succession question

One of the big topics in Christiany circles lately is succession planning for the senior minister. The pastors of most big churches (and a lot of smaller ones) are talking about it, and Leadership Network recently held an online conference on the topic. It’s a big deal to a lot of people right now. And I’m wondering if it should be.

I doubt my wonderings because I couldn’t have more respect for some of the pastors and elders who are grappling with this issue. But I’m not questioning whether our current models need succession planning; companies churches with thousands of members and millions of dollars at stake do need to plan for the next CEO pastor. I’m questioning the assumptions behind having that model in the first place.  If we didn’t make our churches so senior pastor-centric, would it be so jarring to have a change of leadership? If instead of a CEO model the church was based on a team approach, in which leadership is delegated broadly and more is expected of members, would it be so stressful to replace one person? And, um, isn’t that model more biblical anyway?

But there must be a ton I’m missing because so few people seem to be thinking this way. So let me know what it is–comment away, everyone.

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4 thoughts on “succession question

  1. I think lots of people are questioning the corporate model of church, but there are far more people promoting the status quo because the system as it exists now is producing favorable results.

    Of course, the results of the Western institutional church are only marginally aligned with the Kingdom of God, but that matters very little compared to leading a growing church.

  2. Tony and Felicity Dale have written quite a bit about alternative church forms. “The Rabbit and the Elephant” is a quick read that sheds light on church movements happening outside of the West.

  3. Ohhhh. One of my fav topics … like the Pied Piper seducing
    me with her tune. Have you read The Starfish and the Spider? It is on
    the concept of a decentralization of organizations and their stability
    (invulnerability) in spite of ‘no head’, or president, or CEO (authors
    refer to AA or Annonymous groups, wikipedia, craigslist, ebay–a hybrid
    model, and even the success of Al-Quaeda. There are current
    decentralized organizations functioning successfully, or at least toying
    with the idea of some sort of hybrid decentralized model. Rather than a
    central head, these orgs rely on the inspiring idea of a few
    visionaries to shape the idea and then gather a community around that
    idea. The committed community naturally desires to contributes to, work
    for, sacrifices for the compelling idea, and thus passes the idea on to
    others. The key factor, however, is whether or not the compelling idea
    to be compelling as it is passed on to subsequent generations …..
    If we want to talk in church language, what does it look like for a
    committed community of disciples gathered around the directing idea
    called the gospel, all contributing according to their giftedness, but
    no one functions as the final decision maker (i.e. no one person is
    wearing the pants in the church family)? Can that be a place called the
    church? Or does there need to be a ‘head’?

    I like your
    strategic crossing out of words. 😉 You hit one of my peeves about
    churches in the past 40 years that have (unquestioningly, it seems)
    taken on a CEO-corporate model and called it the church that is for the
    glory of [the one who empty himself of position, power, and status]
    Jesus. I am all for borrowing models from the world, but in those models
    if we don’t attempt to caulk up the ethical leaks inherent in
    hierarchical structures and the power pitfalls of modern corporations
    where efficiency and the bottom line (nickles and noses and dazzingly
    fab youth programs) disregard the means, then perhaps we’ve borrowed the
    wrong model.

    I’m with you, Jen. Time to rethink the corporate model.

  4. Well Jenn as you stated, a team approach (a plurality of elders) is the biblical model. Why are the most simple things the one we struggle over the most? In your opening you hit the head of the problem. “Senior Minister” is no where found in scripture. A plurality of elders equiping the saints certainly is and is not as vulnerable when adding a man or replacing a man who has moved on

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