TRANSITION & 51% of incoming pastors said there was no plan in place when they arrived, and 33% said the lack of planning caused problems as they took the helm. Solution: #Apprenticeship Model

by Kenneth Young, Faith & Leadership, Duke Univeristy, 7/7/20.

… Can you imagine working alongside the leader who would eventually turn the controls over to you? What would our churches, nonprofits and other organizations be like if we created such a model?

I see the apprenticeship idea supported by 2019 Barna research,(link is external) which says that planned transitions “tend to produce positive outcomes” — yet reports that 51% of incoming pastors said there was no plan in place when they arrived, and 33% said the lack of planning caused problems as they took the helm.

An apprenticeship model would allow the established leader to shape and mold the new leader, or at least work with that leader before stepping down. Institutions are well served when such a model is put into action.

For example, Bishop Paul S. Morton, the legendary gospel singer and pastor who founded the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, stated publicly how he would transition the fellowship to new leadership — noting that he did not want to die in office — and then worked directly to apprentice now-presiding prelate Bishop Joseph Walker III, ensuring a smooth, successful transition.

Biblically, Moses trained Joshua to lead the Israelites into their next season. Elijah trained Elisha, and Jesus trained the 12 disciples for at least three years to spread the good news around the globe. If we take this model seriously, our churches, nonprofits and institutions will benefit.

Read more at … https://faithandleadership.com/kenneth-young-theres-better-way-manage-pastoral-transitions?

CAREER TRANSITIONS & Why Would People Consider Quitting Their Jobs, Exactly? Gallup Research Sums Up the Entire Reason in 1 Sentence.

Commentary by Dr  Whitesel: While preparing a new Doctor of Ministry course for Fuller Theological Seminary on interim/transitional pastoral ministry, I am researching why pastors leave churches. The article below throws light on this from the Gallup organization and suggests ways to retain talented leaders. Read the article and then find more insights at this accompanying article: CAREER TRANSITIONS & Why Do Employees Quit Their Managers? Here’s the No. 1 Reason in a Short Sentence.

“Why Would People Consider Quitting Their Jobs, Exactly? Gallup Research Sums Up the Entire Reason in 1 Sentence“ by Michael Schwantes, Inc. Magazine, 5/14/18.

In 2017, Gallup released the third iteration of their infamous workplace report, the State of the American Workplace.

Using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees in 2015 and 2016, Gallup asked employees to indicate how important certain job attributes are when considering whether to jump ship and take another gig with a different organization.

The top factor in the minds of most employees across the country? Gallup summarizes it in one sentence: The ability to do what they do best.

When they don’t get to experience this regularly, they exit early. It seems like common sense. Shouldn’t every employer or manager allow for valued workers to feel this way about their work every day? Common sense, yes; common practice, no…

The “why” behind the need to ‘do what they do best.’

Sixty percent of employees — male and female of all generations — say the ability to do what they do best in a role is “very important” to them. How do you bring that into fruition?

Employees do their best in roles that enable them to showcase and integrate their biggest strengths: talent (the natural capacity for excellence); skills (what they can do); and knowledge (what they know).

And companies are leaving money on the table by not recognizing these strengths beyond a job description, and how it all translates to high performance.

People love to use their unique talents, skills, and knowledge. But most conventional managers don’t know what those things truly are.

The best leaders will leverage close relationships with employees by finding out what their strengths are, and bringing out the best in their employees.

In fact, when managers help employees develop through their strengths and natural talents, they are more than twice as likely to engage their team members.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/why-would-people-consider-quitting-their-jobs-exactly-gallup-research-sums-up-entire-reason-in-1-sentence.html

Soeaking hashtags: FullerDMin

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

5 STAGES & How Oneya Okuwobi Transitions Churches to Living Color #Mosiax

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/26/16.

As a member of the Mosiax Network (I would encourage you to join too) I learned a great deal from the dialogue of leading thinkers at the 2016 Exponential pre-conference. We are also launching an academic society (info here) to study best practices.  Here are some gleanings from the pre-conference.

Oneya Okuwobi, who co-wrote with Mark DeYmaz the “Multi-Ethnic Christian Life Primer.”  She is the Director at Transcend Culture, an organization which resources to Multi-ethnic churches.  She egan developing multiethnic curriculum for her church a decade ago after her pastor decided he wanted to focus on helping his “98 percent white, commuter church” become more multi-ethnic. (retrieved from http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-local-church-is-primarily-responsible-for-segregation-within-congregations-says-multi-ethnic-network-leader-113024/)

Her’s is the story of an Assembly of God church (http://peopleschurch.co) that was 90% Anglo in 2000 but today is over 50% multiethnic.  She sees the key to this transformation as five stages:

  1. Understanding unconscious bias / privilege. Tests on this can be found at http://www.implicit.harvard.edu
  2. Take things you know you are bias against and surround yourself with images of positive examples that debase the bias.
  3. Exploring other cultures.
  4. Emerging when you start to integrate your leaders
  5. Experienced when the congregation reflects the diversity of the community both visually and in style.

PASTOR TRANSITION & 6 Things You Must Understand for a Successful Transition

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

William Vanderbloemen has studied the inner workings of hundreds of churches. As the founder of maybe the largest pastoral search firm in America (www.vanderbloemen.com), he shared at the Society of Church Consulting Summit on Church Staffing at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’d looked forward to hearing from him, since he helped one of my client churches (Vineyard of Cincinnati) complete an effective pastoral succession. Here are my notes from his presentation.

1) AGILITY: Power to nimble. By this he meant that churches have everyday innovation. They work at this because every day that a church exists it becomes less flexible. So, it requires churches, like people, top practice exercises that keep you nimble and flexible. Stretching exercises as a team are his recommendations to offset calcification. He suggests you recall the “unlock your past, to unlock your future.” Read the board minutes to cite examples of where the church in the past has become nimble and flexible to foster agility.

2) RECREATE EFFECTIVE CULTURES: The question he uses to understand culture is “When were the times when you functioned best as a team? And, what were the things that characterized your team at those times.” This is what he defines as “the code for your culture.” In new churches it it the set by the top five leaders in your church. In old churches it is set by its history. “I think we have seen the death of the 5-year plan. It is now about defining and supporting out culture.” So Vanderblomen feels the future is not planning your future, but understanding, stating and aligning your current and future teams with your culture.

3) FOSTER FLATTER ORGANIZATIONS: This means people on the front lines, those in the trenches, are given empowerment to make decisions rather than waiting for upper management to give permission. “It is not necessary to check in with the hierarchy. If those on the front lines understand the problem, they solve the problem on the front lines. This is a flatter organization, where teams can make the decisions, they don’t have to ask the higher-ups if those on the front lines know the culture.” He went on the say these we characteristics of Millennials.

4) FEWER SPECIALISTS: “There are fewer specialists on staffs today. A good Children’s Ministry leader can learn the speciality skill to be a youth pastor.” He stressed you hire leaders and then they can adapt and move around to fill needs. This is partially being filled by more part-time workers. A part-time but excellent leader will be better part-time rather than just using her or him as a volunteer. Hiring more part-time leaders is the future. “Fewer people, but better people; they are spending more money on smaller staffs.”

5) THEOLOGICAL AWARENESS: Being aware of theology and practice is something younger generations want today. Online and accelerated seminary programs are attractive, but they don’t want to leave their context to go to school. This is exactly what Wesley Seminary offers.

6) AWARENESS OF OPPORTUNITIES: My students undertake a SWOT analysis, where the O stands for external opportunities that an organization must respond to. This means a church is sensitive to what is happening on the outside and an organization is prepared to pounce upon new opportunities. “Communication breakthroughs lead to religious renewals that take advantage of those breakthroughs.” He went on to talk about Roman Roads that carried the Good News, how the printing press fueled the Reformation and I would add how the Industrial Revolution was used to spread the method of the Methodists. Being ready to take advantage of new communication tools usually leads to great spiritual breakthroughs.

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.

image

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.

TRANSITION & What to do on Your Way Out

by Lenny Luchetti, 5/13/14

“Most of us know that too many churches are destroyed by the heat of a pastoral transition. The change melts some churches like wax. This reality causes many of us some concern. But there are other churches that become stronger, more rock-like, through the heat of a pastoral change. Time will reveal the true fiber of this church, but I will tell you what I think. You will come through this pastoral transition stronger and more vibrant than ever, because I believe the best churches are at their best when they are under heat! The impact of my ministry will be most evident in between me and the next lead pastor. If I’ve done my work in connecting you to God, you will become an even more beautiful bride of Christ during the transition than you already are! If my ministry has really connected you with God, then you will hold onto him for dear life as you go through this change.”

Read about Wesley Seminary professor Lenny Luchetti’s four lessons for a successful transition at ,,, http://lennyluchetti.blogspot.com/2014/05/pastoral-resignation-what-to-do-on-your.html