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Friday, 30 March 2012

leadership succession in new start or pioneer churches

some tips are listed below.  these are summarised and taken from an excellent  winter 2011/12 leadership succession research bulletin by the church army  - and in particular the contributions of Claire Dalpra, Tony Thompson, Stuart Murray-Williams, George Lings, Beth Keith in that.  this and other church army research bulletins may be found here 

funding and short termism and its effects
- short term funding often leads to short term thinking and last minute decision making as the end of the funding window looms. developing financial sustainability helps encourage longer term planning.
- identify at the start when the right time might be for a planting team primarily gifted at initiating new ventures (rather than sustaining and developing them) to move on, and what kind of leadership might be needed in the next phase.
- identify and explore the issues summarised in this post at the outset of a church planting initiative and try to agree then on how leadership succession will be addressed – even if only at the level of principals

highly contextual churches
- bringing in new leaders is more difficult the more contextual a church is (due to the uniqueness of faith and practice which such contextual churches have).
- so whatever stage of development your church is at  - try to articulate its values so others coming in can understand such.
- a monastic pattern of electing a new leader from within the existing church membership, who knows and lives the values of the community, may be the best solution.
- remember the goal of church planting is for the christian community that emerges to be deeply rooted in its local context and shaped by members of that locality.  this may mean the church turns out differently from what was envisioned, which can be a cause of tension.
- young churches too dependent on the ministry gifts, time and coordinating skills of a founding leader often find it hard to survive their departure,  for this reason planting teams are often preferable to lone pioneers.

the effect of traditions and denominations
- the assumption that leadership succession is one person handing over to another isn’t always the way forward.  a multiplying leadership model might be more appropriate with teams of mutually accountable publicly recognised leaders joined together in relationship, trust and friendship.
- leadership models that require leaders to gain experience and training elsewhere should be weighed versus the risk of indigenous leaders being lost in such as they are burdened with unreasonable expectations.
- in traditions or denominations in which certain activities are restricted to ordained and accredited leaders encourage reflection on the validity and missional impact of such restrictions.

indigenous leaders
- prioritise the identification, nurture and empowerment of potential indigenous leaders, devoting considerable time to this activity.  and don’t rush the process.
- think through when a new church should appoint its own indigenous leaders who are no longer under the supervision of the sending church or what will happen if mother church expectations change.
- leadership in the spare time of a few committed people creates in some cases a stable transition between leaders as it is n’t dependent on one paid leader and so does n’t go through such a big transition when the leader moves on.  in other cases because the spare time leadership is so demanding it can be very difficult to encourage new leaders.

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