The 5 Types of Campus Pastors
There are a lot of churches in the world with a lot of flavors. However, most of them have the same structure. It starts at the top with the Lead Pastor, usually followed by some sort of Executive Pastor or two, then it goes into the ministry leaders (the Youth Pastors, Children's Pastors, etc). It kind of looks like a pyramid when you play it on paper. This structure really only changes when you move into multi-site models.
Churches like Elevation, Southeast Christian Church, or Northpoint all have that same structure but right below the executive team and above the ministry leaders, there is a role called a Campus Pastor. This is the guy at one location who typically oversees most of what happens at that location. He functions as a mini Lead Pastor but with less responsibility. He might preach, he might lead groups, or he might just give some soul care to the staff of that campus.
Now I don't really want to talk about the tasks a Campus Pastor completes because it varies from place to place, but you should know the type of Campus Pastor you have and how to interact with them.
1. The Shepherd
Every flock needs a shepherd. If we are Jesus' sheep then we need someone to watch over us. These campus pastors are highly relational, typically more gentle, and really thrive in community with others. They usually love weddings and funerals because that is a time for them to be able to offer soul care to their congregants. But they don't love conflict. It is a relational stressor. They may not back down from it but they will appreciate you being open to their feedback and getting through the conflict as quickly/healthily as possible.
Give these pastors tickets to their favorite activity or invite them to your house for dinner. Anything to build a relationship will go a long way.
2. The Initiator
This is the exciting Campus Pastor. They are the ones who have a vision and a mission and they want you to be part of it. They are constantly dialed to 11 and love to build things from the ground up. If this is your Campus Pastor, then be prepared for a lot of fun events. Volunteer Hoedowns, Leader fondue nights, and campus field days are in your future. The downside of being an initiator is that they can come with a lot of insecurity. Typically, these pastors will view their success as ministry success, not by how God views them. So enjoy the events but make sure you validate who they are as a person before the programming.
Love these pastors well and encourage them to spend time with their families. They will need rest more than anything for longevity.
3. The Guardrails
Every campus needs a leash. Typically, ministry leaders are excited to do what they love and are ready to give it all to make it happen. The guardrail Campus Pastor keeps all of those people in check so they don't burn out or burn up resources. These are typically older guys; people who have been around the block and aren't quick to act. It doesn't mean they say no all the time, because that stunts growth, but they are always thinking about what happens next or to other ministries. They function like air-traffic control, the pilots do the leg work but they're ensuring nobody died. These Campus Pastors need appreciation and a chance to get in the game.
Most of what they do is behind the scenes so make sure you're letting them know. "even if I don't see it, I know you're doing a great job." Then offer them a chance to serve or speak or do something to get their hands dirty so they can still experience ministry.
4. The Start-Up
The start-up is all the fun of the initiator but none of the wisdom. They are typically the planting pastors of a campus and so most of their job is to gather people and convince them to take the next step with Jesus. They almost always have a billion things to do from organizing groups, preparing the next message, counseling that one couple, answering emails, and cleaning the toilets of the church. They are everywhere. But they are almost always new to the Campus Pastor role. They were probably the Youth Pastor or Adult Pastor at another campus or church. That means they have a huge learning curve ahead of them.
Give these guys loads and loads of grace. Chances are they are the most critical of themselves and are just desperate for people to see Jesus. But also offer solutions. If you have a relationship with that person, don't just offer feedback, but roll up your sleeves and help them make that campus better.
5. The Destroyer
I know the title sounds ominous. The Destroyer sounds like a transformers villain. But honestly, they're just in the wrong seat on the bus. Very few Campus Pastors take the role while thinking about how they are going to tank the church and cause people to stray further from God. But it does happen. Aside from bad hiring practices and executive teams with their hands off the wheel, the reason I see this type of pastor is that they are in the wrong job for their personality. They either want to be the next lead pastor or they are just not being trained for the role that a Campus Pastor should maintain in the organization of your church. When they want to be a Lead Pastor, they want to have more say than their role typically allows. This causes them to become disgruntled because they feel like they're being capped as a leader. But sometimes they just want to be the Campus Pastor but they aren't being trained for the role. They usually end up failing the staff below them in some way and that causes those staffers to leave to find a leader that's worth following.
These Campus Pastors are good men. They're men who love Jesus and the church, but ultimately they end up destroying people and ministries because they aren't right for the role they're in. If you think this is your campus pastor, then make sure you have some honest conversations with them and with the leadership about what you see in them. I would also encourage you to be the type of church that helps its leaders land well in the right jobs for them.
No matter which Campus Pastor you have, pray for them. The best leaders are the ones who have the support of those they are leading.