Interim Executive Administrator

When a pastor leaves a mid-size or larger church, the pastor vacates three critical roles (and a myriad of smaller ones): the primary preacher, the chief of staff, and the staff person who coordinates the decision-making bodies of the church. Below is a description of the reality and non-traditional solution for churches whose pastors leave.


  • A mid-size to larger church will have 18-24 months without a senior pastor before the next one comes
  • The current staff needs to remain focused on their primary areas using their skill sets without the distraction of meetings outside their respective competencies
  • The church will experience a vacuum of someone who can coordinate and administer the church governance and personnel due to the absence of a senior pastor


  • The church hires an Executive Administrator (the title is flexible) whose focuses on
    • Working with decision-making teams
      • Church business meetings
      • Coordinating Council
      • Personnel and Finance Teams
      • Pastor Search Team
      • Other teams as necessary
  • Communicating, coordinating with, and leading campus staff members
  • Assisting, as needed, with Pulpit Supply Committee to find speakers
    • The traditional model is to find someone who will speak every Sunday during the interim
    • Alternative solution – to get speakers for three months at a time. That lets the church see a variety of styles and people. It also prevents the church from “falling in love” with their interim and asking him or her to be the permanent pastor.
    • The role of the Executive Administrator is to help the church resolve any lingering baggage from the previous pastor and help the church leadership set the stage for the next pastor. The goal is to set up the next pastor for success.
    • The church must have a point person who, “in the meantime” can make or at least suggest tough decisions. Otherwise, the current staff will be inundated with requests for which they are unprepared.
    • This person must have experience in working with large churches, multiple decision-making teams/committees, and finance and personnel management. Business experience is valuable but non-profits use the legislative process more than executive directives (source: Jim Collins).
    • This person will not be a Sunday pulpit person since those roles should be filled by interim preachers and existing staff. This person will work with decision-making groups. Together they will keep the church informed regularly and invite church members to provide their input and attend meetings as they wish.


  • The last verse of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
  • The church does not need a king, but it does someone to lead the staff and who can work with the church leadership so that the church and staff work together to achieve goals together instead of each person doing what they want to do.
  • The departure of a pastor puts the church at its own crossroads – there are multiple paths from which to proceed, even backwards. The church needs someone with knowledge of churches and their inner workings but who can also help the church leadership determine what is needed in their context to help the next pastor and the church grow for the next generation.

Lead On!