Elephant in the Boardroom: Speaking the Unspoken About Pastoral Transitions
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More About This Title Elephant in the Boardroom: Speaking the Unspoken About Pastoral Transitions


Carolyn Weese and J. Russell Crabtree—experts in the field of church leadership—have written a nuts-and-bolts guide to developing a succession plan for smoothing pastoral transitions. Filled with strategies and solid advice, this handy resource is based in solid research and the authors’ many years of experience working with churches in a wide variety of denominations. Weese and Crabtree clearly show that leadership succession should be part of every church’s planning process.



CAROLYN WEESE is executive director of Multi-Staff Ministries, a consulting group based in Goodyear, Arizona, serving hundreds of churches from many denominations in thirty-six states. She has twenty years experience helping congregations with leadership development, succession planning, and other human relation issues.

J. RUSSELL CRABTREE is executive director of Holy Cow! Consulting in Columbus, Ohio, a company that offers organizational development services for religious, government, and nonprofit organizations.


List of Exhibits.




Part One: The Principles, Cost, and Players in Health-Based Transition.

1. Principles of Transition, Jesus Style.

2. Counting the Cost.

3. The Five Key Players in a Healthy Transition.

Part Two: The Four Church Cultures: Family, Icon, Archival, and Replication.

4. One Church, Four Variations.

5. Transition Strategies for Leaders in a Family Culture.

6. Transition Strategies for Leaders in an Icon Culture.

7. Transition Strategies for Leaders in an Archival Culture.

8. Transition Strategies for Leaders in a Replication Culture.

Part Three: Components of a Transition Plan.

9. Strategic Planning and the Search Process.

10. The Asset-Preserving Ministry.

11. A Capability-and-Maturity Model for Churches.

12. Pastoral Transitions in Low-Performing Churches.

13. A Plan for Responding to the Crisis of Sudden Transitions.

14. Getting Started on a Plan for Your Church.

Appendix: The Church Planning Questionnaire.

The Authors.

About Leadership Network.



“Carolyn Weese and Russ Crabtree have done churches a great service in breaking the curious silence about pastoral transition, perhaps the most serious threat to churches in the less institutionalized twenty-first century world. Here you will find the reality-based principles that lead to strategic succession.”
--Bob Buford, founder and chairman, Leadership Network, Dallas, Texas, and author, Half-Time

“This is an invaluable book for pastors, lay leaders, and members about how to handle pastoral transition with sensitivity, creativity, and excellence. It not only preserves the church, but enables it to grow and grasp the full potential of the future. This book utilizes profound biblical principles and the finest modern management strategy. I highly recommend this practical and profound book filled with insights and wisdom.”
--Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, president, Dunamis Christian Ministries, Inc., Hollywood, California

“At last, qualified authorities in church leadership have taken on the question of transition in a thoughtful way. Crabtree and Weese have supplied a carefully reasoned approach to an event that so often causes major problems for churches—replacing their leader. This book is well-written and badly needed.”
--Rev. Dennis McCallum, lead pastor, Xenos Christian Fellowship, Columbus, Ohio

“All of the personal and professional hot button issues involved in a pastoral transition are addressed in this book. They don’t just point out the pitfalls, they show us how to get out of them!”
--Dr. David G. McKechnie, pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas

“This practical book should be in the hands of every pastor and board chair. It provides the right answer to one of the most neglected areas of church life today—effective leadership transition in the local church.”
--Dr. William O. (Bill) Crews, chancellor, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, California

“Choosing a CEO is probably the most important thing a corporate board does. The church is no different. This book helps elevate the priority and process of properly choosing a new senior pastor. All congregations would benefit from this book.”
--Terry Looper, chairman and CEO, Texon Holding, Houston, Texas

“Practical advice for a critical problem. The authors’ explanation of strategic planning and organizational culture is worth the price of the book.”
--Rev. Gary DeLashmutt, lead pastor, Xenos Christian Fellowship, Columbus, Ohio

“Crabtree and Weese expose the huge costs and avoidable causes of poor pastoral transitions. They offer a wise strategy to prepare for the inevitable leadership changes every church will face.”
--Dr. George K. Brushaber, president, Bethel College and Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota