CEO-Style Pastorates are Popular, But They Offer Little to Those Seeking Deeper Faith

Most pastors have had administrative responsibilities.

But experts say it has gone well beyond that for ministers who are facing increasing pressure to act more like chief executive officers than pastors.

Congregations concerned about dwindling numbers — both on the rolls and in collection plates — want CEOs more than spiritual mentors.

Karl Vaters called attention to it recently in his Pivot blog for Christianity Today.

Always staying ahead of the curve, dealing with church members’ expectations, managing staff (mostly volunteers) and trying to fund it all are among the pressures against pastors being pastors, Vaters said.

“We’re called to equip the people to be ministers themselves. But somehow the role of pastoring has morphed from equipper to spiritual enabler. And now to spiritual CEO,” he wrote in the March 6 blog.

He isn’t the only one seeing the trend — or concerned by it.

“The CEO model doesn’t work,” said Brett Younger, pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., and former associate professor of preaching at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology.

“It keeps the church from having any spiritual depth and it keeps the minister from having any real depth,” he said.

Pastors also “cease to be ministers of word and sacrament” when those styles of ministry dominate.

While the minster’s role should be about leading others to belief in Christ and into ever-deepening faith, the CEO approach instead puts the focus on the institution. The church itself becomes the focus and purpose of faith, Younger said.

Pastors also should stay out of roles such as social worker or therapist and concentrate primarily on showing others how to pray, read Scripture and to live their faith every day, he said.

But Younger said churches are decreasingly interested in those qualities.

“I’m still a reference for former students, so I have a lot of conversations with church search committees,” he said.

The questions committee members ask are revealing.

“They ask about leadership style and conflict management.”

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Jeff Brumley