Leadership Succession Planning for Churches

When a for-profit business owner plans for succession, the business owner usually determines how much the business is worth, and considers arrangements such as cross-purchase agreements and entity-purchase agreements. Succession planning for churches is much, much different. Moreover, as illustrated by recent news stories and court proceedings about a mega-church’s failure to plan for succession before the death of one of its founding pastors, the failure to plan for succession in churches can have enormously negative consequences. The most negative consequences, of course, are the destruction of the church itself and the collateral damage to its members and the community that it serves.

In addition to considering all of the financial issues, churches should ask fundamental questions such as: (1) how can the church transfer the trust that the members and community have in the present leadership?; (2) How can the church transfer the respect that the members and community have in the present leadership; (3) how can the church transfer the goodwill that the church has built up with its members and the community?

The present leadership of the church must be committed to a leadership succession plan. After commitment comes recruitment, development and selection of future leaders. Future leaders must then be allowed to earn the trust, respect and goodwill of the church’s members and the community. Once the leadership succession plan is in place, it must be communicated effectively. And, at some point, future leaders of the church must be allowed to be the present leaders of the church—before it is too late.

Do you have a leadership succession plan for your church?

For more information or for a consultation regarding your legal issues, please contact McCollum & Associates, LLC, at (301) 864-6070 or jmccollum@jmlaw.net.

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