The Healthy Church Staff Podcast

It's Not a Succession Plan if It's Not on Paper

February 23, 2024 Todd Rhoades Season 1 Episode 35
The Healthy Church Staff Podcast
It's Not a Succession Plan if It's Not on Paper
Show Notes Transcript

Ever found yourself at a crossroads, facing the inevitable yet daunting task of passing the church leadership baton? That's precisely the maze we navigate through with Todd Rhodes of chemistrystaffing.com in our latest podcast episode. Todd zeroes in on the significance of succession planning, a topic that strikes a chord with senior pastors pondering their next chapter, church board members bracing for a leadership handover, or any vigilant church staff member. With a focus on the necessity of a documented blueprint, he underscores how it anchors the health and continuity of a church's future.

In a candid conversation, Todd unravels the intricacies of drafting a succession plan that's not merely a notion, but a strategic map steering churches away from conflicts and potential fractures. He generously shares actionable steps to start sculpting such an essential document, reinforcing that succession should be seen not as a curtain call, but as a transformative juncture for the church. By aligning with the Healthy Church Staff podcast community, you're signing up for a wealth of knowledge designed to tackle routine church staff challenges with practical guidance and engaging discussions. So, gather your team, pastors, and board members around, and let’s collectively stride towards a harmonious and strategic future for your church.

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Speaker 1:

Hey, welcome to the Healthy Church Staff podcast.

Speaker 1:

My name is Todd Rhodes. I'm one of the co-founders over at chemistrystaffingcom, and one of the things that we deal with on a weekly basis at Chemistry Staffing is churches and pastors that reach out to us and say you know, it's about time that we need to start looking at a succession plan, and everyone always asks us our opinion. So I wanted to give you one thing today that I think is just really important. If you're a senior pastor and you're thinking about a succession plan, if you're a member of a church board and your pastor is getting near retirement and you're considering a succession plan, this is the one thing that I think is very important that many churches don't do. We'll talk about it here in a second, but I wanted to thank you for listening. We're here every day, every weekday, monday through Friday, for a five to 10 minute discussion on issues that I think, hopefully, will be interesting to you. As a church staff member Would encourage you, if you haven't already subscribed, go to wherever you're listening right now and subscribe to this Healthy Church Staff podcast. We get new viewers I don't think anybody's watching me right now, but new listeners almost every day that hear about us. So, if you like what you hear, subscribe. And if you like what you hear, share it with people on your team, share it with your pastors, share it with your staff, share it with your board members. Hopefully, they will really enjoy it as well.

Speaker 1:

Okay, we're talking about succession plans today, and I want to talk about the one thing that I see that many churches don't do when it comes to succession planning, and it's pretty simple. This isn't rocket surgery here. This is one thing that a lot of churches don't do, that you just have to do. It's not a succession plan if you don't do this one thing, I'm telling you, and it's pretty simple here it is it has to be on paper. It has to be on paper. A succession plan is not something you can wing, it's not something that you can have in your head and not on paper. So let me describe or define actually a succession plan. A succession plan is a comprehensive document that clarifies and clearly outlines the process of transitioning responsibilities, relationships and institutional knowledge to a successor when a senior pastor leaves a church. Okay, so this is important. It has to.

Speaker 1:

For a plan to be a plan, it has to be on paper. It's not just a plan. This is a vision. This is important stuff. This is a vision for continuity in your church and this plan the succession plan that's on paper will help you facilitate a seamless transition. It's going to save you from a comedy of errors and yesterday we talked about disagreements and conflicts. It's going to save you from a myriad of disagreements and conflicts and alienation and fragmentation.

Speaker 1:

I've seen it happen. I've seen it happen if the plan is not on paper, and even sometimes if it is on paper. But if it's not on paper, you don't know what you don't know and you just have to have those guidelines on paper so that everybody, all the different sides, all the different people, are on the same page. It's just a non-negotiable element. You have to document your succession plan. It has to be on paper. A plan is just a wish without the written commitment.

Speaker 1:

Having the succession plan on paper, it's going to do a few things. It's going to add legitimacy, it's going to create some clarity and it's going to provide direction. It will eliminate room for conjecture, it'll eliminate misunderstandings and here's the deal you don't even know what misunderstandings you're going to have. If you're winging it, you're going to be surprised at every misunderstanding you have. That's part of why you do a plan and why you put it on paper is because it gives you an opportunity to think through those areas where things might go off the rails a little bit. And, leslie, it's going to ensure that your whole staff, your whole team everyone that's a key player is on board.

Speaker 1:

What are some practical steps? If you're right at the beginning of this process, what are some things that you can do that's going to help you develop that plan? And the first thing is, if you're the pastor, succession is not the end. It's not the end for you. This is not the end. It's a new beginning that you're sculpting together with your team and it is not the end. It's a brand new chapter and it's going to be a great chapter for you. But that's part of the succession plan is helping to define what that looks like both for the church and for you.

Speaker 1:

A good succession plan is an inclusive approach. It's going to involve all the key stakeholders staff leaders, members, board members, search team members all need to be on the same page. This is the written succession plan is where you get to define clear roles and responsibilities. It's where you get to set out what you're looking for in your next pastor the qualifications and timelines. The timeline is really important. It's an important part of your succession plan.

Speaker 1:

When you write the plan, to take some time and contemplate, both on the outgoing pastor and the church and the incoming pastor, what that comprehensive time and make sure that it's enough for a gradual handover. So write it down. Written plan, unambiguous, ambiguous I always have a problem with that word. Make sure it's comprehensible, make sure it's executable as well. Your documented plan should be detailed, yet not so complicated that people don't understand it. It needs to be understood by all and it needs to contain explicit steps that you're planning on implementing when the time comes.

Speaker 1:

Now, once you write that down, will it change? Yeah, it probably will. This is going to be a living document, your succession plan. It's alive and it molds from time, molds over time and with needs, and you're going to, like I said, you don't know at the beginning of this process what you don't know. So you're going to learn throughout the process. But if you have your plan on paper, that allows, all of again, the key stakeholders to be able to know, okay, this is what we said we were going to do, but it doesn't look like we're going to hit that timeline or it looks like we need to adjust it here, so you can adjust it and you can update the document. That's better than not having anything and just again, we're going to wing it and we're going to even change the way that we're winging it. We're going to wing our wing in it. So, always, your document will allow for adjustments and external changes democratic demographics, mission vision absolutely you can change those.

Speaker 1:

But it's really important and that's the main issue I want to talk about today is if you're thinking about succession as a senior pastor or you're thinking about succession as a church leader and helping your senior pastor, it just it has to be written down. It's not a plan if it's not written down. A written succession plan battles, unforeseen challenges. You can amend it and you can essentially craft what this next chapter of life looks like for both the pastor and the church. It's all about ensuring that you pass the baton smoothly and that your church has really an uninterrupted journey towards its spiritual goals and the next chapter of ministry. Every pastor that I talk to that's thinking about retiring or thinking about moving on and wants to do a succession plan wants their church to succeed. Every church that I talk to whose senior pastor is getting ready to retire or move on and they're looking at a succession plan. They want their church to succeed. This succession plan writing it down is just the first step in making sure that everybody's on the same page and the chances of a great succession and a healthy succession go up monumentally when you have a good written plan.

Speaker 1:

Hey, if you don't know where to start, we have people on our team here at Chemistry Staffing that would love to sit down with you and they've got experience in writing succession plans and what to do and what not to do, what has worked at churches across the country, what has failed miserably at churches across the country. They can help you do that. I tell you what if you would love to find out a little bit more about succession plans and you just need to have a conversation with somebody, I would love to offer up, either myself or someone on our team. Just reach out to me at podcast at chemistrystaffingcom. Podcast at chemistrystaffingcom. Tell me, hey, we're getting ready for a succession and I'd love to talk with somebody about that. No obligation, we just love to be able to speak into that and if there's any way we can help. We would love to be able to do that. Alright, thanks so much, hey. I hope you have an absolutely wonderful weekend.

Speaker 1:

We will be back here on Monday and let me see what we're talking about here on Monday. You won't want to miss it. We're gonna talk on Monday about setting boundaries that stick. We're gonna talk about six strategies and then we're gonna talk about micromanagement next year. We're gonna talk about how to find new future leaders, how to identify them. We're gonna talk about hey, what are you doing? Your co-worker is underperforming. A lot of great topics next week coming up here on the Healthy Church Staff Podcast. If you haven't subscribed, go ahead and hit subscribe and we will see you back here next Monday. Have a great weekend.