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Pastoral Succession That Works

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Every pastor is an interim pastor. Every church and ministry goes through changes in leadership. Despite this truth, few churches are planning ahead for the day they will face a transition in leadership, and far too many handoffs in leadership end with a dropped ball. But the outcome doesn't have to be that way.

What if when a pastor moved on, the church knew exactly what to do because a plan and a process had been in place for some time?

While there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to the puzzle of planning for a seamless pastoral succession, Next offers church leaders and pastors a guide to asking the right questions in order to plan for the future. Vanderbloemen, founder of a leading pastoral search firm, and Bird, an award-winning writer and researcher, share insider stories of succession failures and successes in dozens of churches, including some of the nation's most influential. Through case studies, interviews, and real-time research, the authors demystify successful pastoral succession and help you prepare for an even brighter future for your ministry.


When it's time for a new pastor, will your church be ready?

"I pray this book sells a million copies! My dad used to tell me this too: 'All pastors are interim pastors.' We're stewards, not owners. We're only here for a blip in time, but the church goes on forever."--Rick Warren, founding pastor, Saddleback Church

"Every pastor will face a transition at their church, and it will be one of their best chances at leaving a legacy. Next is an invaluable tool for securing a transition that works and a legacy that lasts."--Bill Hybels, senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

"Wisdom around pastoral succession is one of the great needs of the church today, so it's about time this book showed up. I have already sent a copy to several of the elders at my church."--from the foreword by John Ortberg, author; former teaching pastor at Willow Creek and pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, CA

"In the kingdom of God, success equals succession--looking for a successor all the time. Next shows pastors how to do that for themselves, and how to model succession for their staff and volunteer leaders."--Mark Batterson, founding pastor of National Community Church, Washington, DC

"Someone said that the moment you succeed, you need to prepare for your successor to succeed. The church has too often failed in this critical mission. I believe this book to be one of the most timely and important of our day."--Jim Henry, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Orlando, FL

"This book is incredibly rich with good advice. Even a simple pastoral handoff like I experienced, from my father-in-law to me, could benefit from the wise insights and great stories."--Wilfredo "Choco" de Jesus, lead pastor of New Life Covenant Church, Chicago, IL

"Vanderbloemen and Bird are giving leaders permission to ask formerly forbidden questions now so that churches can thrive rather than limp through inevitable pastoral transitions."--Marnie Crumpler, executive pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, GA


William Vanderbloemen (MDiv, Princeton Theological Seminary) served for fifteen years as a pastor before founding Vanderbloemen Search Group, the leading search firm specifically focused on connecting churches and ministries with the right leadership for their teams. He and his wife, Adrienne, live in Houston with their seven children and two poodles.

Warren Bird
(PhD, Fordham University) is research director for Leadership Network, the nation's leading catalyst for helping innovative church leaders move from ideas to impact. An ordained minister, he teaches at Alliance Theological Seminary. He is also author or coauthor of twenty-six books. He and his wife, Michelle, live in a suburb of New York City.


Endorsements

"I pray this book sells a million copies! My dad used to tell me this too: 'All pastors are interim pastors.' We're stewards, not owners. We're only here for a blip in time, but the church goes on forever."

Rick Warren, founding pastor, Saddleback Church

"Every pastor will face a transition at their church, and it will be one of their best chances at leaving a legacy. Next is an invaluable tool for securing a transition that works and a legacy that lasts."

Bill Hybels, senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

"Wisdom around pastoral succession is one of the great needs of the church today, so it's about time this book showed up. I have already sent a copy to several of the elders at my church."

from the foreword by John Ortberg, author; former teaching pastor at Willow Creek and pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, CA

"Someone said that the moment you succeed, you need to prepare for your successor to succeed. The church has too often failed in this critical mission. I believe this book to be one of the most timely and important of our day. If I could state it more urgently or enthusiastically, I would!"

Jim Henry, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Orlando, FL

"This book is incredibly rich with good advice. Even a simple pastoral handoff like I experienced, from my father-in-law to me, could benefit from the wise insights and great stories my friends William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird have inked."

Wilfredo "Choco" de Jesus, lead pastor of New Life Covenant Church, Chicago, IL

"Vanderbloemen and Bird are giving leaders permission to ask formerly forbidden questions now so that churches can thrive rather than limp through inevitable pastoral transitions."

Marnie Crumpler, executive pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, GA

"In the kingdom of God, success equals succession--looking for a successor all the time. Next shows pastors how to do that for themselves, and how to model succession for their staff and volunteer leaders."

Mark Batterson, founding pastor of National Community Church, Washington, DC

"This is a great book. It should have been written years ago."

Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University; leading historian of "great churches" of recent centuries

"Senior pastor succession is the big elephant in the church boardroom, and it is at last coming out of the closet. We will see more senior pastors coming from campus pastors and through church mergers in the next decade. This book describes every imaginable type of succession and encourages everyone how to start preparing now."

Jim Tomberlin, founder of MultiSite Solutions; coauthor of Better Together

"Just a few sunrises ago, the church was in someone else's hands. In just a few sunsets, another generation will lead. May we be gracious, skillful, and intentional toward a very good handoff."

John Stumbo, former pastor; president of The Christian and Missionary Alliance

"Too many churches are in crisis--or headed toward it--because we have not learned to think long range. The need is nothing short of a paradigm shift in leadership development. This excellent book rightly helps move these discussions to the front burner."

Edmund Chan, leading Singapore pastor and ministry coach

"This book is an absolute necessity. Far too little has been written on the process of pastoral transitions."

Scott Thumma, professor, Hartford Seminary; lead researcher, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford, CT

"Change is always hard, especially when you are at the center of it. That's probably one of the reasons that so few pastors think about how they will transition the leadership of their church to the next generation. Next will kick-start your thinking and give you some practical steps on how to transition well."

Greg Surratt, senior pastor of Seacoast Church; author of Ir-Rev-Rend

"Every church leader needs to read Next. It is a must-read--whether pastor or board member--because every church will need to face this pressing issue. This tremendous work is a 'Who's Who' of the church world, full of real-life facts and lessons learned."

David Fletcher, founder of XPastor.org; executive pastor, EvFree Fullerton, CA


The Authors

  1. William Vanderbloemen

    William Vanderbloemen

    William Vanderbloemen (MDiv, Princeton Theological Seminary) served for fifteen years as a pastor before founding Vanderbloemen Search Group, the leading search firm specifically focused on connecting churches and ministries with the right leadership for their...

    Continue reading about William Vanderbloemen

  2. Warren Bird

    Warren Bird

    Warren Bird is research director for Leadership Network, the nation's leading catalyst for helping innovative church leaders move from ideas to impact. An ordained minister, he teaches at Alliance Theological Seminary. He is also author or coauthor of...

    Continue reading about Warren Bird


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