Helping Your Successor Succeed
Every recently arrived pastor feels the presence of the preceding minister. This can be a positive or a negative feeling. A pastor leaving a church can provide several categories of information to make sure his or her legacy is a positive one
The membership roll should be up to date. It should include:
• Name of each member
• Current address
• Date of membership
• Method of membership (baptism, confirmation, transfer, or reinstatement)
In several denominations these records are kept by a lay volunteer. In most large congregations membership records are maintained by a paid staff member. Nevertheless, the departing minister should check to be sure that the membership roster is in order. A constituent roster should include persons who identify with the congregation but are not carried on the membership roll. This list may be nearly as long as the membership roster.
If a picture directory has been prepared, a copy of the two most recent editions should be given to the new minister. A list of shut-ins and others who need special attention from the pastor should be available. In many respects, the most valuable list of names a predecessor can leave behind is that of prospective new members, but too often it is carried in the pastor's head, and no written record exists.
The new minister will be grateful for a roster of all leaders and workers. It should include a list of all officers and also a list of Sunday school teachers, ushers, and others with special responsibilities. As a general rule, charter members expect a little extra deference, so if today's membership roll includes any charter members, their status should be noted.
If a new building has been constructed during the past several years, the successor will find it useful to receive a list of the names of the persons on the building committee. One reason this group deserves special attention is the widespread tendency for one or more members of the building committee to drop into inactivity after completion of construction. The new minister may be in a position to reactivate those former leaders by means of some active listening.
These ten financial records should be made available to the incoming minister:
• Last year's budget
• This year's budget
• Proposed budget for next year
• Financial statement for last year
• Financial statement for year to date
• Amount and repayment schedule of any current indebtedness, including accumulated unpaid bills
• Total expenditures on a year-by-year basis for the past twelve years
• Total receipts from member giving (excluding loans, rentals, etc.) for each of the past twelve years
• Amount given by each of the top twenty contributors last year (without names attached to the dollar figures)
• Sources of all benevolence giving, including special offerings, designated gifts, and budgeted items. The attendance records should include:
• Average attendance at Sunday morning worship for each of the past twelve years