Transition Plan: Passing on Church Leadership

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How does a legendary pastor hand over his ministry to someone else? What are the secrets that saved his church from self destruction during the transition? How can this story help your kids ministry now and in the future?
Keep reading to find out.
Transition Plan, by Bob Russell and Bryan Bucher, is a very short, very succinct story of how to gracefully pass the baton of leadership. It is broken into  5 easy-to-read chapters, and 1 bonus chapter of articles on leadership. Beginning with Bob telling the story of how the “transition” took place for him at Southeast Christian Church after 40 years as senior pastor, the book is an enjoyable read right from the beginning.  Topics such as “setting a plan” and “letting go of pride” are approached in a  truly humble and truthful format.  He leads us through, why we need a transition plan, and backs it up with a full chapter of research. Then he choreographs us through the “goodbye” and, the “what’s next?” phase of retirement.
Bob  Russell explains humbly and humorously how to practice the transition. Every chapter is very personal and wonderfully motivational!  He tells the story of returning to visit his church after a couple of years of retirement.  One man saw him in the restroom and declared, “Hey Bill! Good to see you back!”  In two years, he had forgotten Bob’s name. Bob Russell’s humility is apparent in every chapter and antidote.  His style truly makes you feel that we are all apart of the same team trying to get to the same finish line. His advice is easy to swallow as it is so graciously shared.
My first impression was, that this would never apply to me — I’m not the pastor — I do the kids stuff. But as  I read, the clarity of Bob’s idea came to me.  The idea of having a a transition plan is invaluable.  What if this concept was used not just for the senior pastor but for the leaders in kids programming as well?.  As the mission statement is created for a ministry, a basic transition plan could be too!  As I pondered how this would reflect in our kids ministry, I realized the impact this concept could have on our leadership. The “my ministry” concept would never happen.  Right away leaders would realize they are a part of an ongoing vision that has been there before them and will still be there after them.  Everyone would be visualizing the future of the ministry immediately, where it will go and what it will become under their lead. Finally, it puts a leader in the position of mentoring and training up new mature leaders.  Wow!
I especially loved the bonus chapter with articles published by Bob Russell on Leadership. Titles include “Combat Procrastination Today!” and “Mentoring Future Ministers”.  These quick two page articles read like a devotional and inspire like a good pep talk before the big game.  All have great value, and are supported by scripture reference.
I only hope the word about this book gets out to leaders on all levels, not just senior pastors, so everyone can benefit from this book.  I believe that secular organizations could benefit from Bob’s experience as well.
Bob’s humble teaching style is contagious and energizing.  It has motivated me to share this book with my senior staff above me and to the incredible servants I mentor in kids ministry!  I encourage you to order copies for your entire leadership team so you can take this wonderful journey together.  Although I received a complimentary copy of the book for this review, I will be ordering a copy for all of my leaders this year.  Thank you, Bob, for sharing your gifts with us: the teammates in this race.  May we all give our best run and pass the baton to the next runner!

If you’d like more information on Bob Russell, you can find it at You can also follow the Twiter account and Facebook Page for this book.

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