General InterestSuccession

How Ready Are You for Succession?

By May 30, 2019 No Comments

Leadership Network has been a pioneer in helping church leaders pass the leadership baton to a new generation.

Almost 20 years ago, a pioneering Leadership Network book gave thought leadership, inviting greater discussion to begin. It was aptly named Elephant in the Boardroom: Speaking the Unspoken about Pastoral Transitions. More recently, I conducted surveys for Leadership Network, sadly documenting on how few church leaders had gone so far as to develop a succession plan. I summarized what we learned in a Leadership Network report named “Succession Readiness.” I also used the Leadership Network database of large-church lead pastors to calculate an average age (see graphic below). Just as the US population is aging, so also are large-church pastors.

The most-quoted statement in the book Next: Pastoral Succession that Works by William Vanderbloemen and myself, is this: “Every pastor is an interim pastor.” The idea is that no matter how long we’re privileged to serve in leadership, someone else will follow us. And just as our Lord Jesus himself placed a huge emphasis of time and energy on preparing those who follow him, wise leaders will do likewise. The case-study based book, drawing from more than 200 interviews, zeroes in on how to do pastoral succession well. Leadership Network addresses this and other issues in its Leadership Development Accelerator. Check it out.

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Warren Bird

Author Warren Bird

Warren Bird, Ph.D. has been named a Leadership Network Senior Fellow in light of his exemplary service 2006-2018 as Director of Research and Intellectual Capital Development at Leadership Network. He serves as full-time VP of Research for (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). An ordained minister with background as both a pastor and seminary professor, Warren is an award-winning author or co-author of 31 books for ministry leaders including Hero Maker with Dave Ferguson, How to Break Church Growth Barriers with Carl George, and Next: Pastoral Succession that Works with William Vanderbloemen. Other recent titles are Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work with Jim Tomberlin, and Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller. Some of Warren’s recent online reports include "Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard," and "The Heartbeat of Rising Influence Churches." See also research reports at and He is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading researchers of megachurches, multisite churches, large church compensation and high-visibility pastoral succession. He also oversees the world's only active, sortable list of global megachurches. Follow him on Twitter @warrenbird.  Click here to subscribe to Leadership Network Advance to get updates from Leadership Network.

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