“Make corporate propaganda feel like folksy truisms” is how one Ad Director summed up his job. A Lifeguard said that her job consisted of “insuring that stupid people remain in the gene pool.”

How would you summarize the job description of a pastor who is charged with turning a dying church around?

Your answer will tell you whether you “get it” or not with regard to church revitalization.

The Turnaround Pastor’s Job Description

In a previous post I stated that turnaround pastors need job descriptions that free them to lead the church through the long, difficult, and occasionally contentious turnaround process. I wrote,

This is a primary reason why pastors who have invested in leadership training fail to lead church revitalization: the church does not revise his job description to rewrite his responsibilities and the goals for which he’ll be accountable.

In order for you to lead the church turnaround, your job description must empower you to do so. Empowerment requires alignment of five elements:

  1. The responsibility to lead the church into revitalization
  2. The authority needed to fulfill your responsibility
  3. A statement of the duties and behaviors that will lead to turnaround
  4. Accountability to the values and policies that set the parameters within which you operate
  5. Clear indication of how your job performance will be evaluated

A carefully crafted job description provides several important benefits to you and the church:

  • You are freed to lead without having to constantly seek permission
  • The church is reassured that you will be held accountable for the church’s values and governing policies

With this in mind, your job description needs to be written in a way that includes the following items.

1. Turnaround Pastors’ Are Directly Responsible for Church Revitalization

You’ll need to ruthlessly evaluate your current responsibilities. Some will have to be eliminated to free up your time for duties that are directly correlated to church turnaround. For example, your duties might include:

  1. You will lead the church in pursuit of its mission and vision.
  2. You will lead the identification of the church’s community for outreach.
  3. You will lead the development and implementation of strategy.
  4. You will develop and deploy a spiritual formation process that produces mature Christians who participate in the mission of the church.
  5. You will align the church’s activities, programs, and ministries with the mission and vision.
  6. You will train, supervise, evaluate and (when necessary) discipline or re-direct all staff (paid and unpaid) to insure that their work is aligned with the mission and vision.
  7. You will provide regular reports to the governing body to keep it apprised of the ministry

2. Turnaround Pastors Have the Authority to Lead

You need to be sure that the you also have the authority you need to do the job. The description must set the pastor  free to operate within policy and values parameters, and eliminate the need to seek permission to lead. This job description might include the following:

  1. You answer to the board only when it acts corporately as the board.
  2. As the designated leader, you have authority over individual board members except when they act corporately as the board:i. You may confront a board member over spiritual issues.
    ii. Board members will follow your leadership when serving in a church-related ministry.
    iii. You may not tell a board member how to decide an issue that the board is addressing corporately.
    iv. You are an equal with all board members when the board meets to conduct church business.
  3. You are accountable only to the board when it meets as the board:

    i. You do not answer to the board chairperson or any other board member (as an individual).
    ii. You do not answer to any committee or ministry.
    iii. You do not answer to any person or group in the congregation.

3. Turnaround Pastors Are Held Accountable

The board will monitor and evaluate your ministry. You will submit an annual self-evaluation to the board, which will include your ministry goals for the coming year. The board’s evaluation of your ministry performance will include an evaluation of your achievement of your ministry goals, with special consideration given to those goals that contribute to church revitalization.


a. LEAD measures: You will insure that all staff, ministry directors, program coordinators, and event planners to insure that their goals and activities are focused on making regular, incremental progress toward fulfilling the mission and vision of the church. They will submit to you their goals (monthly and annual), which you may approve or revise.

b. LAG measures: You are directly responsible for the achievement of the church’s lag measures – established by you and approved by the Board.

c. Ministry Alignment: You are directly accountable for insuring that all staff, ministries, programs, events, and activities contribute directly to achieving the mission and vision. You will monitor their job performance monthly, and evaluate them annually; their evaluation will depend on the degree to which they achieved their lead measure goals.


What’s the single most important change in your job description that would set you free to lead your church through renewal?

Need Help?

If you’re a pastor or church leadership member in need of help, please contact us. We’d love to discuss your situation and see whether we can help.


  • Steve Cohen and Richard Biery, Ministry Mess Management: Solving Leadership Failures.
  • John Kaiser, Winning on Purpose: How to Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission.
  • Aubrey Malphurs, Leading Leaders: Empowering Church Boards for Excellence.