding my head throughout this article. I’m forwarding this piece to my XP. Great stuff here. Thanks for your faithfulness to writing (even prepping these pieces to go up while you’re on sabbatical!)

  3. Beverly Dent November 11, 2019 at 5:52 pm #

    Our new lead Pastor got rid of our senior executive pastor saying his position wasn’t biblical. But I left the church because my husband of 33 years left me and he told the Pastor he always wanted a family with me, but felt I loved my son more and that’s not biblical. The lead pastor agreed with my husband. My husband said that he wouldn’t come back to church until the Pastor did something with me. I went from a Baptist Church and now attending a Nazarene church. I am taking a bible study and support classes at a Catholic Church.


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