3 Attributes of a Great XP

Guest Post: Chad Hunt

Earlier this year I made the transition from lead pastor to executive pastor. This transition gave me more flexibility to work as a ministry consultant with The Unstuck Group, who help churches get unstuck through strategic planning and coaching.


After being the lead guy for nearly seventeen years, being the #2 guy was a breath of fresh air. While I enjoy teaching and preaching on the weekends, my true passion is coaching pastors and leaders to help churches grow.

As an XP, I have several responsibilities that pertain to the daily operations of the church. However, my most important tasks surround the lead pastor and staff.  When health and vitality surround the visionary and his or her team, vision execution happens well. Here’s three attributes that should be visible in an executive pastor:

Encourage: No one knows the pain that comes with being the lead guy (unless you’ve been one). While a stage and microphone may look appealing to some, it also comes with a price. Leading people can be both a burden and a blessing. Low attendance, disgruntled families leaving the church or financial strain are just a few things that can bring frustration and anxiety to a pastor. I remember countless Sundays, driving home feeling discouraged and ready to quit. Actually, all pastors feel this way at different times, they just don’t share it. A heartening email, text message or a phone call goes a long way, as does a listening ear.

Equip: A lead pastor is only as effective as their team. Equipping the team is a vital role for an executive pastor. Creating a place for team development expands the opportunities to dream and achieve bigger vision. There are many ways to provide growth opportunities for your team. For example, have your team read different leadership books throughout the year. Afterwards, (as a group) ask three questions:

  • What are your three takeaways from the reading?
  • How can you apply the takeaways to yourself?
  • How can you apply the takeaways to the church and/or your position?

While this may seem elementary, consistent equipping of your team is vital to the success of your mission.

Empower: Lastly, as an executive pastor, I want to bring empowerment to my pastor and team through a healthy environment of accountability and rhythm. This means I must be willing to ask the right questions (and sometimes the hard questions). It also means I must be intentional about helping the team find (and keep) a rhythm for work, play and rest. Working hard, playing hard and finding rest is critical to team health and performance.

Chad served as a lead pastor for over sixteen years. Chad is now a ministry consultant with the Unstuck Group and serves as the executive pastor at Eagle Heights Church in Somerset, KY. He leads strategic planning sessions and coaching networks for rural pastors at the Center of Rural Church Advancement at the Nebraska Christian College in Omaha.

Replacing our Buts

“This was their report to Moses: ‘We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. BUT the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!’” Numbers 13:27-28


God had just rescued the children of Israel from the hand of the Egyptians, and now He was getting ready to bring them into the land that He had promised them long ago. Only one thing stood in their way…a big BUT.

That one BUT would keep everyone of them, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, from receiving what God had promised.

I wonder how many promises we miss out on because of that same word.

I need to read my Bible, BUT I’m too tired.

I want to get healthy, BUT I lack self-control.

I want to stop yelling at my kids, BUT they’re so frustrating.

I want my church to grow, BUT they don’t want to change.

If we are going to be followers of Jesus, we have to start putting our faith into action. That starts with replacing our BUTS with another BUT found in the book of Ephesians.

BUT GOD is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” Ephesians 2:4-5

Here’s what that looks like:

I may be tired, BUT GOD is so rich in mercy and He loves me so much, I’m going to read my Bible anyway.

I may lack self-control, BUT GOD is so rich in mercy and He loves me so much, I’m going to get healthy.

My kids may frustrate me, BUT GOD is so rich in mercy and He loves me so much, I’m going to love my kids the same.

The people in my church may not want change, BUT GOD is so rich in mercy and He loves people so much, I’m going to do whatever it takes to reach them.

Don’t let your BUT keep you from the promises of God.

What BUTS have you been placing on and in your life? What promises have you missed out on because of it? Let us know in the comments below, and if you haven’t already make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered straight to your inbox.

Timing is Everything in Small Groups

I have a love/hate relationship with small groups. I love the community that comes from them, but I’m constantly frustrated on how hard it is to get people to show up. You can read more about my frustrations here, here, and here. But today’s post isn’t about venting my frustrations. It’s about timing, and when it comes to small groups, timing is everything.


Last Fall I did a small group based around Andy Stanley’s sermon series “Staying in Love.” My wife and I love talking about marriage with other couples, and we’ve always had success getting people to show up. This group was no different. In fact, this group had so many couples sign up that we had to divide it into two different groups. It was a huge success.

Now, fast-forward a few months to this Spring, the month of May to be exact. My church launched a church-wide campaign around a series titled “From This Day Forward.” It was a five-week marriage series very similar to the group we had done in the Fall. My wife and I once again decided to host a group, only this time the results were much different. In fact no one showed up. Ok, one couple showed up one week, but that was it.

What happened? Did we suddenly lose all of our friends? Had people grown tired of talking about marriage? Were the snacks we offered not up to par with other groups? Possibly…but I think the more likely answer was bad timing.

Certain times are better for small groups than others. So, here are a few things you need to think about before scheduling your group.

  1. Time of the Year

Certain times of the year are busier than others. Plan on doing a group in December? Forget about it. Trying one over the summer? Good luck. I’ve found the best time of year for most people happens January to March and September to November. That just seems to be the sweet spot for small groups.

  1. Day of the Week

Weekends are generally off limits when it comes to group participation. People like their days off and try to keep them. The exception may be Sunday evenings. Some people who may have a history of going to church on Sunday evenings will be more likely to attend a group at that time, unless it’s football season, of course. Wednesday night is another good option. The other days of the week seem to be hit and miss depending on people’s schedules.

  1. Time of the Day

The biggest mistake I made with my group in May is scheduling it for Sunday afternoons right after service. I thought it made perfect sense. Why not eat lunch and talk about the message right after you’ve heard it? The problem is families do not like giving up their Sunday afternoons. When it comes to the time of day, evenings almost always work best.

When it comes to small groups, I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers. In fact I have very few answers. These are a few suggestions I would give to those starting out, but remember results may vary.

When have you found is the best time to launch groups? Let us know in the comments below, and if you haven’t already make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered straight to your inbox.