TRANSITION & 5 Things Every Leader Should Do Now to Prepare for Transition by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 11/16/19.

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Warren Buffett has a famous rule he calls the Noah Rule: “Predicting the rain doesn’t count, building an ark does.”

Because most leaders in today’s fluid job market will transition to a new position sooner than later, leaders should be preparing for transitions. Currently I am writing a doctoral-level course on “interim and transitional ministry,” and in doing so I have been reminded by multiple authors about the importance of creating a transition plan before you need one. Here are five lessons to consider.

1.  Don’t call it an exit plan, because it should be a transition plan. If the leader looks selfishly at the transition, they will usually see it as a way to exit a situation. But looking at it this way will usually leave the organization in the lurch. Rather leaders should be preparing a transition plan that helps both organization and individual. Jesus had many hard conversations with his disciples about his impending crucifixion and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22; Mark 8:31). What if Jesus had said, “I have an exit plan.” That would be self-centered and inauthentic of Him.  Rather Jesus spoke of “the new covenant (promise)m written in my blood” (Luke 22:20, Message Bible).  So create a transition plan that takes into consideration the the church, as well as the leader’s, needs.

2. A transition plan allows the leader to find and nurture mentees. As I conduct research on transitions, I find that one of the most damaging aspects of leadership transitions is when the leader has been a hands-on, do it all themselves person. This leaves a huge gap when the leader leaves, that often cannot be filled quickly. As a result the organization often declines during the transition. Again Jesus‘ example of selecting his disciples years before his ascension, reminds us of the time needed for delegation and experimentation to foster a smooth transition (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-34; Luke 5:1-11).

3. Letting others know about your plans will not necessarily push you out sooner, but can actually give you time for a transition. One of the first consultations I conducted 30 years ago was for a pastor who the board was forcing out because he wouldn’t embrace contemporary worship. He explained to me that he was ready to move on to a church that practiced mostly traditional worship, but they were hard to find and he would need 12 to 18 month to find one in his denomination. I encouraged him to meet with the leaders of the church and discuss his heart’s desire in worship style. I told him to explain that he was not against contemporary worship, rather it was not for him. He replied, “That’s not the way it’s done in our denomination. Once you tell them you’re thinking about leaving, they push you out.” 

I reminded him they were already subtly trying to push him out, so it really didn’t matter if he told them. And I reminded him that if he told them now it would be a sign of candor and honesty. “If they appreciate your many years of loyal service,” I replied, as I believe they did, “They will work with you if you demonstrate that you want a transition that is good for the church and is good for your family too.”

He did as I suggested and offered to spend 18 months helping the church make a transition to a new pastor. The church leaders agreed, because they too did not want to be without a pastor without sufficient notice. Today that Pastor is “pastor emeritus” of the congregation. He is invited back to preach several times a year and for all church milestones. “I was skeptical,” he said to me many years later, “But being open and honest resulted in a long-term relationship I am thankful for every day.”

4. A transition plan takes more detailed planning than most people think. A transition plan isn’t just transitioning from one leader to another, but it is also usually a time of transitioning the organization and even sometimes the staff. Therefore the change is not just about a person, but it’s about two more things: a) the people who are friends or work alongside the leader and b) the future personality of the church. 

a) Some churches require that staff members resign when the lead pastor resigns. This can be good in some situations, especially if there is a toxic leadership culture.  But at other times this is a denominational or church tradition. Yet in almost all situations it puts hardships upon the paid staff who must resign. Putting together a transition plan in advance allows these people to prepare as well as look for other positions. When the leader keeps to themselves the information that he or she is going to leave, they often rob the other staff members of the ability to plan for their professional livelihoods. Without planning staff members are often unfairly upended and their families bear the pain. Church leaders who say they want to build a family church, must consider the families of those who will leave or be forced to leave when the leader transitions.

b) Also when a church’s personality needs to change, it will take some time to figure out what this new personality will be. Set up meetings with key stakeholders in the church to discuss and compromise on where the church is headed. We see this at the Council of Jerusalem, when James brought together all parties to discuss and foster a compromise that would allow the Great Commission to expand while respecting differences in cultures (Acts 15).

5. Finally making a transition plan in advance allows you to modify your transition plan as the leader and the church’s circumstances change. Planning a transition and giving it time to develop allows the church time to plan for the transition and figure out what it wants to be. And, the leader might find that the type of position she or he or she desired has now changed. As Proverbs 16:1 (Message Bible) says, “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word.”

In 30 years of consulting I have observed that time and planning allow for prayer, dialogue, experimentation and the Holy Spirit to guide a transition that does not thwart a church’s health or growth, but enhances it.

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/5-things-every-leader-should-do-now-to-prepare-for-transition/

TRANSITIONS & What to do when people beat a path to a new pastor’s door w/ new ideas

by Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review, 8/8/17.

A 10-year longitudinal study on executive transitions that my organization conducted found that more than 50% of executives who inherit a mess fail within their first 18 months on the job… there are six things the most effective leaders do to avoid failing in a new role…

Know the fine line between self-promotion and real help. Fearing for their very survival, people in a damaged organization will campaign at great lengths to prove their worth. My client had people beating paths to her door with ideas that had languished unheard. They were eager to offer their support, and even more eager to be seen as key players in the future she was constructing. In one debrief, she vented to me, “On one hand, some of the elements of their ideas are really good. On the other hand, they are so invested in convincing me how indispensable they are that they’ve lost objectivity about what is and isn’t feasible.” She felt obligated to hear their ideas but reluctant to offer critique, for fear of appearing not open to any ideas but her own. She knew she couldn’t symbolically accept ideas just to look like she’d listened, nor could she be the only one whose substantive ideas prevailed. She created a process of full transparency that allowed ideas to be judged on the merits of their potential impact, not on who brought them. Together, the team created a set of criteria that future solutions needed to meet, and all ideas were presented to the entire team, not just her. Further, she made it safe for each presenter to disclose any personal agenda about why they wanted their ideas adopted and what fears they had about their ideas not prevailing. She asked them to “honestly assess your idea as if you had no fears about job security.” Not only did this accelerate trust among them, it also allowed the best ideas to prevail…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2017/08/leading-effectively-when-you-inherit-a-mess

TRANSITIONS & Research finds 50%+ of leaders who inherit a mess fail w/in first 18 mo & 6 things NOT to do

by Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review, 8/8/17.

A 10-year longitudinal study on executive transitions that my organization conducted found that more than 50% of executives who inherit a mess fail within their first 18 months on the job… there are six things the most effective leaders do to avoid failing in a new role.

Resist the temptation to emotionally distance yourself… Four weeks after my client’s arrival, I noticed a distinctive pattern in her language. When referring to the significant challenges of her new organization, she consistently spoke in third-person references — they, them, those people.

Never blame your predecessor. .. In one meeting, my client’s frustration got the best of her, and while looking over the past quarter’s budget, she blurted out, “What on earth was he thinking?” Well, since “he” isn’t there anymore, everyone else in the room was implicated by proxy.

Minimize references to past successes. …often beginning sentences with, “Well, when I was at XYZ company…” people simply shut down. I told her that those attempts to bolster her credibility were actually backfiring and that she needed to let the merits of her thinking stand on their own, without referencing where the ideas came from.

Know the fine line between self-promotion and real help. Fearing for their very survival, people in a damaged organization will campaign at great lengths to prove their worth. My client had people beating paths to her door with ideas that had languished unheard. They were eager to offer their support, and even more eager to be seen as key players in the future she was constructing. In one debrief, she vented to me, “On one hand, some of the elements of their ideas are really good. On the other hand, they are so invested in convincing me how indispensable they are that they’ve lost objectivity about what is and isn’t feasible.” She felt obligated to hear their ideas but reluctant to offer critique, for fear of appearing not open to any ideas but her own. She knew she couldn’t symbolically accept ideas just to look like she’d listened, nor could she be the only one whose substantive ideas prevailed. She created a process of full transparency that allowed ideas to be judged on the merits of their potential impact, not on who brought them. Together, the team created a set of criteria that future solutions needed to meet, and all ideas were presented to the entire team, not just her. Further, she made it safe for each presenter to disclose any personal agenda about why they wanted their ideas adopted and what fears they had about their ideas not prevailing. She asked them to “honestly assess your idea as if you had no fears about job security.” Not only did this accelerate trust among them, it also allowed the best ideas to prevail…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2017/08/leading-effectively-when-you-inherit-a-mess

PASTORAL TRANSITIONS & Dewey Smith’s personal story of his challenging pastoral transition

This popular session from the Church Central Turnaround 20/20 conference details Pastor Smith’s difficult journey of becoming the new pastor of a 137 year-old church, and the lessons he learned in the process. “I really had to humble myself like never before,” he says. “We can create climates that make church growth more conducive, but ultimately it’s God who adds the increase.”

Watch the video at … http://www.churchcentral.com/videos/dewey-smiths-personal-story-of-his-challenging-pastoral-transition/

 

PASTORAL TENURE & Infographic: Every Pastor Is an Interim Pastor (Even if You’re There 30 Years)

by Leadership Network, 6/14.

Newspapers rarely run articles titled, “Pastoral succession was so seamless and smooth that church momentum didn’t skip a beat.” They should. Those successions do happen. It’s largely the bad news that makes headlines. The reality is no matter how long you’re at your church, at some point you need to prepare to pass the baton – and there’s help for doing it well.

If your church is anticipating succession in the next few years, let us help you walk through the stages of preparation and transition — on May 3-4, 2016, in Houston. CLICK HERE to tell us about your situation, and then we’ll contact you.

This infographic tells you a little of what we’ve learned so far:

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Succession-Facts-FINAL.png

HUMOR & 3 Envelopes for the displaced pastor

by David Briggs, Huffington Post, 6/1/16.

There is a popular joke about displaced pastors preparing three envelopes for their successor to be opened each time the new person runs into trouble.

The first time it happens, the new pastor opens the envelope marked No. 1 and it reads, “Blame your predecessor.”

The second time, the pastor finds a note instructing him to, “Blame denominational policy.”

It is not long before the pastor once again finds himself on the wrong side of the congregation. This time, the note inside reads, “Draw up three envelopes. …”

Read more at … http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-briggs/saving-grace-the-leadersh_b_10209548.html?utm_hp_ref=religion&ir=Religion

PASTOR TRANSITION & Thoughts from a Conversation w/ William Vanderbloemen

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/28/15.

Tonight I had dinner with William Vanderbloemen, founder of one of the most successful pastoral search firms http://www.vanderbloemen.com/about/team and co-author with respected researcher Warren Bird of NEXT: Pastoral Successful That Works. As the former pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Houston (the oldest Presbyterian church in Texas) he learned from a colleague how Christian hospitals had effective succession plans. Out of these two careers came one of today’s most effective pastoral succession firms.

We were discussing how churches branch out with different cultural worship expressions. Knowing Bill was from Texas, I mentioned that a colleague of mine in Texas was branching out with a “Cowboy Church.” If you know about Cowboy Churches, these churches often hold worship at rodeos or under a tent, where boots and cowboy hats are welcomed, even expected at church (see Cowboy Church with Rodeo Arena, They do Church Different).

William responded, “The key for success is if the preacher is really from the cowboy culture. You can’t fake that in Texas. There is one Cowboy Church pastor and he is missing two fingers. He lost those riding in the rodeo. That is a signal that he is part of your culture.”

William’s response reminded me of what I had heard about his firm from my client, Vineyard of Cincinnati, that had used him with their pastoral search.

The key is authentic cultural relevance. The cowboy pastor with two missing figures was a sign to his cowboy culture that he was committed and authentic.

As a man who leads probably the largest pastoral placement firm in America, I’ve heard from my clients that he stresses the importance of matching a pastor to the authentic culture of the organization. “So do you have a place on your questionnaire that asks, ‘How many fingers do you have’?” May be we should he replied.

HIRING & Why A Church Cannot Hire Itself Out of Trouble. But, there is the alternative!

by Bob Whitesel, 6/22/15.

A student posited this very keen observation, “I would like to think that churches cultivate their own pastors.  But in looking at the people I know from other churches and from my own church, this is not happening.”

Hiring your church out of trouble.

My personal thinking is that this is a customary strategy churches follow because of what I call “the professional fallacy of leadership.” By this I mean most churches try to hire a professional to get us out of trouble, or in other words: “hire the church out of trouble.”  This is a strategy whereby a church, rather than getting more of the congregation involved, tries to hire a more effective leader than they had previously. Subsequently, the lay and organizational problems of the church never get resolved and everyone looks to the new pastor to be the rescuer of the church.

Why it fails (three reasons).

The “hire the church out of trouble” strategy fails because of several factors:

1) Pastor is viewed as the savior of the organization.  This strategy puts undue expectations upon the pastor, and if the pastor doesn’t address the church’s internal organizational and laity problems, the pastor gets blamed.  This may be the reason there is so much pastoral turnover. They, instead of Christ, are seen as the savior of the church and if they don’t save it from a slow death, their leadership is blamed.

2) Communication and decision-making bottlenecks.  This strategy also perpetuates the “sole proprietorship” of organizational behavior where the church is run like a “mom and pop store.”  Because all major decisions have to go through the pastor, progress stalls because of information/permission bottlenecks. Again, because the church hired the pastor to get them out of trouble, they blame the pastor if their organizational behavior doesn’t change.

3) Good turnaround leaders will be poached by bigger churches.  But, a key weakness in this approach is that once you find a pastor that “fits” your church’s personality and potential, then that pastor will be the hiring target of larger churches and/or the judicatory overseers (district superintendent, presbytery, etc.).  This perpetuates an ecclesial system of continual pastoral transition, which hurts smaller churches because their competent pastors are constantly being hired away.  Unless the pastor fights to stay, then smaller churches will always experience ongoing pastoral transitions and remain weak.

The solution?

1)  Create a robust leadership apprenticeship program in your church.  Make leadership development a hallmark of your church.  For instance, make every volunteer, board member and small group leader have an “assistant” they are apprenticing.  Have them give to their supervisor the name and the supervisor should ensure every leader is apprenticing someone.

2)  Allow grassroots teams to make decisions and learn from their failures.  Because many church leaders are trained professionals, we like to teach people how to avoid failure. But this prevents emerging leaders from learning from their mistakes.  Accept and encourage mistakes, but keep them focused on progress.

3)  Develop home-grown leaders. They know your organization well, are less likely to leave and have a team they have developed over time.  Look for leaders who have been raised up from within your organization. For instance, a youth pastor can grow into a young adult pastor.  Then a young adult pastor can grow into a young married pastor.  Eventually that young married pastor can become the pastor of middle age adults and eventually the senior adults.  I have seen it done many times, and the history and proficiency it creates is amazing.

SUCCESSION & How Pastors Are Passing the Leadership Baton #WarrenBurd

Succession plans can destroy a church. Or help it thrive for years to come. What are the keys to success?

By Warren Bird, 11/18/2014, Christianity Today

…Four Models

Our research found that among the 100 largest Protestant U.S. churches, the average senior pastor is age 55 and has led the church for 21 years. And 44 percent of the pastors founded the church. According to Scott Thumma and Dave Travis (in Beyond Megachurch Myths), 82 percent of today’s megachurches grew to their large size under the current pastor. These numbers raise the question: Will these churches be able to keep growing once the lead pastor is gone?

Here are four of the most common emerging models of leadership succession:

Family Plan. The pastoral reins are passed to a relative or long-standing spiritual son or daughter…

Sometimes the family plan involves a husband–wife handoff. At NYC’s Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral, Floyd and Elaine Flake have co-pastored thousands since 1976…

In some cases, family successions work well, such as for Bethany Church in Baker, Louisiana, now in its third generation of Stockstill leadership. For others, family successions prove not to have been the best path.

Denominational Plan. The larger the church, the more likely it is to chart its own course. If it has a bishop or district superintendent, he or she often consults with the church to appoint the next pastor…

In reality, the church often leads the denomination by example. Mike Slaughter, 63, arrived at Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio, when it had fewer than 100 attendees. Now there are over 4,000, and the church includes 501(c)(3) organizations, a counseling center, low-income housing, and multiple campuses. “This complexity almost requires leaders to be raised from within,” says Slaughter.

“I consider us R&D for the UMC as they work with other large churches,” he says. “We want to serve as a test case.” By working with Leadership Network CEO Dave Travis, Slaughter has transitioned senior staff to a younger team, most in their 30s, including a 31-year-old teaching pastor. “My focus is to mentor and train our senior team and to pastor our staff,” he says.

Slaughter plans to retire July 1, 2019. “Our board and all staff know the timeline, and this fall we told our lay leaders—and now we’re telling anyone who reads this!”

Process-Only Plan. A common approach is for the outgoing pastor to help create and set in motion a succession plan—and then get out. This was the case for Leith Anderson, who retired in 2011 after 35 years of pastoring Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. “Wooddale and I developed a written protocol about 10 years before the transition,” says Anderson. “It specified how to manage the situation if the senior pastor dies, is disabled, becomes heterodox, fails morally, resigns, retires, etc. Doing this takes the pressure and emotion out of the process…”

Intentional Overlap Plan. Our research for Next found that more large-church pastors than not intentionally overlapped with their predecessor. It seems to be the strongest model for succession—when the church culture matches it.

The overlap typically runs for months but occasionally for years…

Some churches have a co-pastor situation, but that rarely leads to permanent co-pastor arrangements. Since 1980, Larry Osborne has been senior pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, California. Chris Brown, 18 years younger, became co-pastor in 2004, and preaches just as much as Osborne. In business terms, North Coast has always had a shared leadership model that functions more like a partnership in a cpa firm than a sole proprietorship with valued employees. Should Osborne die or step away, Brown would likely take on the managing partner role that Osborne held until Brown was elevated.

“I don’t believe in a transition plan longer than 18 months,” says Osborne. It goes by . . . too slowly for the one waiting in the wings. It’s hard to find a ‘big L’ leader willing to wait 3 to 5 years. With a partnership model, 18 months is plenty.”

No One Model

Research in Elephant in the Boardroom affirms that no model is the best or even most likely to result in a seamless pastoral succession. One of the most-watched handoffs was that of Gene Getz, founding pastor of the formerly named Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas. At 72, he passed his leadership baton to a former intern. “There is no one pattern or approach for making a successful transition,” Getz wrote recently in DTS [Dallas Theological Seminary] Connection. “We need to be guided by supracultural principles that emerge from biblical models and directives. We also need to learn from history in order to avoid making mistakes that have led to outright succession failure.”

Our research affirms the same conclusion: From the Moses–Joshua handoff to Jesus’ training of the Twelve, succession planning is both biblical and essential, but there is no cookie-cutter template.

The only thing that’s certain? It’s an inevitable need in every church. And we hope to move it from taboo to normal.

Warren Bird, PhD, an ordained C&MA minister, is research director for Leadership Network and author or coauthor of 27 books, including Next(Baker Books).

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/november/how-pastors-are-passing-leadership-baton.html?paging=off