Leadership Lived: Seamless Succession Planning at Parkview Christian

On January 6, 2013, Brian White preached a sermon at Parkview Christian Church in Wooster, Ohio. Brian had been the church’s family and youth minister for more than two years, so him preaching was nothing new. But what he represented was totally new.

Brian White

Brian White’s first Sunday as lead minister of Parkview Christian Church in Wooster, Ohio.

That Sunday was the first Sunday Brian served as the lead minister of Parkview Christian Church. Dean Hammond was stepping down as lead minister, though continuing to serve at the church as a teaching minister and mentor to Brian and Joe Rubino, the church’s community outreach minister.

What was fascinating to see was the transition of power, so to speak. Actually, you really couldn’t see the transition of power. It came so slowly and so methodically that now that it is done, it seems as if nothing has changed; the succession planning and execution was just that good. From my perspective, as a member of the church but not part of the leadership circle, the transition has been, in a word, flawless.

Let’s face it. We are human. We might say we like change, but we really don’t, or if we do, then it must be on our own terms. However, I have not heard one negative comment about the change in leadership. That feat in an American church is nothing short of remarkable.

It is one thing for me to think something is going good, so I asked someone else in the congregation. I got a similar reaction.

I think the the leadership change has been successful for several reasons, and here are five:

  1. It was well-planned. Church leaders had discussions about two years before the transition.
  2. It was intentional. Because of the unique relationship among the church’s ministers and directors, Dean, Brian, Joe and Mel Wharton, the children’s director, it was important for the next leader to come from within and keep the chemistry rather than to bring in someone from the outside.
  3. It was well-communicated. Once the church elders approved of the succession plan, it was announced to the congregation, and we had one year to adjust.
  4. It was transparent. Dean started preaching less, and Joe and Brian started preaching more. Brian began assuming more of Dean’s responsibilities.
  5. It was a God thing. Something like this could not have happened without God being involved. It was just too perfect.
Mel Wharton, Brian White, Dean Hammond and Joe Rubino

Mel Wharton (left), Brian White, Dean Hammond and Joe Rubino

Tell us what you think: