(Originally at LeaderWorks )
I had felt the “Time” coming up on me rather slowly at first… It was an occasional tap on the window. “It’s about Time”, it would say. I could barely hear it at first.
Then a slightly louder tapping…especially during prayer: ”It’s Time!” I didn’t like it. “Go away!”, I’d mutter to myself and stay busy.
I spoke to my wife about it…then to few friends privately at first. I didn’t want to pray anymore about it. I knew enough to know it was from God. But gradually…in conversations…and in quiet, surrendering moments…I let the idea of “Time” come in and stay with me. It wasn’t to be feared. “Time” was trying to be a friend. I grew to accept it…to welcome it, embrace it, and then I called a meeting of the Vestry to tell them that the Time had come.
It was Time to step aside from Christ Church as Rector and Sr. Pastor. I had been here (then) 30 years and this would be one of the most important decisions I would ever make. I wasn’t ready to retire…but I knew it was Time for me and for Christ Church. It was Time for a new leader. God gently and firmly let me know.
I came to peace about it.
But then a whole flood of questions surged into my mind:
But who could be the next Rector? And how to find that person? And who should look? Where should be look? How can I get the Vestry to ‘own’ the vision I have had for 30 years? Is it even right to do that? What should my role as founding rector be in the Search Process? And who makes the final decision? What role does the bishop need to play in the choice? What is our succession plan? Do I have the right team on the Vestry? Do we hire a consultant? How am I going to feel about a new guy? What will I do with the feelings and affections I have for the people of Christ Church? Will Fran and I be okay leaving? How will the change our marriage? What is the difference between the Vestry and the Search Committee?
I could go on…and on.
I turned to William Vanderbloemen, a colleague and (now) friend of mine to ask for help. He owns Vanderbloemen Search Group, a staff search firm for churches and ministries. He had written a book called “Next: Pastoral Succession That Works“. I read it…and then made it required reading on our Vestry. My wife and I read it too. It helped us all find the language and the stories to put the questions in order…and one by one, week by week, and month by month, I found the answers. Our Vestry did also.
William is going to host me for a webinar on July 7th to talk about the process we went through as an Anglican parish. I hope you will join us. Go here to register for it…and join us live. He and I will be discussing the whole search process and some of the unique features of it that are part of our Anglican polity.
He has written a new book that many will find helpful: Search: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook. It is a guide for the role of the Pastoral Search Committee. We have had such a good experience, so he wants me to share the Christ Church story.
Who should attend this webinar? I’d welcome any (lay and ordained) who sense the gentle tapping of Time on their own window. We will look at some specifics about the transition we have been through…from start to finish. If you are interested in the story of our Search Process (which has ended very well), I’d invite you to join this webinar too.