Succession Planning and Management
Having been the incumbent Senior Pastor of Kenmore Baptist Church since 1989, I’ve had the privilege of leading the church through a significant period of growth, development, and influence. Now, the time is approaching when leadership has to be handed over to a younger more contemporary pastor, meaning succession planning and management has consumed much of my thinking in recent years.
“What would need to be done to create a ‘seamless’ Senior Pastor succession?”
“In a church that is led and managed along apostolic lines but governed congregationally how could we prepare for senior leadership transition in a way that would preserve our culture and integrity?”
My thinking was further challenged and deepened, when two years ago at our annual “Organizational Health” staff retreat led by Dr Peter Stebbins and Dr
The initial reaction was one of shock with a number of people either feeling somewhat threatened in their position or feeling that such a plan was totally unnecessary. It was clear both from my unsuccessful approaches to Elders to talk seriously about my succession, and from staff reaction to the challenge put to them, that succession planning and management is the proverbial “elephant in the room” – the unspoken issue that is probably second in importance behind leadership development and discipleship.
If everything rises or falls on leadership, then ensuring the right people in leadership is critical to the health, growth and development of the local church.
In any organization including churches, people in leadership positions eventually cease to fulfil their current role. This can happen for a number of reasons, from promotion within the organization, outgrowing the role or the role demanding more than the incumbent can deliver, change to part-time arrangements for better work-life balance, voluntary departure to seek other employment or career path, involuntary departure for a variety of reasons, retirement, serious illness, or death.
Any organization or church that fails to plan for the timely and effective filling of such leadership roles can be caught off guard, with the consequent disruption to their normal business or ministry, and a significant loss in market share or congregation. Therefore succession planning and management is a critical leadership and management function.
Succession planning then is the pre-emptive process of identifying significant leadership positions that could put the organization or church at risk if left unfilled, targeting current staff that could move into such roles, and grooming them for succession.
Kenmore Baptist Church Brisbane
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