At our upcoming Member Meeting this Wednesday (January 7th), The Bridge will be voting on a candidate for the newly created Bi-vocational position of Executive Pastor. I wanted to take some space on our church’s blog to again cast vision regarding the new position and also take a moment to introduce you to the candidate.
I have never been on staff of a church that had an Executive Pastor and although I had heard of such a thing, I wrote it off as only being necessary in a large, mega-church context. When I began planting The Bridge, I never envisioned us ever having an Executive Pastor, much less it being one of the first positions created. Being on mission with God often changes our original plans and ideas, and that is exactly what has happened. I now see the value of creating an Executive Pastor position and certainly feel that we are taking a major step forward in accomplishing our mission by beginning this process.
In explaining the necessity for this position, I have often referred to the illustration provided in the book, The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. In this book, the authors compare the ministry of a local church to the growth of a climbing vine that one might plant. You certainly cannot grow a healthy plant without giving great attention and care to the vine. It needs nourishment and the planter needs to continually tend to the things the vine needs to be healthy. But the vine will not grow to its fullest potential if a trellis isn’t built along beside it that fosters and supports the growth of the vine.
The same is true for a healthy church. The Bridge must attend to people and their relationship with God. We must be vibrant in our discipleship to grow spiritually and physically. This is the heart of pastoral ministry. The people stuff! This is what gets me going! Seeing lives changed by God and then walking with them on their spiritual journey is what excites me most about what I do. I love it and I think this is why God put me into church planting. But just like a vine, for healthy growth to continue, there needs to be a healthy structure built around the vine to support the growth. It is in this way that a local church can resemble a business. We have to take care of buildings, budgets and programs. We have a myriad of administrative tasks and projects to oversee. All of these things make up the “structure” or “trellis” of The Bridge Church. For us to pursue our mission, these matters need to be tended to just as consistently and effectively as the “vine” things. We need a trellis builder!
That being said…let me address some questions some may have…
Why can’t the Pastor do that?
In a lot of churches…they do. But, I don’t think it’s very effective. A pastor may be really gifted at vine stuff and the church may experience growth for a season but it will never grow higher than the structure built to support it. It will either plateau or crash under its own weight. Some pastors are the opposite, they are very good at the trellis stuff. They can run all of the programs and build an efficiently run organization but if someone is not tending the vine…you just wind up with a big empty trellis. Sometimes, you get guys who are at least somewhat adept at both. Those churches may remain a little healthier for a longer amount of time but, in the end, neither the vine nor the trellis are getting undivided attention. Things may get done…but not well. More times than not, this situation can quickly lead to burnout as the pastor is stretched too thin trying to wear so many different hats. This has been my experience, give or take. I have past experience in business, so the trellis stuff is not foreign to me. I CAN do most of it…but God has placed a passion for the vine into my life. As I said before, tending the vine really gets my blood flowing. Building the trellis on the other hand, is a completely draining experience for me. I simply do most of it because I know it to be important but not because it’s my heart’s passion. I very well could continue to try and wear both hats and The Bridge may survive for a few more years…but then I can almost guarantee you we have already reached our maximum potential. This is as far as we can go and while I am happy to have even gotten this far, I know that God has even more for us as a church. By hiring an Executive Pastor, it will free me up to devote more of my time to the passion that started this whole mess. Tending the vine! There are others who have a greater passion for building the trellis and I should get out of the way and let them take that! The more I let go…the more we grow.
Why not use volunteers? Why do we have to hire someone?
Honestly. To make sure a quality trellis is built. The old “you get what you pay for” idea. Absolutely, in almost every area of the church we have volunteer leaders and I stand amazed at their passion and aptitude for leadership. I do NOT know where we would be today without them. But the fact remains that most of these people have full-time careers and families that need to and should take precedence. We could probably build a decent trellis with volunteers in the church but I don’t think we want a decent trellis…we want an excellent trellis. For that to happen, we need to hire a person with gifting in this area that can spend more time and energy to oversee the work.
Well, then who do we hire?
I’m glad you finally asked this. 😉
Charlie Hurt is one of our current lay elders at The Bridge. Other than my family, Charlie and his wife Tonya have been attached to the vision of The Bridge church longer than anyone else. They were part of our original core launch team and have been faithfully serving in a myriad of capacities within our church to help us accomplish our mission. Charlie has spent a lifetime in leadership, both in the military and in the business world. He is currently set to retire from his current position at Daschco Logistics to follow the call God has placed on his life and bring his passion for trellis building to The Bridge Church. We are thankful for his obedience to God and the leap of faith he is taking to serve His kingdom. I know Charlie well and he has been a friend from day one so I know we will work well together and I wholeheartedly endorse him as our first Executive Pastor!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and allowing me to express our vision for the next steps for The Bridge Church. I serve alongside some of the most amazing people in the world and I can’t imagine doing this with anyone else. Thank you for allowing me to be your pastor! God bless.