As you’ve no doubt already heard, Disney is buying Lucasfilms for an enormous sum of money. (If you haven’t heard this news please voluntarily return your geek club membership card.)
What’s interesting about this move is the motivation behind it. Watch this brief video for the details from George Lucas himself.
It seems the motivation to make this big move (other than the buckets of cash) was to give the Star Wars franchise a life beyond the lifetime of George Lucas himself. He also says that he wanted put all these moves in place before he pasted on.
It’s commendable the Mr. Lucas has enough passion and foresight to protect his franchise for generations to come but let’s be honest it’s just movie magic and make believe characters we’re talking about here. Which begs the question, if Lucas is putting this much effort into his transition out for fictional empires, how much effort as pastors should we be putting into transitional plans for our our churches which impact a real Kingdom?
I’m always surprised when pastors give little or no thought to what would happen to their churches if they had to abruptly leave or even if they died unexpectedly.
I was called into one fast growing church that had to deal with a pastor that had a moral failure and had to step down essentially overnight. The crazy thing was that this great big church had absolutely no plan on how to handle the senior pastor’s departure. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that they should have had a “moral failure backup plan” but there wasn’t even a clear chain of command in place. It was utter chaos.
As pastors, we must take definite steps to insure that our ministries outlive our time there or our time here on earth. How?
1. Talk to Your Staff
This is probably a conversation that nobody really wants to have. It’s a bit morbid but it’s essential.
I remember having a conversation years ago with my wife about what would happen if I died. It was difficult to bring up. Neither of us wanted to dwell on it but after we had the discussion, and bought a ton of life insurance, I felt so incredibly mature. It felt like we had done something wise mature people do. You’ll feel the same way when you have this sort of talk with your staff and key leaders.
2. Establish a Transition Plan
Write it down. Make sure everyone knows the plan and understands it. Even if your by-laws already dictate what should happen make sure everyone knows where those by-laws are and agree ahead of time how to move forward should the unthinkable happen.
When Howard Hughes died he was one of the richest men on the planet and yet, remarkably, he left no will. This caused endless legal battles for decades as the courts tried to decide what to do with his vast estate. Don’t leave your church in similar situation wondering what in the world to do.
The time to figure all this out isn’t when the moment itself hits.
3. Raise Up a Shadow
Plans are great but they are hopelessly limited. Beyond plans, we must leave people behind to continue the work. Jesus did this. He left a team behind to build the Church.
As leaders, we need to be very intentional about raising up those around us that could possibly take our place. They need to shadow us as Joshua shadowed Moses so that they pick up as much knowledge and mission DNA as possible. This helps equip them to succeed which in turn helps those that follow that new leader to succeed as well.
All of this is ultimately all about leaving behind one great last act of love for those that are a part of your ministry. You are deciding to leave them well and that means you’ll be leaving a great legacy behind too.