Movement: A culture of constant personal and corporate growth and improvement is enabled through effective change management, self-development and a leadership pipeline

How Executive Pastors Inhibit Change

Over twenty plus years as an Executive Pastor I found myself frequently using words like………routinize, systematize and equilibrium. I have found other Executive Pastors have a similar bias in vocabulary.

  • Routinize is to develop into a regular procedure.
  • Systematize is to reduce to an orderly procedure.
  • Equilibrium is a stable or unchanging system.

Executive Pastors spend many years learning how to routinize and systematize things so that the church and its ministries run efficiently. We are skilled at creating and maintaining organizational equilibrium that reduces risks and avoids problems.

These are all noble and necessary objectives but are behaviors that at the same time inadvertently block creativity, inhibit innovation, discourage excellence and may even contribute to the church’s slow death.

Executive Pastors are generally expected to routinize and systematize, not expected to explore risk, to create or initiate change. In fact, when innovation, change, and unconventional methods comes to our attention our first instinct is to routinize and systematize it.

Excellence is a Deviation From the Norm

You can bet that if you are an excellent performer and an innovative staff member you will come to the attention of the Executive Pastor. Why? If you perform above the accepted norms for the remainder of the staff you disrupt all the control systems we have worked so hard to put in place!

We then set about altering those systems to begin to routinize your efforts so they again fit the organizational norms. It’s a form of external punishment for excellence because you have deviated from the norm.

Understandably, Executive Pastors are called and hired to support the church’s organizational structure and thus are tied to its preservation. Unfortunately, this call to organizational preservation can cause us to deny the need for change and increase our commitment to the status quo.

We are then prone to use our authority to cut off criticism, creativity, risk taking and innovation rather than confront the facts that would suggest that we and the organization need to change.

Both Equilibrium and Change are Necessary

Though most of us Executive Pastors are skilled at creating hierarchal cultures, systems and processes we are unskilled at building organizational cultures that encourage risk taking, innovation and change.

Unintentionally, those much needed skills can at the same time help create organizations that discourage transformation and build structures and systems that encourage equilibrium, not change.

In actuality, both equilibrium and change are critical and necessary aspects of a healthy and growing church. Often the difference between large and small, healthy and unhealthy, growing and dying churches is their ability to design and implement effective systems. The same can be said for their ability to create, innovate and change.

An effective Executive Pastor must not only understand both, but must also understand how to do them simultaneously.


Posted on April 7, 2015

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5