The church where I serve, Karura Community Chapel, was recently accredited by the African Council for Accreditation and Accountability (AfCAA). As a member of the peer accountability group serving pan-Africa, we received an invitation to the GTP webinar entitled “Succession Planning for Sustainability,” which I attended on 28 August 2020.
I loved it. I found the whole webinar enriching, all of it. It was particularly relevant for our church because we are in a season of transition. Firstly, church governance is changing. It has become more complicated as a result of several factors: growth at the central church, the planting of a number of daughter/branch churches, and now the unanticipated changes and new opportunities for ministry as a result of the current pandemic.
Secondly, our people are moving on. We had been preparing for the shift of the founding senior pastor (me) from the executive leadership of the church to a more nebulous 'oversight' of a network, but that remains unclear. In addition to that, some of our most senior elders are due to retire from the board.
As the person preparing to step back and out as the church's 'CEO,' the section on a biblical view of the responsibilities of the CEO in succession planning was directly relevant for me. But I also particularly liked the discussion on a biblical view of the board and succession from Numbers 8:23-26: doing our duties for a season, being ready to step back from active duty to a support role, and 'assisting and keeping guard.'
After attending the webinar and getting the link to the recording, our board chair and I recommended that the rest of the elder board watch it, with specific attention to the Governance Committee as they are considering these succession issues. It provided insights that clarified some of the topics we need to tackle.
Furthermore, I downloaded many of the free tools and templates from the GTP website. We are working through them over time to raise our effectiveness and institutionalise best practices for the board. Specifically, these tools will help us lay a foundation for succession planning into the future. While we haven't been able to do as much as we had hoped as re-engaging in this new normal has required a great deal of leadership time and energy, we are truly better equipped as we plan the way forward.
The difference is that now we have confidence and clarity. The GTP training has enabled me to see more clearly the way forward and my responsibility in it. It also gives the entire Board a clear, biblically founded pathway that will help us in discerning God’s direction for us together.
What our church is experiencing with regard to succession planning is not unique. Many other churches struggle in matters of governance, and succession can sometimes be particularly messy. As we apply what we learn, we will undoubtedly face challenges. But I envision deeper discernment and intentional discipleship that will engage the next generation. I believe God’s design for succession can result in better leadership continuity and transitions, and in turn, more effective churches and Christian-led organisations to the glory of God.