A strong Prophetic Word for Church Leaders.
The pattern you see in so many churches where the son or daughter of the senior pastor is slated to take the reigns of the fellowship Dad is leaving has tremendous danger in it. Most great churches are not great at developing a good succession pattern.
It's not that those in the succession line are unable or unqualified. They might be tremendous, they might be anointed, they might be gifted. But they are untested in Ministry Leadership. They haven't yet had to make the hard decisions to lead well.
There are exceptions. Joel Osteen would be one. I'm sure you can think of others. On the other end of the spectrum is the Dr Schuller's Chrystal Cathedral. The result of poor succession or worse succession simply because the son or daughter thinks he or she would like to take the reigns is a recipe for disaster. It has been there. I understand the motivation. If you love the ministry and you love your kids, you will naturally want to see your kids follow in your footsteps.
Particularly in these very difficult times. It's about Job security. BUT, that is not always the answer. Difficult economics have created a catch 22 in Churchenomics. Your kids need a job but there is no money. This is bankrupting ministries everywhere.
Many many churches are in default on the loans they took out to build big buildings. The building boom of the 90s has put many churches into a deep dark place some will not emerge from. Worse, expectations that things will get better soon are ill advised. Things must get worse still in our economy. It is going to be a long time before this kind of building boom will be renewed.
Churches will prosper, but they will be different. Very different. Better.
The strategy of building clerical succession from the family of the church leadership will fail (for the most part). They haven't been battle hardened. A battle is coming. Only the strong will survive. If you were to have your kids come into the ministry, the best way to do it is help them become trained, then kick them out. Make them plant a church or two. Fail. Get on staff at a large church and see how difficult and ugly it can be. Then, spend extended time on the mission field. A couple years perhaps. THEN, you have a chance at taking the reigns when dad steps down. Gordon Robertson followed this pattern and is an able replacement for his father. Better than Pat in many ways. But he earned his chops on the anvil of experience in the mission field, not from bloodline succession.
This is ONE of the benefits of the Denominational church. Catholic and Lutheran churches seldom suffer from this. The cross pollination of pastors and priests moving around from parish to parish means that battle hardening is happening.
Sure, there are dynamic powerful preachers in independent churches and congregations. They just don't do succession well. If I could speak a word of wisdom to them, it would be to kick the birds out of the nest and let them develop in the school of hard knocks. If you pastor a start up and have it fail, you gain respect for how much is invested in these ministries.
I wouldn't say it is impossible. Just very rare. VERY RARE. And if you think you might be an exception, you may be in gross deception.
This has always been the case. Succession by unhardened heirs of a ministry often leads to failure and defeat.
Consider Nadab and Abaihu. (Exodus 24) These two sons of Aaron couldn't have come from better stock. They GREW UP in the church. A study of Scripture clearly reveals these were two truly favored persons. They were, without question, the least likely of the sons of Israel one would expect to be executed so suddenly by their God. On the surface, all seemed so right and so bright for these two.
Nadab and Abihu were the sons of Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel, and thus the nephews of Moses. As such, they were the direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We can confidently declare, therefore, these men were of "good stock," from a fine, upstanding lineage, and had the blessing of godly examples of great men and women in their lives. This should have had a tremendous impact upon them for good.They also had an exalted status among the people. Exodus 24:11 lists them as being among the "nobles of the sons of Israel." In Scripture, their names even appear before that of the Elders of Israel. Some have speculated one of them may well have been slated to be next in line for the High Priesthood after their father Aaron completed his service. They were being groomed for the highest positions of service unto God and His people at that time. Not something to be taken lightly.
Yet they fell badly. They were bad at being spiritual leaders. They failed. Not because they were bad, Dad (Aaron) put them in place too soon. They were not battle hardened. Battle with the Enemy. God had to kill them to protect his people.
Consider The sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. They were evil. Profane. Not battle hardened in dealing with the enemy of their souls. They grew up in the Church. They were church leaders because dad was unwise enough to put them in authority. Never mind that Samuel was growing up right in their midst. God had to kill all three of them to save his people.
Today God doesn't always kill the leaders who are drifting. He will however kill the ministry. He will close the church. He will stop the abomination. His heart is toward the people above the shepherds.
IF you are reading this and you are in this situation, it's time to make reparations. It's time to do the right thing.
Look for the Samuel's to lead. They are among you. They are your spiritual children. Seldom are the physical children also spiritual children. They know you too well. Be an Elijah, find the Elisha's among you and call them out. They will give leadership where your physical children cannot. Your children might be someone else's Elisha or Samuel elsewhere. Let them be that. Someday, they might return and become the person to take your ministry. But probably not.
The most successful sons of great ministries went on to become great ministers elsewhere.
I could name lots of names here, but it's not necessary. This is a trap only you can extricate yourself from. It's better to avoid it all together.