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Doctoral Project Abstract

Passing the Mantle: A Biblical and Practical Case for Pastoral Succession Planning

J. Stephen Hightower

A common thread in successful organizations of all sizes, ages, and functions is the ability to plan for the future. Key questions to consider in strategic planning include what kind of leadership will be needed and how leaders should be selected. Too often a leadership vacancy forces a decision to be made that may not be in the best interest of the organization's long-term strategic goals. Leadership development, specifically, leadership succession planning, should be an integral part of organizational strategy to ensure continuity in the midst of transition, to reinforce the organizational values that need to be protected, and to increase follower commitment and morale.

Though churches have a distinctive spiritual focus that makes them unique among organizations, the need for succession planning is the same. Considering the divine mission for which they exist, the need to be concerned with long-term success, continuity, and preservation of core values may be even more pronounced than in the business world. While the concept may not be widely embraced within contemporary churches, biblical accounts demonstrate a pattern of leader development and planned succession as a means of preserving the integrity of a family, a kingdom, a nation, and the Church. Succession principles gleaned from Scripture can be applied in churches to preserve and amplify the good work God began, ease the stresses of the loss of leaders, and bridge gaps between old leadership and new.

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