I’m allergic to the idea of the pastor as a CEO, and so it was with interest that I read a post by Mike on the Ra’ah blog defending the idea. (Especially since Mike has had a big influence on my life and is a friend of mine.) Andrew Hamilton had a very strong reaction.
I commented on the post that we have to ask what sort of church would need to think about having a CEO. If you have a church which resembles the NT churches, then you won’t need a CEO. Instead, you would see the church as a gathering of believers who come together to decide things. (This is explored in John Yoder’s chapers on ‘Binding and loosing’ and the ‘Rule of Paul’ in Body Politics; see my simplification on this site.)
In trying to think why those from an emerging church background find the pastor as CEO repugnant, I think it’s because the CEO is a model borrowed from the corporate business world, and we would regard the corporate business world with deep suspicion.
Indeed, for many of us, the corporate business world is a source of evil in this world. It’s corporations which put shareholder returns ahead of everything else. It’s corporations who see huge profits as a good thing.
And it’s CEOs with those evilly inflated pay packets.
Bring that stuff into the church, and you’re bringing a very polluted model.
I find it worrying that large church culture seems to accept quite uncritically business models on the grounds that they ‘work’. One of the key points at which Scripture needs to have authority for us is in our ecclesiology. The church has gone and got it’s ecclesiology from the business world instead, and it’s wrong.
That all said, I think Mike’s point in his post was more nuanced, about the role of a CEO being to implement the church board’s vision. From that perspective, I can see what he’s saying. He also sees the CEO model as coming from the non-profit sector, as a model of service. And he later says he doesn’t think we should necessarily use the term.