MINISTERIAL TRANSITIONS & Utilizing a simple graphic, such as this one by a client church, helps congregants visually track the ministerial transition process.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., April 11, 2021.

While designing a course to help pastors and churches successfully navigate pastoral transitions for Fuller Theological Seminary, I became aware of how much church communication must be a priority during pastoral transitions. But often too much or too little information is shared, leading to confusion at best or suspicion at the worst.

This client congregation overcame this problem and communicated its process well through three simple charts.

CHART 1 (behind the word “prayer”) depicts the 5 stage process with a time for each stage. Attendees can quickly see where they are in the process and which steps are still ahead.

CHART 2 depicts how the selection process “narrows” to the selection of a candidate. It is important for attendees to see that the eventual selection has emerged from a significant pool of candidates.

CHART 3 (with the word “prayer” superimposed) reminds that the overriding consideration is that this is a spiritual exercise and prayer is how each stakeholder participates.

The above is CHART 1 (without the word “prayer” superimposed)
& CHART 3 (with the word “prayer” superimposed)
The above is CHART 2

TRANSITION & Leadership Succession Basics

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/16/15.

Below is my commentary and some notes I’ve taken (and with which my consulting experience can confirm) on my friend Warren Bird’s book with William Vanderblomen: Next: Pastoral Succession That Works (Baker Books, 2014).

8 year average senior pastor tenure with 18 years avg. senior pastor career (Bird, Vanderblomen, 22)

Principles (p. 30).
> The Bible teaches models of succession.
> Every leader is an interim.

Succession plans keep the church healthy and prevent personality cults regardless of the type of succession plan: emergency, nonemergency yet unforeseen departure, and retirement (pp 33-34).

Founders syndrome (ch. 7): Long term pastorates usually lead to healthier churches. A new culture and a new team is required in second generation pastors.

Unintentional interims (ch. 12): Without ongoing succession planning and a current succession plan, well-meaning team members may become unintentional interims. This usually does not go well because unintentional interims have been team players rather than team leaders. Planning for succession also prevents a leader unintentionally becoming a sacrifice pastor.

Where to look for succession pastors (ch. 14). A leader who is sensitive to the current organizational culture plus understands the emerging organizational culture culture and is a slightly smaller organization is the best leader to choose.

How much it will cost (ch. 15). Bird and Vanderblomen make the argument that whatever the cost, it is usually worth it. Of course Vanderblomen leads a highly successful and professional search firm

How to know when it is time to leave (ch. 4). Due to a need for security, leaders often decide too late that it’s time to live leave. Hence a succession plan in advance helps everyone see the direction of the organization and helps them plan ahead. On a bell curve growth chart this would be about the middle of the plateau at least.

“Ten commandments” of succession planning (ch. 2). Below is their very helpful infographic. I recommend you buy the book for the many helpful details.