A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (Proverbs 22:3)
Is your church taking the appropriate precautions to assure a clear transition when a pastor passes away? Often the answer to this question is “No.”
This issue itself needs to be bathed in prayer. The church’s board and their pastors need to think through all the aspects of a succession plan when a pastor goes home to be with the Lord.
You may be thinking, “this should be common practice.” The reality is, there are many factors that need to be considered when creating a succession plan. Often a plan isn’t created because our community lacks the proper professional guidance to address the life insurance needs of a pastor, but also the knowledge to help a church set a succession plan.
The Financial Aspect of Plan
The financial state of the fellowship is crucial in determining what type of plan can be implemented. The board needs to establish the priority of this issue within the overall budget. Where does it rank compared to salaries, missions, benevolence? Does the church provide it as part of the pastor’s salary? What would the purpose of the insurance be? Will the church cover burial expenses? Will the policy be enough to cover a Mortgage? Will debt be paid off? Will the policy provide income to the widow for a certain period?
When dealing with widows, the guidelines of 1 Timothy 5:8 come to mind.
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
Most pastors may think they provide for their households. But what is your definition of provide? Have you asked yourself, if you currently provide for your family, how will they make ends-meet if you were suddenly gone?
Although these questions seem difficult to answer, with the right professional assistance, a plan can be created to assure a smooth transition for the church and the proper legacy for the pastor.
The Spiritual and Emotional Support
Spiritual and emotional support for the pastor’s widow and children is necessary and expected given the pain one endures when losing a loved one.
When it comes to the pastor’s widow, a clear plan should be in place for her as well depending on her role within the ministry. Most expectations are for a pastor’s wife are unbiblical. The thought that a widow should automatically step down from a leadership role and relinquish duties to the incoming pastor’s wife need to be addressed. The widow should never be pushed aside arbitrarily and therefore a pastor and their board need to document “what happens” so there are no unspoken assumptions during a transitional period.
I invite you visit Pastors Legacy Plan and learn how they can help you and your church create the right plan, guided by your beliefs and principles, to assure the legacy you desire for you and your family.
Article Credit: Larry Scrogges, POIMEN Ministries