Welcome back to Monday morning church. Today’s guest is Dan Beckwith of Shiloh church with two locations in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Dan great to have you today.
Dan, you’ve got 18 years of experience in the media and administrative side of church ministry, and you’ve also served for a bit of that time as a campus minister. Would you go back and give us a little more detail into your journey to becoming an executive pastor?
Sure. Without going back too far, I started like most pastors with the calling to ministry, and always felt though, that the senior pastor role was not really a good fit for me. And so, as I got into seminary, I got connected into some large churches. The first was First Baptist of Dallas in Dallas, Texas. And I started working in there in the media department, and was able to just connect with my ministry calling and also my love of media, and it just ended up being a perfect fit. When I came to Jacksonville now, just seven and a half years ago, I came as a media director. And in my time as the media director and just being able to work with the team, I realized pretty quickly that I could do more. So when our pastor was looking to add the executive pastor role to our team, I asked him if that’s something that I could do. And so about five years ago, I began as the executive pastor here at Shiloh church. And then in 2015, when we launched our second location, I actually went as the campus pastor and served two years as the campus pastor, before returning back downtown as the executive pastor here.
So, how does it feel now returning to the executive pastor role?
The campus pastor role for us in Shiloh was very similar to an executive pastor. Pastor Charles is our preaching teaching pastor, and so his main responsibility is covering all the preaching services. So a lot of what I was doing as an executive pastor downtown, I was doing similar things as a campus pastor. Just leading the staff, helping coordinate with ministries and events… But I enjoy being the executive pastor, so coming back downtown, I’ve enjoyed that transition. My only pause would be that I just don’t have as much interaction with the people as I did as a campus pastor. And so that might be something I would miss.
That seems to be a common thread that people touch on for executive pastors is making sure they still get those touch points with people.
Now, I would say something. When I went to Orange Park, our second location, as the campus pastor, it’s something I had to learn. To be honest, it probably wasn’t my strength. As a media guy I spent all my time behind the scenes kind of orchestrating events from behind closed doors. And so when I went as the campus pastor, it was necessary for me to be up front, it was necessary for me to be a part of leading in worship. It was necessary for me to be the first point of contact for our ministry leaders. And so I feel like it’s something I had to learn and I feel greatly rewarded by having to learn that. But now coming back downtown, I’m still working on ways of trying to keep that up as a part of my ministry.
How is Shiloh church structured and what are your Monday through Friday responsibilities?
Shiloh church is structured, for the most part, pastor Charles gives leadership to the entire church, and I predominantly lead the staff. So my role as executive pastor in the simplest of terms, is to lead the staff to be on mission in vision. And so in that, I am leading staff meetings, working with the staff, I have several direct reports under me that are over different areas of ministry here at Shiloh. And so my day to day is generally coordinating all of that. Coordinating, working with the team, working with staff issues, working to make sure that we’re on task and completing mission envision and moving forward as a team.
As your role is to lead the staff to stay on mission envision. How do you keep yourself on mission envision?
I would say the easiest answer to that is just, I believe in the mission envision. Here at Shiloh, our mission is to make more and better disciples. It comes out of Matthew 28:18-20 out of the great commission, and we really believe as a church that that is our calling. And so as the executive pastor, I firmly believe that that is what the church should be doing. So for me, that is just the strongest drive for me to make sure that we are living that up in our day to day work here.
Now, as you lead the staff and you’ve got a pretty large staff, as well as multiple locations, what are some of the administrative challenges you face?
I would say, any time you have an organization with more than a couple of people in it, communication becomes huge. It’s so easy for information to slip through the cracks. I may be trying to communicate the information from the senior pastor and trying to communicate that to the team, the staff and to the volunteers. But then, there’s so many areas. There may be a ministry that is working on one thing and trying to facilitate an event, and it’s just the challenge of communicating what needs to be communicated to the whole team and trying to allow each of these ministries and areas to take ownership of their specific responsibilities. So I would say communication is probably one of the biggest challenges.
What are some of the processes, or technology, or maybe regular meeting times that you’ve put into place to try to counteract some of those communication challenges?
I’ll start here. I don’t think we’ve got it figured out yet. One of the things that we’ve done, we regularly use church management software. We use CCB, church community builder. It works for us, but it’s, I would say the challenge is just trying to keep everybody trained and up to date, and fully utilizing the system as it’s intended to be used. I would say probably the most effective thing for us has been… We do a Monday morning check in. We do just a… Monday morning, 10 o’clock, we come together for prayer as a staff, and we just spend a few minutes talking about our wins for the weekend, our achievements, and our goals for the week. And it’s no more than a 15-20 minutes meeting, but it has really helped our staff just stay focused and stay on task. And I feel like it helps with our unity as a whole.
I would like to hear more about this meeting, because we know regular meetings are helpful, but 15 to 20 minutes is pretty impressive. How do you structure those meetings to stay within that certain amount of time, but still get out of it what you need to get out of it?
I would say that for us, we know that this meeting is not to catch all. So we have a regular staff meeting monthly, and then every other week we have meetings with different department heads. So we know that this 15-20 minutes on Monday is not gonna answer everybody’s questions. We really focus on just really wanting to celebrate the wins so that everybody can kind of see a glimpse into other people’s areas. So for instance, we might have, the youth ministry might have done an event over the weekend, and two or three youths may have gotten saved in that event. And this is something we want the whole team to know about and to celebrate. But it’s not one of those times that we’re gonna take time and talk about the logistics of the event or the… Whether or not it achieved all of its other goals. So we really focus, we spend a few minutes in scripture reading, we spend a few minutes talking through the wins of the weekend, and spend a few minutes looking ahead, and then we spend the remainder of our time just praying together.
Switching gears here a little. The executive pastor role is often described as leading from the second chair, and people often touch on their relationship with the senior pastor. How do you cultivate a strong relationship between you and your senior pastor?
I would begin by saying that it is a challenge. It is… I feel like, as an executive pastors, and probably most executive pastors are leaders. We want to lead, we want to get things done, we want to make progress, we want to solve problems. And working from the second chair is extremely challenging and extremely rewarding. I would say, again, communication is the biggest part of that relationship. Just for me and my senior pastor to be able to communicate well, and communicate directly, and I would say communicate honestly. Especially, there are things that are… I’ll use finances for example. Most executive pastors give some oversight to finances, but being able to clearly communicate that to our pastors and to be able to clearly communicate it in a way that not just that they can understand, but they can know the importance of what you’re trying to communicate. So I would say for me specifically, this is something that I regularly struggle with. Just being able to communicate clearly, and also being able to understand and meet the needs of my senior pastor.
That’s great. I really appreciate your honesty in all of that. Dan, what are some of your favorite resources and networks for learning to be a great executive pastor?
Well, I would say Maxwell, and a lot of his writing, especially “360 degrees leader”, has been just my favorite resource when it comes to talking about leadership and especially leading from the second chair. In addition to that, I follow several websites, Xpastor, executive pastor, and follow those blogs and those resources. And I suppose, like everybody else out there, I get about a 100 emails a week, that have information from just about everywhere. And I would say, one thing that I’ve learned is that you have to be reading. This is not one of those jobs where you can just rest on the fact that you know what you need to know. I feel like I need to always be learning, always be reading, always be exploring what’s new out there.
That’s great. So I’d like to end on what encouragement would you give to other executive pastors?
I feel like this is a tough one. I would say the biggest challenge with being an executive pastor
is, most of your work is carried on from behind the scenes. And I would say the biggest encouragement is that that’s enough. We need to, as executive pastors know that our work is important, know that our work is needed, but know that it’s always going to remain in the shadows.
That’s great. Dan, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
No. It was my pleasure. I hope I was helpful.
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