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3 Tips for a Successful Church Leadership Transition

Sometimes, church leadership transition is unpredictable. Other times, it is inevitable. Regardless, a transition of this caliber can be anticipated long before it occurs. Before you prepare for change in your church leadership, you must first anticipate that a transition will eventually happen. Planting the seed of change early is a great way to address concerns within your congregation before they surface. After all, the members of the church set the stage for the new church leader to thrive!

1. Anticipate the church leadership transition

Before you prematurely shout from the rooftops that change might be on the horizon for your church’s leadership, take a step back. Consider drafting a checklist of tasks that ought to be taken care of in the case of a transition. Will you bring on someone to fill an interim position or begin the search for someone permanent right away? Can you quickly disconnect passwords or deactivate accounts of the person departing and transition it to someone new? Is there knowledge or experience that is difficult to write down, and if so, how can you keep a record of it?

If the answers to any of these questions are unclear, start anticipating the transition now. The task if preparing for a transition might seem daunting, but it’s better to be somewhat prepared than not prepared at all. If bringing up the idea of a transition plan sparks fear or uncertainty in your leadership team, don’t fret. Assure them that anticipating change is always in your church’s best interest.

2. Prepare for the transition

Your pastor of 20 years has decided to part ways with the church. No one saw this coming, and you have just one month to prepare and execute your transition plan. Luckily, you’ve anticipated the transition long before now. Preparing for change doesn’t have to be difficult, but it must be done well. Why? For one, your pastor deserves a sendoff just as organized and thoughtful as their onboarding. Another reason for a proper transition is to respect the loyalty of your congregation.

Most people would rather avoid any type of change – it’s human nature. The way you as a church leader handles the transition in leadership makes all the difference. Prepare your congregation for change by sharing with them that a transition will happen and why. People need to know why change is occurring for two reasons. One, stating a reason for change discourages rumors from filling in information gaps. Two, it shows your congregation that you respect their interest in the church’s future.

3. Ask for input on how it went

Your church members are likely the loudest voices you’ll hear during a leadership transition. Ignoring those voices will lead to frustration and possibly a difficult road ahead for the new church leader coming onboard. Keep negative emotions at bay by listening to and asking for input from the congregation. Do they have suggestions for a replacement in the interim? Can they volunteer for a back-office role that has become available? Are there changes they’d like to see in the church moving forward? All of these questions and more can be best answered by the worshipers who attend church each Sunday. They will set the tone for the next church leader. Listen to their wishes – they’ll inform your decisions during the transition.

The transition of church leadership doesn’t have to be painful. Simply anticipating the transition, preparing for the transition, and asking for input on the transition can smooth things over. Givelify makes transitioning leadership positions easy! Bank accounts changes, account owner updates, and more Givelify updates can be made easily and quickly. To update your Givelify account in just a few minutes, visit our support website.

Is your church in the process of a transition?

We can help you reconcile gifts easily, track donors, and integrate with your church management system so you can spend more time welcoming positive change within your organization.

About the Author

Basha Coleman