“Every pastor is an interim pastor.”
Though I still have several years of ministry left before retirement/semi-retirement/whatever it is called these days becomes a reality for me, it is something that I think about more and more these days. William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird’s new book, published by Baker Books, NEXT: Pastoral Succession That Works, has provided some very helpful guidelines and suggestions as to the process of pastoral succession and ways to insure (hopefully) that when I do move on, from my present congregation and any other congregation I might serve in the future, it will be a helpful transition for the benefit of both the congregation and my successor.
NEXT is also a helpful book when it comes to other kinds of transitional and successional moments in congregational and pastoral life as well. For example, what happens if a pastor is suddenly ill and incapacitated for a period of time? What are the steps, already in place or need to be in place, to help the congregation maintain pastoral ministry and leadership? These kinds of sudden changes are ones that pastors, as well as congregations, often fail to consider.
A major strength of this book is that it combines a love of the ministry and the church with some solid research, some of which is detailed in several appendices that provided, for me at least, a surprising view of pastoral tenure across a wide range of denominations. I also found helpful and insightful their comments and stories about the effect of transitions on pastors’ wives and families and the potential for conflict to be a very real thing.
I personally resonated with chapter 12, Unintentional Interim, and chapter 14, Where to Find A Successor, as they dealt with the issue of following a popular pastor and what the options are regarding pastoral staff who stay through pastoral successions. I observed and experienced both situations as a staff pastor.
Vanderbloemen and Bird have given pastors, their families, and congregations a very helpful resource to help in navigating the very important transition of pastoral succession. I hope that they will continue to add to this good book in the years ahead.
On my review rating scale, I rate NEXT, an ‘outstanding’ read.
Note: I was given a copy of the book from its publisher, Baker Books, via their book bloggers program in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.