Pastoral Transitions — Preparing the Way for Your Successor

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Below are some of the best practices related to pastoral transition suggested by several hundred pastors and denominational leaders.

Spend quality time with your successor with an agreed upon agenda. Invite the new pastor to visit and ask what types of information would be most useful so you can prepare for the meeting.

Maintain good successor relations.

  • Prepare the way for the successor with the congregation so that the entry is as smooth as can be.
  • Prepare the way for the congregation with the successor so the new pastor starts with a hopeful stance toward the new context.
  • Spend quality time with your successor with an agreed upon agenda. Invite the new pastor to visit and ask what types of information would be most useful so you can prepare for the meeting.
  • Talk about your successor only in positive terms.
  • Do not make comparisons between yourself and your successor.

Provide good records and administrative wrap-up.

  • Prepare essential lists for your successor such as pending pastoral care situations, hospital lists, prospective members most likely to join in the near future, etc.
  • Make sure important files are up to date and that the latest pertinent reports are easily available.
  • Make sure church bills are paid through the month you leave.
  • Make sure denominational apportionments are paid through the month you leave.
  • Be sure to pay all personal bills in the community.
  • Do not take church records with you.

Leave the parsonage and office clean and in order.

Keep working.

  • Continue vital ministry and avoid emotional withdrawal. The church deserves a full-time and engaged pastor until the end.
  • Settle as many hanging issues and staff difficulties as possible rather than passing them on. You are in a better position to deal with such matters than the new pastor will be for quite some time.
  • Do not initiate major new programs in the closing months that you cannot see through before leaving.

 

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About Author

Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., is senior consultant at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, distinguished professor of church leadership emeritus at Wesley Theological Seminary, and author of several books on leadership.


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