December 15, 2014

Pastor Succession, Multisite & Mergers


Fresh Content Each Week

New content to help you lead an unstuck church delivered to your inbox on Wednesday mornings.

We know your inbox is probably full.

We want to make it easier for you to find the right content-the articles, podcast episodes and resources most relevant to where you are in your leadership.

  • Protected: Order – August 7, 2021 @ 01:25 AM

    Podcast Episodes

  • Articles & Blog Posts

  • Protected: Order – August 7, 2021 @ 09:59 AM

    Quarterly Unstuck Church Report

In my annual “What’s Trending in Multisite?” I wrote in January 2013,

Senior pastor succession is the big elephant in the church boardroom and it is coming out of the closet. We will see more senior pastors coming from campus pastors and through church mergers in the next decade.”

One of the most important things a pastor needs to do in his or her ministry is finish well. Like death and taxes, senior pastor transition is inevitable. Pastors will be remembered more for how they left their church than how they arrived or even for what they accomplished while serving it. When pastors leave well, all the good accomplished will be celebrated for years after he or she has departed. When pastors leave poorly, all is forgotten. A bad transition will tarnish or erase all the good done during the years of service.

The typical succession plan when a senior pastor leaves or retires is to appoint a search team made-up of lay leaders who don’t live in the “church world” full-time. They will spend a year or more looking at many candidates while the church holds on or declines. Finally, a new pastor comes and often wants to put as much distance philosophically between him and his predecessor. All the kingdom ground gained under the former pastor is often lost or erased when the new pastor comes who has no history or appreciation of the predecessor. Most senior pastors and their churches have no succession strategy and allow churches to stall or decline by default.

One of the benefits of the multisite model is the built-in pipeline of potential successors to the senior pastor.

The next ten years will see an annual mass exodus of senior pastors retiring or leaving their position to pursue other ministry options. Pastoral succession is coming out of the closet because so many Protestant pastors are approaching retirement and the multisite model will play an increasing role in this process. Whether intentional or by default, when a senior pastor of a multisite church retires, moves to another place of ministry or forfeits his role—multisite campus pastors of that church will be in consideration. Denominations who appoint pastors to their churches could also utilize the built-in pipeline in the multisite churches in their denomination. Sometimes it is time for a church to change course under a new leader from the outside, but often it is a tragic loss not to continue the strong ministry of a healthy, relevant, effective church.

Though there are few instances of campus pastors succeeding their senior pastors now, many are in position to become the next senior pastor of their church. Already I have several church clients who have installed pastors at a multisite campus with the intention of the campus pastor eventually becoming the next senior pastor.

Here are the benefits. Multisite campus pastors are more likely to:

  • buy into the mission, vision and philosophy of the church.
  • be already known by the church family.
  • possess the DNA of the church.
  • have been mentored and coached by their senior pastor “up close and personal” over a long period of time.
  • understand how the church functions and “dys”-functions.
  • help the church have a smoother transition because the relationships are already established and therefore will have fewer “surprises.”
  • be less risky because the personal, family, community and cultural fit has already been proven.

One out of three multisite campuses is the result of a merger. This“multisiting through merger” development has put another option on the table for pastor succession. Instead of looking all over the country for a new pastor who may not fit culturally, why not consider a local pastor with a proven local track record? In the past it was not kosher to hire a local pastor to leave his church to go to another church in the same community, but this new wrinkle is different. The local pastor candidate not only brings his/her family, but brings their church as well. This can be far less risky than the traditional pastor search process of bringing an “outsider” to the church from another state with the hope that the chemistry, cultural fit and family happiness will occur.


This is a sponsored post from MultiSite Solutions, one of our Strategic Partners at

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.