We are all passing on something. The question is, “What are you passing on?” How do we empower the church to address issues of transition, sustainability, readiness, and preparedness?
It is urgent that churches be good stewards of time, talent and treasure and engage in succession planning. I understand succession planning to be preparing for our bright future in Jesus Christ by intentionally investing resources in that which is core to the functioning of a church so that the church can thrive and flourish in various stages of its lifecycle.
The end result or the hoped for outcome of succession planning is a well-organized, endowed and equipped church that has ongoing processes to cultivate skilled and competent leadership in different age groups who have the capacity to serve in a wide range of ministries.
Without attention to succession planning, a church succumbs to being a reactive church who waits for a crisis to unfold as a result of inevitable changes when leadership resigns, retires, gets sick, or dies. To avoid crisis planning, it is incumbent that church leadership regularly gathers to talk in a systemic way about its legacy planning process and priorities.
Some ways in which a church might engage in succession planning is to:
Urge membership to take seriously its responsibility to invite people to new life in Jesus Christ
Seek new disciples in the church and develop them to maturity in Jesus Christ
Coordinate continual Ministerial Training
Identify and developing future leaders at all levels in the church
Strengthen Children, Youth Ministry through creative and nontraditional ministries
Develop Young Adult Ministries that address their relevant issues
Cultivating generosity in giving and equipping people to “Get their financial houses in order” that can include debt elimination programs and financial literacy classes
Developing narratives and orientations to help transition persons into leadership roles
Offer seminars on planned giving and help persons develop wills, trusts, annuities and other vehicles to transfer wealth
Provide resources so leadership can participate in continuing education opportunities especially through ABCUSA and its regions
Develop plans for Income generation
Securing Federal 501c3 status and certificate of occupancy.
Succession planning can help a unleash persons to fulfill their calling and help the church align resources and structure to for its mission and its new season fraught with challenges and opportunity. Our future is bright!
Rev. Dr. Campbell B. Singleton, III serves as the Associate Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro New York. As Associate Executive, he is responsible for motivating churches to spiritually and financially support ABC ministries through the mission giving program. Dr. Singleton’s academic credentials include a Doctor of Ministry from Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut; a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York; and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, Connecticut. Additionally, Singleton is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., and avid fan of the New York Knicks. He enjoys the theater, golf, music, and has a wide circle of friends. He is married to his lovely wife, Mrs. Nicola Black-Singleton, who is the joy of his life. They are blessed with a son, Campbell B. Singleton, IV.