In Module 3 of our succession planning video library I address five areas that should be evaluated as part of the development of your succession planning strategy: Governance, Staff, Finances, Facilities and Programming.

Talking about governance is about as exciting as watching grass grow. It is one of those topics nobody really wants to dig into. In fact, there are only a few times in an organization’s life that people actually pay attention to them. The first time is when the documents are written. The second is when they need to be modified. The third time is when there is a disagreement. The people that feel slighted in the process will go to the governing documents to see if proper procedure was followed. As you can imagine, or may have experienced, this happens all to often and is the reason very small minorities of people can undermine major decisions.

One of the benefits of starting the succession planning conversation early is that it allows you to address any inconsistencies between what your by-laws say and how the ministry is actually managed.

Here are two questions to consider as you evaluate your by-laws.

Are you in compliance with your by-laws in how you manage the organization?

If not, you have two options. Get in compliance or make changes to your by-laws. Remember, by-laws are a tool that serves as a guide for how you operate your ministry. They can be changed.

Is succession planning addressed in your by-laws?

By-laws do tend to address the issue of Replacement Planning, but you need to understand – succession planning and replacement planning are not the same thing. The absence of any guidance on succession planning causes many churches to assume things they probably should not.

If you see the need to make changes to your by-laws let me offer a word of caution. Be careful about making changes to your by-laws after you have started the replacement planning aspect of your succession planning strategy. You run the risk of people misinterpreting your intentions. Ideally, you will have enough time to make any changes before you go public with your retirement plans.


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