Guide to Personal and Church-Wide Days of Prayer and Fasting

By Pastor Reg Overstreet, March 16, 2023

Purpose: In our 18 Goals for 2023, Goal #4 is: to Observe quarterly personal DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING and one annual Church-Wide DOPF on campus. This is our provided guide for your experience!

Our First of the year will correspond with EASTER!

Dear Church Family,

We will be identifying four weeks during 2023 for our people to choose one day to devote to prayer and fasting. Our first is next week, between March 19 and March 26–the day of our Easter-Season Concert of Prayer. Then, towards the end of 2023, we will hold our 2nd annual all-church Day of Prayer and Fasting at our campus (date TBD).

Why this focus? Biblically, prayer is fundamental to a relationship with God, while adding fasting to our prayers creates one of the most powerful of all Christian activities. These are God-prescribed methods of dealing with urgent needs, asking for breakthroughs, growing our faith, seeing God work.

In this post you will find a guide for the principles, purposes, and practices of fasting, to help your households experience God and unite with the church family in Christ. I gathered this material from other churches and my own personal notes and believe that it will serve us well.

Thank you for participating, brothers and sisters, for God’s glory and our good,

Pastor Reg

I. Principles of Fasting:

The presence and mystery of fasting runs throughout the Bible.

Definition: Voluntarily going without food (or other focus items) in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God.

Drinking of water is recommended; especially, with prolonged days of fasting. One can live without food for weeks, but only three-four days without water.

Forms of Fasting:

1.) Regular Fast: Abstaining from all food. Illustrated by Jesus following His baptism – Matthew 4:2

3.) Partial Fast: Abstaining from certain foods as illustrated by Daniel – Dan. 10:3; 1:12

3.) Absolute Fast: Completely abstaining from eating & drinking. Employed by Ezra as he mourned over the faithlessness of the people of Israel in Exile – Ezra 10:6 and in Acts 9:9, Saul (Paul) neither ate nor drank for three days after the incident on the road to Damascus.

4. Non-food and other helpful Fasts – E.g. 1 month Media fast, or fasting/abstaining from something that has become an idol in your life. One young man said earlier this year that was sports for him in that season, and he fasted from them for a time.

Length of Fasting: 

Varies in length as the Spirit of God lays in your heart. However, below are some time frames found in the Bible: 1.) One day – Judges 20:26, I Samuel 14:24, 2Corinthians 11:27; 2.) Three days – Esther 4:16-17, Acts 9:9; 3.) Seven days – I Sam. 31: 11-13; 2Sam. 12:16-18; 4.) Twenty-one days – Daniel 9; 5.) Forty days – Exodus 34:28; I Kings19:18; Matt. 4:8.

II. Purposes of Fasting

  1. To Strengthen Prayer: John Calvin wrote, “Whenever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer.” Frequently in Scripture, fasting has been used by God’s people when there is a special urgency about the concerns they are praying about.
  2. Purity: Fasting starves the flesh so that our spirit can be nourished. It facilitates the breaking of the bondage of sin in our lives – Isaiah 58:6; I Cor. 9:27; Matt. 16:24
  3. Repentance and Revival: Fasting brings an awakening of our spirit. It gives renewed and constant awareness of God’s presence – Isaiah 58:9, Daniel 9:1-3, Jonah 3:5-10
  4. To seek God’s guidance and spiritual sensitivity: Fasting facilitates fellowship and intimacy with God, which in turn quickens your senses to God’s guidance – Isaiah 58:8,10-12; 40:29-31
  5. To Express Grief; Humility/Brokenness: Fasting brings you to a place of humility, where you see yourself as worthy of nothing; a place where you absolutely need God in your life – Isaiah 58:5
  6. To Seek Deliverance, Protection, or Power; To Overcome Temptation: During fasting, you experience fresh power to overcome unseen forces militating against you – Isaiah 58:6, Luke 4:14a, Matthew 17:14-21, 2 Chronicles 20:1-30
  7. Healing: According to Paavo Ariola (Health expert), “Fasting is the oldest therapeutic method known to man, even before the advent of the medicine man and in the healing arts, man instinctively stopped eating when feeling ill and abstains from food until his health was restored.” Fasting is the body’s most natural way of getting rid of harmful toxins and causes the mind to think clearly. – Isaiah 58:11b&c
  8. To Minister to the Needs of Others: In Isaiah 58:1-12, the most extensive passage in Scripture dealing exclusively with fasting, God expresses that the kind of fasting that pleases Him is one that shows concern for others, not just for ourselves.
  9. To Express Love and Worship to God: The prior reasons have mostly dealt with extreme circumstances.  The Bible also expresses fasting can show our love and worship to God. In Luke 2, Anna, assuming she was young when she was married, had lived a life of worship to God which, for over 50 years was characterized by  “worshiping day and night, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:37)

III. Practices of Fasting

1. Set Your Objective: Identify your timeframe, parameters, and your aim/objective for the fast – E.g., victory, healing, wisdom, grace to handle a difficult situation, revival, others’ salvation, etc.

2. Make a commitment: Pray that God will help you a.) Limit/restrict certain physical and social activities b.) Identify how much time you will devote to prayer and Word of God.

3. Prepare yourself spiritually: The primary foundation of fasting is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers.

4. Prepare yourself physically: Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician if you are on prescribed medication or dealing with chronic illness. A few pointers include:

  • a.) Do not rush into your fast.
  • b.) Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat or high-sugar foods.
  • c.) Eat raw vegetable and fruits for two days before engaging in a long fast.
  • d.) Limit your physical & mental activity as much as possible.
  • e.) Avoid medications. Please consult your physician if you’re on prescribed medication.
  • f.) Exercise moderately and rest your body as much as you can.
  • g.) Prepare yourself for the body’s natural reaction to the new restrictions – e.g. crankiness, irritability, hunger pains, dizziness and even headaches, which may be the result of sugar and caffeine withdrawal.
  • h.) Groom yourself well. Only God should know that you’re fasting.

5. Put yourself on a schedule and be disciplined to follow the schedule (Avoid television & social media or other distractions that will dampen your spiritual focus): Set aside ample time with God during your fast. The more you spend time alone with Him, the more you will hear Him speak.


  • Begin your day in Praise & Worship
  • Read and meditate on God’s Word
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to you during the fast


  • Get back to GOD in prayer and God’s Word
  • Take a short prayer walk


  • Spend some unhurried alone time in the presence of the Lord just seeking Him
  • If others are fasting with you, meet together for prayers.
  • Expect great things!

IV. Prayer Points while Fasting

(Many more will be provided during the on Campus Annual Day of Prayer and Fasting later this year)

1. Worship the Lord for who He is- Psa. 96:9; I Chron. 29:11-14 and thank God for being our help in ages past – Psa. 90:1

2. Thank God for His good hand upon Community Grace; Worship the Lord for who He is and what He is doing in our lives – Neh. 2:8

3. Holy Father, give us the strength we need to embark on this fast – Isaiah 40:29. Father remove from us every distraction that the enemy of our soul will stage against us or our family during this fast – I Peter 5:8-9

4. Father, remove from us every negative behavior and attitude, unforgiveness, guilt, sin, or iniquity that will hinder us from experiencing the fulfillment you have for us.

5. FATHER, create in us a deeper desire for more intimate relationship with you in the HOLY SPIRIT, such we are consistently being transformed to be like CHRIST in character and experience.

6. Protect us from the princes and principalities of the air; remove their grip on this neighborhood in the name of Jesus.

7. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest during this year – Matthew 9:35-38.

8. Pray for all church leadership. (Eph. 6:18-20)

9. Father, as many as fellowship in this church and are not born again, meet them this year & permanently change their story in Jesus’ name – Acts 9:1-18

10. Pray for all the church projects during this year and in years to come.

11. Father, from the North, South, East, West, and from Heaven above, send financial help to CG’s vision, needs, and opportunities for ministry and meeting needs.

12. Pray for unity and maturity throughout the Body – Eph. 4:11-17

13. Pray that the Lord will give us a passion for the lost.

14. Pray for the neighborhoods among which the church campus is located – our loving influence and for the blinders of eyes be removed for faith and salvation.

15. Pray for all cross-cultural mission and ministry that we will ever do, and for God’s leading of everyone for their parts in it.

16. Profoundly thank God for all answer to prayers.


Once again, choose your type of fast and prayer and fasting day, between March 19-26, 2023. Save or print this blog post as a guide or grab a hard copy in church on Sunday at Connections. Search the Scriptures listed throughout.

For me, I have a love/hate relationship with fasting. I hate the discomfort (of course!), but I love how close I am to God by the end of fasting and how clearly I hear His voice. We have experienced some of our best family devotions on these days as well.

May God bless you richly in this God-given spiritual discipline.

(And share a story from your experience to spread the blessing!)

Pastor Reg

Communion in Small Groups – More than a Good Idea

(I wrote this article 12 years ago as a small groups pastor. As a lead pastor now, I believe it more than ever.)

The Bible says very little about how we are actually to go about observing communion, yet most Christians have strong preferences, if not convictions, about how to do it.  I want to expand your thinking in one area — observing communion regularly in your small group. As we will see, this is more than just a good idea.

No Wafers and Juice Cups in the Bible

Most of us (assuming an audience which holds the “symbolic” view of communion) have observed communion primarily in corporate gatherings, with a short message and Bible reading from the pastor, followed by a collective ingesting of a wafer and a small plastic cup of grape juice. Let me say, I have no problem with the wafer and grape juice! Observing communion in this way has been a major part of my life’s spiritual formation. But I propose that small group members should observe communion together at least once per semester/term.

Here’s why:

At CG, we view small groups as not just another ministry or Bible study, but as the “church scattered,” in homes, throughout our community, engaging in directives of church which are not possible in a corporate setting: knowing, serving, loving, taking care of each other; digging in and applying Scriptures together; obeying the Great Commission together; having things in common; bearing each others’ burdens; and “being devoted to the breaking of bread and prayer”  (Acts 2:42-47).

Communion in the Bible most always centered around a meal, and, outside of a Brethren Threefold Communion Service, small groups allow a better opportunity for that than anything else in the church.  At the Last Supper, Jesus effectively changed the Passover Meal into Christian Communion, and He strategically placed the observance of bread and wine within the course of this meal.  (Read more about that here.)

Is it wrong, then, for us to observe communion without a meal? Well, no. One of Christianity’s unique characteristics is the freedom Scripture gives regarding church polity and practices; freedoms which enable Christian churches to thrive and transform culture anywhere, at any time, on the planet. Additionally, in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul does allude to the bread and cup without a meal (10:16-17) and in chapter 11 even tells them to STOP the meal because they were abusing it! So, the meal is not required, nor should it replace the Lord’s Supper as the focus of our gathering.

But, would it be appropriate; constructive; healthy for us to observe communion more as the New Testament Church did – as part of a relational, worshipful meal together? That is the more important question. And I believe the answer is a most definite YES!

Guidelines for Leading Your Small Group in Communion

1.  Do not be intimidated by this! You are already viewed as a “shepherd leader,” and this is one of the most significant and joyous acts Jesus gave us to do together.

2.  Spend some time in the communion passages (John 13; Matt. 26:17-30; Luke 22:14-20; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 10:15-22; 11:17-34, and many others if you want to study the significance of the Passover, its link to Jesus’ sacrifice and blood, and the biblical rules for it.)

3. Use other resources from books, websites, etc. There are tons of good resources out there. I will give you three of mine:

First, as a kind of template for you, here on a Word document is the communion manuscript from a past sermon on Philippians 3:13-14 for Eucharist (bread and cup) observance only – Communion Manuscript from sermon – What to Remember, What to Forget

Second, for a Threefold Communion experience, read and follow this short chapter below from Todd Scoles’ book, Restoring the Household.

Third, from the engaging little book, Going to Church in the First Century, which I have given to all of our small group leaders, below is a copy of the pages which I have used to lead my own group in communion.

After explaining the premise of this book – the observations of a young man on his first visit to a house church – I passed around the elements and read the following pages, followed by the 1 Corinthians 11 verses. We then “ate” and “drank” in celebration of the gospel as part of our meal together. It was a fun and worshipful experience.  If this appeals to you, I encourage you to try it at your group’s next meal together!


            Before we began to eat, however, Aquila took up a cob of bread which his wife had laid on the table before him, and said he would like to give thanks. Instead of offering part of the bread to their god, Aquila reminded the people present that their god had offered something for them instead. His only son, no less, who died that they might live.

            ‘Just before he sacrificed himself for us,’ he went on to say, ‘he took part in a meal with his followers just like the one we’re having now. During this meal he shared around bread and told them that it represented him. Just as they needed bread in order to live physically, so, even more, they needed him if they were to experience real life. And so do we. This is why he wants us to continue having meals together and this is why we are meeting together today.’

            Just how a dead person was going to do all this wasn’t at all clear to me. But then Aquila went on to say that after this person was executed, he’d actually come to life again. I could hardly believe my ears, I can tell you, but that’s exactly what he said! He’d gone to his father after death and this put him in a position where he could share his life with anyone who followed him, wherever they were and no matter how many there were of them. A bit of him living in each of them, so to speak, or at least that’s how I understood it.

            ‘This means,’ continued Aquila, ‘that although he isn’t physically with us in the room, he is nevertheless really present among us. As we eat the meal together, beginning with this bread’ (which he was now breaking into substantial portions and passing among the guests) ‘we’ll experience him directly within ourselves, as well as through our fellowship with one another as we eat.’

            He concluded all this with a brief prayer, if you could call it that. For it was made up on the spot so far as I could tell, and spoken in quite a normal voice. In it he thanked his god for all this and told him how much we looked forward to the meal and everything that went with it. Then he sat down to a chorus of ‘yes’, ‘indeed’, ‘amen’ and the like and began to eat.


            At this point we were interrupted by Lysias who, at Aquila’s signal, had begun to refill the cups at our table. Felix was doing the same at the other. Aquila then took his cup in both hands and said:

            ‘The wine that we’ve been drinking has been part of our meal and a help to our fellowship in the Lord. But it means more than this. For, as Jesus explained, it reminds us that he is the one who has created this bond through his death. It also stands as a promise to us of the fellowship we shall have one day with him when we sit down at his table and dine with him face to face. So as we drink this cup together, let us take these things to heart and be grateful for them, looking back with appreciation on the one and looking forward with anticipation to the other. And may our meetings express that oneness that we have with him more and more so that they are, as it were, a little taste of heaven on earth.’

            In this spirit we all drank. 


However the Holy Spirit directs you, I pray that observing the Lord’s Supper with your small group will become a pivotal moment in your life together — one that you will repeat regularly, in remembrance of Jesus.

For His glory and our joy,

Pastor Reg

Personal Goals and Stewardship (Vision 2023, Part 2)

Last week was 2023 Church Vision and Goals, and yesterday was Vision 2023 Part 2 – Personal Goals and Stewardship. Here is the extremely helpful & insightful tool I promised to share: All of our elders’ personal 2023 goals and some of our staff’s personal goals for 2023:

I hope these will inspire confidence in our church leadership and help you prayerfully fill out your personal 2023 goals 2023 worksheet on the back of the sermon notes doc, here:

Now for a brief recap of yesterday’s highlights in case you missed the service or want to review.

A Goal is “the object of a person’s ambition; an aim or desired result.” Goals help put vision into action, to think through your plan how to be the person Jesus wants you to be and that you want to be.

You can’t drift through life. You can’t let others run your life. You can’t stay the way you are, because God’s mission and vision for you is to grow. 

To start your new year “All-In for Jesus,” today we’re going to do what God says–to Deal with our Past, and then Direct our Future.

I.      Deal with Your Past

Open to our first key text, Philippians 3:13-15.

Philippians 3:13-15 – Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 – I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

Forgetting what lies behind means letting go of the past!

Every Christian needs to be good at letting go of the past. You have to let go of things in the past to pick up what God has for you now.

II.    Direct Your Future

As the Apostle Paul says, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

14 – I press on toward the GOAL for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.   

Why Goals?  

1. Because God created us in his own image (Isaiah 40:26; Luke 13:32)

2. Because WE are encouraged to plan and set goals. (Isaiah 32:8)

3. Because goals help us grow. (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

What Goals?

“SMART” Goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound

FIVE Categories – Click the document above for Your Personal 2023 Goal-Setting Worksheet (on p. 2 – the back of the sermon notes)

Financial/Stewardship Goals

Luke 16:11 – “Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?”

To experience financial peace, I must adopt God’s priorities

What are those? Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 6:33–34 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious (there’s that peace!) about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.    

The 70% principle of lasting wealth… (Financial Peace University)

•      The 1st 10% goes to God.

Malachi 3:10 – Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Take the Four-Month Tithe Challenge

•      The 2nd 10% goes to debt & emergency fund

•      The 3rd 10% goes to savings & investing

The “70% Principle” or the “Tithe Challenge” are great ideas for your 2023 Personal Goals sheet (provided above). The key to all of this is learning to live on the 70%. In case you are thinking to yourself, I don’t know how to do that. I don’t think I can do that.. That’s where Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) comes in. Having completed it twice with my wife Sarah, it has changed our family outlook. I strongly encourage you to as well.

Click here for promotional video.

Click here for class information at Community Grace.

Making plans and setting goals for a great 2023 with you!

Pastor Reg

P.S. Watch for my next post on several musts for financial planning for the future.

CG’s 2023 Vision and Goals

Sunday, January 8, began a two-part vision series, “All-In for Jesus,” with part 1 – Church Vision and Goals. This post contains our official 2023 Church Goals document and other highlights. Next week’s focus will be on Personal Goals and Stewardship.

At the end of the Momentum Youth Conference last year, one of the speakers challenged the 2000 teenagers in attendance to “be All-In for Jesus because He went all-in for you.” That guiding truth is for ALL of us.

A mission statement explains why something exists. When a group of soldiers goes on a mission it is defined – “THIS is what we must accomplish.” Jesus said that our mission is to “go and make disciples.”

Community Grace’s Mission Statement is: We exist to glorify God by being Christ followers.

Vision is about where we believe God is leading us as a church. It’s about how we will accomplish the mission together and what it will look like when we do.

Community Grace’s Vision is reflected in three statements. As we accomplish our mission, it will look like this: WORSHIP THE KING • MATURE AS FAMILY • ENGAGE THE WORLD.  

Click here for a PDF of our 2023 Goals!

I.  How Will We Worship the King?

Worship Defined

“At Community Grace, we define worship as the active response of a Christ-follower to who God is and what He does. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Worship is accomplished in the life of a believer when submitting one’s whole self to God ​(Romans 12:1-2)​. To worship God is the reason humans exist (Romans 11:36).”

II.    How Will We Mature as Family?

Shawn Mason, who has served as our Youth Director for 8 years, preached this point of the sermon. In it he challenged everyone to take their God-given ownership as a spiritual parent or grandparent and for some, as a biological or adoptive parent/grandparent. In a church family, these go hand-in-hand.

Shawn casted the vision for becoming a better “Family Equipping Church,” as it is parents who are a child’s first and best disciplers and who are assisted by the church family for this great task.

Shawn then presented the fulfillment of one of our 2022 goals – the development and launch of our “Legacy Path” for family discipleship.

We also reminded the church in this message that after almost two years of intentional development and preparation, Shawn will be presented by the elders in our January 22 annual meeting for a congregational vote to become our new “Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries.”

Ahead of this vote and Shawn’s potential transition into this role, I wanted to provide the congregation with a few helpful insights into Shawn’s development and readiness for this commission.

First, if you missed it, you can read what I wrote about Shawn toward the end my Q3 2022 senior pastor report here.

Second, click below to read Shawn’s ministry resume.

Third, some may wonder, is it right to hire such a young dad as Shawn in such a role as pastor in family ministries? Wouldn’t it naturally seem better to have a 50–60-year-old man with grandkids in that position? At first thought, yes. In fact, this question has been forefront on my mind since the day Shawn and I began his path to becoming a pastor almost two years ago, and I am happy to report what my considerations over this period of time have become:

  • 1) With me, Pastor Chuck, the Discipleship Counseling Team that Chuck and Jay Bell are forming, plus the new Executive Pastor, yes, the age and experience of CG’s pastoral team allows us to raise up a younger Youth and Family Ministries Pastor.
  • 2) This is why we are placing the “Youth” ahead of the “Family” in the position title – a mark of Shawn’s continuing primary involvement in youth ministry while he develops family ministries early on. This will likely change in coming years.
  • 3) A younger age does not disqualify any pastor outright (biblically and testified by numerous examples), but it does warrant close examination of all other character, competency, and calling qualities, and we have closely examined these.
  • 4) Shawn fully grasps the vision for the desired future of family ministries at CG and is primed, ready, and hungry for leading its launch and bringing families to greater maturity as he leads his own family.
  • *Please contact me with any further questions!

After Shawn preached this point, I returned to add the vital involvement our small groups and ministries have in our Maturing as Family. I thank our small group leaders for sticking out their necks to provide relational shepherding to the flock at Community Grace. Small Groups kick off in a couple weeks, by the way, are you in one!? Find and sign up for one or a couple to visit, here.

III.   How Will We Engage the World?

A. LOCALLY: Two Musts for Engaging the World

1.     Personal Holiness

1 Peter 1:13–15 – Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.

Holiness is a distinctive of God’s people. Again, we need to be all-in for Jesus because He was all-in for us. If we do not pursue holiness, we will be powerless. If we quench and grieve the Holy Spirit, will He give us power? If we disobey God, will He bless us? Can we expect God to be the source of our peace if the world is the source of our satisfaction?

2.     Plant and Water Gospel Seeds in Our Fields

This is not reserved for some gifted Christians; it is THE mission of all Christians.  

Our fields are everyone we talk to, whether for a moment in a store, a business relationship, we tell people God loves them, that I believe in Jesus, that there is a solution for evil, that there is hope – His name is Jesus, that they are invited to CG. God gives us daily opportunities to plant these Gospel seeds.  


CG will continue to add global mission effort, send out missionaries, and adopt UPG’s like our focus on the Fulani people of North and Central Africa.

Here is the link to the one-minute video of our current missionaries that we played on Sunday. Will you say a prayer for them as you watch? – Video of our Missionaries

Take ownership of our Engage the World goals. People can only be saved if they hear about Jesus. A church can only grow if new people walk through the door!

A closing prayer: “Father God, we want success and the church to grow, but not so we look great but that you look great. Will you guide and grow each of us, and us as your church, as we worship and follow Jesus together.”

On this Mission, with Vision, together,

Pastor Reg

Why We Are Hiring an Executive Pastor at Community Grace and What that Means

Over the last three years our staff and elders have worked tirelessly towards bringing vision, evaluation, leadership development, health, and multiplication to every part of the church. Early on, as we sensed our church’s rate of growth would continue, we prayerfully assessed future staffing decisions. The results became clear: We needed to hire a Worship Director, a Children’s Ministry Director, a Congregational Care/Counseling/Seniors Pastor, increase our administrative office support, and ultimately hire an Executive Pastor. All of those have become wonderfully blessed realities, except for the Executive Pastor, and we are right now in the midst of searching for God’s man for this ministry position.

At the close of 2021, the congregation approved a budget for 2022 which included an Executive Pastor’s salary for the final quarter of 2022. A candidate was not found in 2022, so those budget dollars are accruing (which is good since inflation is soaring.) When the right person is found according to God’s timing through the Executive Pastor Screening Team and approval of the Elders, the congregation will have opportunity to interact with him before a congregational vote is called. We had hoped that would align with our annual meeting on January 22, 2023, but if it does not, a special vote will be called as necessary.

We have spoken and written a fair amount about this additional staff hire, but now that this search process is underway, we considered it time to produce this article answering the questions: Why are we hiring an Executive Pastor? And, what does that mean?

These questions will be answered thoroughly in this paper, but in short at the outset, the key characteristic of an Executive Pastor over any other kind of associate pastor is his direct partnership with the Senior Pastor. He partners with the Senior Pastor to make the church’s vision a reality, with the goal of engaging everyone and maximizing all efforts. Consider the following quote about this partnership:

“It has been said that an institution is the lengthening shadow of a visionary leader. What rarely is said is that in the shadow of that visionary leader was another leader who executed the primary leader’s ideas, monitored the budgets, built the infrastructure and systems, and, along the way, cleaned up a few messes. Such is the life of a leader who is ‘second in command.’” (Bruce Hornsby)

Community Grace’s job posting which we have distributed nationally begins with these words…

If you are interested in serving as an Executive Pastor to help move a growing church to the next level of effective ministry, then Warsaw Community Grace is a church you need to consider. Our mission is to glorify God by being Christ-followers who make Christ followers. Our vision is expressed in three statements: WORSHIP THE KING • MATURE AS FAMILY • ENGAGE THE WORLD

The Executive Pastor will partner with the Senior Pastor in overseeing, designing, and multiplying systems to make this mission and vision come to life in our church.

The church is positioned to continue growing, and we believe that hiring the right strategic Executive Pastor is the next crucial step in this process.

In other words, a visionary Senior Pastor and Elder Board operates largely at a “30,000-foot level,” but they must also ensure that on the “ground level” every detail is functioning well and ministries are being developed and overseen to meet the needs of every Christ-follower and Un-churched person we reach. This is a great challenge, and the Executive Pastor fills these operational gaps. I am personally somewhat wired to think this way and have worked on developing our church’s systems. But I know my limitations. I also know the enormous potential of a church having all its systems matured and streamlined to serve every person, family, and ministry in the church, and every person we will reach in the community.

I admire John Piper, former Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, in many ways. When they were hiring an Executive Pastor back in the 1990’s (when this role was less common than it is today) he described it in these helpful ways:

There are two impulses behind this staffing decision. One has to do with the growth and complexity of Bethlehem’s ministry, and the other has to do with my calling, gifts, and limitations as Senior Pastor.

The Executive Pastor differs from the Senior Pastor in that he gives more immediate oversight to organization: planning, directing, and evaluating the ministries of the church. He is the human nerve-center for the creation, development, staffing, coordinating, and direction of ministries in the church. He sees that these things get done, so that communication, harmony, and faithfulness to the vision prevail. Most immediately he relates directly to the staff as the central sprocket that all their cogs fit into. He serves them by seeing that their efforts cohere with the mission of the church and the other areas of ministry, and that they have the share of resources they need.

Example: Someone gets the vision of implementing a “2000 by 2000” hotline for the next three years and writes up a proposal. This would have an immediate impact on office staff, phone usage, and the ministries of David Livingston (E1) and Tom Steller (E2). It would require not only initial conceptual planning, but weekly design and interaction from someone. This proposal would be funneled to the Executive Pastor. He would bounce it off relevant people, both staff and lay people, and possibly bring a refined proposal to the pastoral staff. The green light would release him to seek out a layperson to put in charge and to oversee the process of how the ministry would be carried forward. There are dozens of such ideas every year in a healthy and dynamic church. And that is just one kind of example.

I love this description because it reflects our reality at Community Grace. We are a growing church, and every idea for new ministry must go through these kinds of processes. This creates a heavy load on our staff and volunteers who may or may not be gifted at these processes. These efforts also require excellent communication and alignment with our mission and vision. Having an Executive Pastor who oversees these processes unleashes the ministries of the church and maximizes the contributions of each staff member and leader.

Piper’s second reason for this hire is that the Senior Pastor is freed up by the Executive Pastor to focus more on study, preaching, trumpeting the vision, and his other giftings. It is much better for a church if their Senior Pastor is operating in his strengths and serving the church in the ways it needs its senior pastor to serve them. I am continually understanding more how I must grow as a leader and what I must defer to others.

Let’s talk more about what an Executive Pastor can mean to us as a church. Much of what comes next is from the book Defining the Executive Pastor Role, written by Phil Taylor.

What kind of person is an Executive Pastor? How are they “wired” by God?

One Executive Pastor tells the story about discovering how he was wired by God to be an Executive Pastor. The pivotal moment came while attending the musical “Les Miserables” with a group of friends. As they watched the spectacular musical, rather than be impressed with the skill of the actors or the sweeping musical score, all he could think was, “There must be someone behind the scenes making all of this run perfectly. Who is running this thing? Who makes sure that everyone is in the right place at the right time? Who calls the under-study when the main actor gets the flu? Who deals with squabbles between the people on stage and those in the orchestra pit? Who is in charge backstage?” It wasn’t long after this that he discovered his calling in the increasingly common role of “Executive Pastor.” This story demonstrates that as with every function in His body, God “wires” some people to serve in this role.

What does the role of the Executive Pastor involve?

Essentially, the Executive Pastor’s role is to oversee the effective detailed implementation of the church’s vision. Led by the Senior Pastor, the Vision Team and Elders form the vision and direction of the church and cast that vision from the pulpit and every other avenue of communication. But, if those leaders get bogged down in the specifics of implementing vision, it limits their availability to lead, kills creativity, and burns them out.

The Executive Pastor takes on the responsibility of leading vison implementation. With the entire organization in mind, he zooms in on every detail and breaks them into manageable bites for the moving parts of the church body. He enacts unified plans of action to prevent loss of momentum. He brings order where there is chaos. He ensures people are equipped, supported, and appreciated.

Further, he helps ministry leaders understand how their ministries fit into the larger vision of the church, whether it is the men’s or women’s ministry, the security team, the assimilation team, the building project, the budget, or any other ministry. He helps leaders understand the goals and metrics of the vision so there are no silo ministries.    

Who is the “right” Executive Pastor for our church?

Every Executive Pastor’s job description is different because every Senior Pastor is different, and every church is different. An Executive Pastor’s job description is malleable to fit the context. Numerous tools exist to help determine the best job description and best fit for each Executive Pastor. [Our present Job Description and posting for this position can be read by clicking here. As mentioned, it can be tailored to some degree to fit the best candidate.]

Another useful distinction among Executive Pastors is that some are wired more as EXECUTIVES while others are wired more as PASTORS. The “EXECUTIVES” will gravitate toward policies, procedures, human resources, budgeting, and capital campaigns. The “PASTORS” will identify team members or experts who will do those tasks well, while they focus more on shepherding. They will be the guys focusing more on discipleship during performance evaluations. Is one better than the other? No, and at present, we are looking for an Executive Pastor who brings a healthy balance of both.


As you can see the Executive Pastor can be an enormous blessing to a growing, healthy church. I describe this role as one which removes bottlenecks in our church systems which will allow exponential growth. In my estimation, our work over the last three years has brought many of our systems up to 80-90% of their potential effectiveness, but it’s that final 10-20% development that is the hardest and where key breakdowns occur.

Community Grace is a healthy church, positioned well in our community, with huge potential and a vision to match it, while we aim to maintain our family feel while we grow. It is exciting to be part of this church with you. I ask for your partnership and for your prayer for me, the Elders and Staff’s continued wisdom. The Bible makes clear that a church who prays for its leadership will experience great blessing.

Seeking your support and prayers for our Screening Team, this man and his and his family’s transition, and God’s preferred future for Community Grace,

Pastor Reg