Archive for Influencers

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

Influencers: Who is Your Bill Hootman?

Bill Hootman is a quiet man, but when he speaks, people listen. He always has something that will contribute in a positive way. Without trying, he is an influencer.

Bill Hootman

Bill Hootman gives a communion meditation at Parkview Christian Church in Wooster, Ohio.

 I have known Bill Hootman for years; we worship together at Parkview Christian Church in Wooster. When I first began attending Parkview in 2003, he taught a Sunday School class and served as an elder.

I had been part of another class and, later, began teaching that class. Because of our responsibilities, we have not had a lot of opportunities to pick each other’s brain. However, Bill is in the rotation of those who deliver devotional thoughts before we take communion, so I get a chance to be exposed to his thinking.

When Bill delivers a communion meditation, you can count on three things:

  1. Bill will connect with you through a personal story,
  2. Bill will be transparent (he is not afraid to share his shortcomings),
  3. Bill be lead your thoughts toward Jesus.

This past Sunday was no different. He talked about how he was working with a man in a nursing home who had contracted pneumonia. It appeared the man would recover, but he was just not responding. Bill asked him why he wasn’t getting out of bed, and the man told him, this was not his home, and he was ready to leave to be with Jesus. Not too long after, that is just what the man did.

During the meditation, it sounded as if Bill was getting emotional, and so were some of us. Bill just has a way of communicating biblical truths in ways that are insightful and personal.

Bill is so transparent. After he lost his job at a manufacturing plant (I believe the company moved the jobs overseas) and was retrained to provide physical therapy in a nursing home setting, I asked him, “What did you make?” Without blinking an eye, Bill told me exactly how much he earned. I was curious about what the company produced, but he interpreted the question as what did he make, in terms of a salary.

Like I said, Bill is relatively quiet, but when he speaks, he does not waste his words. What he says always provides a positive contribution to the discussion at hand. Because of this, Bill has influenced me in ways I have never communicated with him.

Who is your Bill Hootman? Who is in your life who is relatively quiet, but inspires you when s/he speaks? Who makes your life better just for having known the person?