Next is written by two Christian men, one being the research director for Leadership Network and the other the founder of the Vanderbloeman Search Group which connects churches and ministries with the right leadership. The big idea is that every church and pastor needs a succession plan. Much of the book is taken up with stories of succession successes and failures. While the authors claim to examine about 200 pastoral succession case studies (p. 9) from churches of all sizes (p. 14), the reality is that most of the stories concern megachurches and high-profile pastors. Success is also consistently measured by numerical size and growth, no matter how that is attained. Additionally, pastors of every stripe are showcased, from Joel Osteen to Paula White, Jeremiah Wright, W.A. Criswell, and Robert Schuller. The type and size of the churches mentioned greatly diminish the value of the book, in my opinion. Eighty percent of all churches are under 150 in attendance with little money. They are not multi-staffed and have few capable lay leaders. This volume has little to offer such churches and their pastors.
The stories, however, are interesting. If you are a reader of Leadership magazine or books with similar focus, this approach will be familiar. But when all the dust has settled little help has been provided. However, to be fair, there are some practical insights concerning costs of transitions (pp. 157-164), writing a separation agreement (p. 161), and the valuable role played by the former pastor in the success of his replacement (pp. 169-173).
Read for the stories and the correct encouragement to plan for the future.
Next, Pastoral Succession That Works by Willam Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2015) 224 pp., paper, $12.00
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel