Inside Look at the Executive Pastor’s Role in a Church of 3,000+ People with Abram Gomez

Hey, everybody, and welcome to the unSeminary podcast. I’m really looking forward to today’s conversation with Abram Gomez from Cross Church, a fantastic multi-site church in Texas. Cross Church is about 20 minutes from the Texas/Mexico border and they currently have three campuses in the cities of San Benito, McAllen, and Brownsville. The church is a bilingual ministry, with English and Spanish services to reach across cultures.

Abram is the executive pastor at Cross Church and is here today to talk with us about his role at the church and what he’s learning about leading from that second chair.

  • Second string. // Abram’s wife and the senior pastor’s wife are sisters, so not only is he leading from the executive pastor role but there is also a family connection within his role. Abram describes the executive pastor role as being the second string quarterback. “You have to be at practice, but you don’t get as many snaps in front of the people.” At meetings he may not be the one creating the vision for the ministry, but is the one helping interpret and translate it for others to understand and make that vision come to life.
  • Called like Aaron. // The life of Moses and Aaron is a great motivator for Abram in staying connected to his work as that second string. When God calls Moses to the people, Moses says he’s not good enough to speak in front of the people and so God calls Aaron to Moses. Abram sees his pastor as called to the people like Moses, and himself as called to his senior pastor like Aaron was called to Moses. Abram has learned as an executive pastor that he is just as strong and ambitious as a leader, yet that submission and that tension has to be managed. Abram wants to know his pastor’s heart and vision and then translate that well so he takes time to understand and listen. He also helps his pastor know where they are as an organization in different ministries. Abram works to be the mediator between his pastor and the organization, to say, “Hey, your vision is great, here we are in this ministry, so here’s what we need to do to make it happen.”
  • Meeting with smaller groups. // As executive pastor of a multisite church, Abram no longer watches over the entire staff. He now meets with key department heads who report to him on what’s going on, and only shows up to their meetings when they need motivation and help in getting something off the ground. In addition to leading the staff and leaders, Abram also tries to pastor them and manage that dynamic.
  • Set the roles and culture. // Cross Church is still in the early days of managing multisite campuses, and so they are learning a lot. One of the first lessons was that they created staff with the same titles at the different sites, but when they brought them together they found that they were doing different roles. Defining the roles that are needed at each campus is one of the first things that needs to be done in managing a multisite church. In addition, do some spot checks on the culture of the other campuses to ensure that they are still developing it with the same passion and core values that they started with.

You can learn more about Cross Church at their website crosschurchonline.com.

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Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Michael Hyatt, Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, GroupMe App

Ministries Following // Hillsong, Elevation

Influential Book // Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track–and Keeping It There by Les McKeown

Inspiring Leader // Elon Musk or John Maxwell

What you do for fun // Spend time with kids, play golf, go to beach

Contact // Website crosschurchonline.com

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.