By Chris Moon
Kevin Stone wants to be the executive pastor many churches want but simply can’t afford to hire.
Years ago, the executive pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Royersford, Pa., began thinking about how he could serve small and midsized churches that simply don’t have the capacity to hire ministers to manage their operations and administration.
So in 2006, he founded the first iteration of what has become known as Executive Pastor Online.
“The site is your online executive pastor,” Stone said. “The idea is to provide that skill set and those fundamental concepts to the smaller churches out there that definitely have that need but don’t have the budget for it.”
Today, Stone said, the website—www.executivepastoronline.com—receives 600 to 800 visits per day on average. The accompanying Twitter account has 3,500 followers.
“It’s a fairly popular site,” he said.
A Background in Business
Stone grew up in Middletown, Ohio, and joined the Navy out of high school. After that, he went to work as a maintenance mechanic and shop technician for a manufacturing company near Denver.
Sixteen years later, Stone was the company’s vice president of operations.
In the meantime, he got his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, with a minor in business management. And he eventually shifted industries—from manufacturing to telecom.
He also became part of the core group that planted Christ’s Church of the Valley in Royersford. Stone said he worked the soundboard on the church’s first Sunday in 2000.
Four years later, Stone was lured to become the church’s executive pastor—a job he said came with “a 50 percent pay cut.”
Since then, CCV has moved out of an old movie theater that it used to inhabit, purchased 19 acres of land, and built two buildings totaling 50,000 square feet. The church’s attendance has grown from an average of 270 in its first year to 1,700 today.
A Mission to Share
Stone said part of his motivation to create Executive Pastor Online was CCV’s mission to become a “teaching church.”
“We’re going to share everything that we know (and) that works with the rest of the world,” Stone said.
He wanted that attitude to extend into his own position as an executive pastor. “My vehicle for doing that was this website,” he said.
Stone started his effort with a simple blog. And that morphed over time and increased in sophistication. Today, Stone is operating a custom-built website, and he’s branded himself as the “executive pastor online.”
All of the website’s content is written by Stone. It includes numerous articles aimed at helping churches tackle tough issues that normally would be handled by an executive pastor.
A casual exploration of the site turns up titles like “Does your church do ‘fly by’ weddings?” and “How much is enough when it comes to cash reserves?” and “Understanding the effect seating capacity has on momentum.”
Key categories on the site include leadership, human resources, outreach, and technology. Stone also provides how-to articles on writing job descriptions, operating procedures, and incident reports.
Stone said the site has even brought him work coaching executive and senior pastors around the country. For a fee, Stone engages regularly with his clients for yearlong coaching contracts.
He said he has five or six clients at a time.
“I didn’t set out to do that,” he said. “It’s kind of morphed into that.”
Developing a Structure
Today, Stone said, one of the biggest issues many churches face—those with or without executive pastors—is how to create an administrative structure that works for them.
Churches, he said, need to make decisions about how they will operate. They need to develop policies on a range of issues—from building use to the hiring of new staff—to enable them to run efficiently.
“Having a documented process is very important,” Stone said. “These are the biggies that churches face.”
And Stone said Executive Pastor Online will keep trying to help.
The purpose of the site, after all, “is to meet that need,” he said.
Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.