This is the third in a series of four blog posts on the topic of catalysts for strategic planning in the local church.
A catalyst causes change or action. I am suggesting that there are some things that can trigger a change in a local church whereby it goes back to or maybe for the first time tries strategic planning. For each catalyst, I am also suggesting some assessment questions to help you see if this specific one is at work in your midst.
Catalyst #3: You likely have a Sr. or Lead Pastor succession on the horizon
At this writing, the oldest baby boomer is 68 years old and the average one is approaching 60 years of age. What that means is that the boomer generation has started to hand the church off to the next generation and that hand off will be continuing for the next 15 years or so. In my consulting, I have worked directly with two churches on preparations for and the implementation of Sr. Pastor transitions.
Some will stumble through the hand off. Because God is sovereign, we can have confidence that even with a stumbling transition, no matter how haphazard, it will always be superintended and used by Him for greater purposes. Conversely, others will strategically plan for it. For those who do, God will not only use the transition, He will be blessed by the greater effectiveness of the church because of it. So what is the difference? How will that happen? Here are 8ways that strategic planning can help facilitate a Lead Pastor transition:
· The church leadership team of the planning church will invite the new Sr. Pastor into the church that they want it to become, that fits their vision. (The alternative of expecting the new pastor to shape the vision is fraught with risk that he may not fit your vision).
· They will take into account the growth position and potential of the church and seek a fit of the gift-mix of the new Sr. Pastor with that potential church. For example, if the church has a growing staff, this has implications for the pastor and board’s governance posture and the required staff management skill set of the pastor.
· They will study a book or books that have been written or will soon be released on this topic.
· Some will use a pastoral succession and search consultant.
· They will strategically work though the type of transition they will pursue (in-house, mentorship, or fresh start to name a few).
· They will prepare themselves, paid staff and the congregation for the transition.
· They will be ahead of the transition versus playing catchup.
· They will make this a win-win-win for the church, the departing pastor, and the new pastor.
1 a. What is the likely transition time of our current Sr. or Lead Pastor? This may be retirement
or transition to a new form of ministry.
2 b. Do we want the new Lead Pastor to bring the vision to us and hope we agree with it, or do
we have a vision that we want to strategically pursue finding a pastor who is a fit for it?
3 c. How much do we know about alternative approaches to Sr. Pastor transitions?
4 d. Should the gift-mix of the new Sr. pastor be different than that of the current pastor? Why?
Is there a list of factors that will introduce changes to the job description of the next Sr. Pastor?
5 e. Is there an obvious in-house successor? If so, does it make sense to test and bless that before
the existing pastor transitions out? If not, what is our plan?