Let me ask you a question that is on the heart of a lot of leaders…
What does a succession plan look like?
Many pastors and leaders do not understand how to answer this question, so they never even try. We must put an end to that!
While researching the topic of succession planning, I noticed something interesting. Even though every situation is functionally different, the principles that govern the succession planning process seem to be the same. I refer to these areas as “Signposts.” Churches that navigate these “Signposts” well tend to have healthier transitions. Churches that do not account for these areas tend to have problems with their transitions.
Before outlining the areas below, I want to be clear about something. These are not intended to be a prescriptive solution. Succession Planning is not an “A + B = C” kind of process. These “Signposts” are better understood as principles to follow. They will help you understand the questions you should be wrestling with.
Signpost 1 – The Pisgah Moment
It was on Pisgah that Moses was confronted with the necessity of succession planning. It wasn’t that he simply acknowledged how important of a topic it was. Preparing Joshua literally became his new focus.
Signpost 2 – Build the Right Teams
There are two categories of teams that need to be considered in the succession planning process: formal team(s) and informal team(s).
The Formal Team(s) are determined by governance documents and/or denominational structure. Informal Team(s) are made up of friends and family.
A word of caution:These “teams” are filled with people that will need time to experience their own Pisgah Moment. If you have the time to give, give it.
Signpost 3 – Find Your Replacement
This really needs no explanation, but let me offer a word of warning. Replacement Planning is not Succession Planning! Replacement Planning is one piece of the overall picture. Too many leaders get sidetracked because they start here, not having effectively navigated Signposts 1 and 2.
Signpost 4 – Transition Authority
Identifying a successor is not enough. Successful succession plans include a clear roadmap for how to bring the new Pastor (and his family!!) on board.
Signpost 5 – Exit Well
Three things need to be considered here. First, give people sufficient opportunity to say goodbye. Second, the church needs to see the retiring pastor “transition” his authority. Third, leave. The new guy needs time without you looking over his shoulder. If you desire to stay at the church in your retirement years, I would recommend being gone for at least a year.
I hope you found these areas helpful. Let us know what specific questions you need help with. We would be glad to help. You can contact us by clicking HERE.
You may also be interested in attending one of our Monday Morning Coffee Talks. This is a half-day seminar on the topic of succession planning. For information on these upcoming events you can click the link below.
Monday Morning Coffee Talks information – click HERE