Innovative Ministry
Why I Won’t Be The Lead Pastor At Cornerstone Any More – But I'm Not Leaving
Pastoral transition is one of the most dangerous times in a congregation’s life. We need to get better at it.

Over the last 25 years Cornerstone has needed the kind of leadership that matches my gifting and calling. But about three years ago, I saw a shift happening. When assessing the church’s challenges and needs, I started noticing that many of those needs were met best, not by the gifts God had given me, but by the gifts he’d given to my associate pastor.

So I went to him, outlined the church’s needs, told him I needed his help and we worked together to get the job done. It worked great, and we thought that would be our new normal.

Neither of us ever dreamed he would become the lead pastor. He had never wanted the position and I had no desire to leave it.

But this arrangement no longer makes sense for us. His ideas need to come to the foreground, and having to filter them through me is an extra step that slows everything down.

We need to change our roles to meet the church’s current situation.

We need to change our roles to meet the church’s current situation.

It’s Gary’s turn to lead now. But it’s not my time to leave yet. I doubt that it will be for a loooong time to come.

It’s not time for me to go, but it’s definitely time for me to let go.

For 25 years, Gary Garcia has supported me while we’ve served this church together. Now it’s my turn to support him.

What Now?

Pastoral succession has been, and will continue to be one of the most critical issues in church leadership. Anyone who does it well or discovers a new way to do it needs to share what they learn with others.

So, along with a ton of other ideas I have in the pipeline for future blog posts (and my new book, Small Church Essentials, coming in March 2018), I’ll write about this transition as we walk through it.

This pastoral transition is the most important thing I will ever do for this church. If it works as well as I expect, it will give our church a new lease on life, a chance to build on a solid foundation, and an opportunity to set a course for effective ministry for generations to come.

As we walk through this in the coming weeks and months, I’ll share the lessons we learn, the mistakes we stumble through, the ideas that work, and the progress we make.

The church is bigger than us. So is the pastorate. We need to wear it well, hold it lightly, and pass it along graciously.

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January 22, 2018 at 2:00 AM

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