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Transitioning Process


Larry Russo

Harvest Church, LA

Angie and I had the privilege of hosting a meeting at our home in Louisiana, led by Bro. Keith Tucci. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and teach us about transitioning our church to a new pastor--to pass the baton, so to speak. A quote that stood out about this was:

“A trophy you keep; a baton you hand off.”

In my mind, the meeting could be broken down to two things:

  1. The Plan

  2. The Man

Even if you have not identified “the man” to replace you, you need to have “the plan” in place to make it happen.

Bro. Keith shared with a group of five pastors and their wives that the plan for transition is just as important as the man who will replace you. He used the analogy of a relay race where there are four runners, each passing the baton to the other.

Here are some takeaways that I gleaned from the meeting:

  • You must be deliberate about transition. Therefore, we must have a plan (passing the baton). It won’t just happen without a plan in place.

  • Timing is crucial for transition to happen. He talked about the acceleration mode, which is called the hand-off zone, is a 98 foot span of distance where the exchange of the baton takes place. This means you cannot be too soon or too late in the exchange--it has to be perfect timing. In the acceleration mode, both men are running at full speed when the transfer of the baton is made to the next man up.

  • There must be a time of preparation. Bro Keith taught us in every transition there are three entities that have to be prepared: 1) The pastor, 2) the church body, and 3) your successor/new pastor. We must do all we can to prepare all three.

  • There must be a clean hand-off. Dropping the baton will disqualify you from winning the race.

  • Identify those (in house) who are involved in decision making in your church (e.g., elders, leadership, directors, or whatever you call those who make decisions). Making sure the leadership is on board is very important. This will take communicating the transition process to them first.

  • Make sure your presbyters are aware and involved in this process. It will help the body to know that your presbyters are giving oversight when the transition finally takes place.

  • Set a financial plan in place now. Bro. Keith suggested opening a “future fund” savings account that will help with the transition expenses.

My wife Angie had this comment about the meeting, “It is comforting to know that when the time comes, our presbytery and our leadership will be there for us and we will not be alone through this process.

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