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CNLP 110: Jeff Brodie, Carey Nieuwhof and Jeff Henderson on Navigating a Successful Transition: Stepping Out of And Into the Lead Pastor’s Chair

In late 2015, Carey Nieuwhof stepped out of the Lead Pastor role at Connexus Church (the only role he’d ever had) and assumed a new role as Founding and Teaching Pastor, while Jeff Brodie became the new Lead Pastor. A year into the transition, by all accounts, the move has been a success.

Jeff Henderson—Lead Pastor of Gwinnett Church near Atlanta— interviews Carey and Jeff about why they made the change, how they did it, what worked and where the tension has been.

Welcome to Episode 110 of the Podcast.


Guest Links: Jeff Brodie, Carey Nieuwhof and Jeff Henderson

Launch Youniversity

The Launch Youniversity Podcast

Gwinnett Church

Jeff Brodie

Connexus Church

Jeff Henderson on Twitter

Carey on Twitter

Jeff Brodie on Twitter

Connexus Church on Facebook

Connexus Barrie on Twitter

Links Mentioned

Injoy Stewardship Solutions


Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track – and Keeping It There by Les Mckeown

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Casey Graham; Episode 104

3 Things from This Episode

What are you doing as a leader now to preserve the future of the mission? Leaders do not do well when the future is dimmer than the past. It’s one thing to have a church that grows with you, but it’s another to have a church that grows without you. Carey and Jeff Brodie talk about what’s happened over the past year since Jeff took over as lead pastor at Connexus.

  1. Keep the focus on the mission. The forefront of a leadership transition is preserving the mission. Changes were being made so that the talents of Carey and Jeff Brodie were being leveraged to reach as many people as possible. You are not the mission. Jesus is the mission.
  2. Find alignment with your staff and your elders. As responsibilities change within a transition, you have to maintain boundaries and help others understand the new protocols for your operations. Re-direct your team when they want to revert to an old process. It will take patience, but show grace and remain consistent.
  3. Don’t hang on to a title. Look for a role and look at what you can give to a team. When a new position becomes available to you, think about the mission first and see if it matches your passion. Pray about it. As God opens the doors, you’ll see positions differently.

Quotes from this Episode


Lasting Impact Team Edition


The team edition is a compilation of eight videos designed to allow the teams in your church follow along as a supplement to the book. I highlight key points from the material and discuss additional hot topics that relate to your ministry.

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Next Episode: Todd Wilson

Wonder if you’ll ever find your real calling? Are you called to ministry? How would you know? An ex-engineer with the US nuclear navy, Todd Wilson answered a call to ministry, founding Exponential and many other things as a Kingdom entreprenuer. His latest venture is to help leaders find their true calling, and in this episode, he tells you what to look for to find your calling.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 111.

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  • Wow Carey what a great topic. Sadly transitions rarely go as well as yours – very encouraging. My wife and i have pretty much experienced the exact opposite. Short story is we were the 4th Senior Pastors in five years. We are now 3.5+ years in and back on track to health. Will be checking out your book suggestions to make sure any future transitions go well.

    • Thanks Jon…Sorry it’s not been encouraging. It is so tough. Keep going my friend. Situations like yours are why I was so passionate about sharing what happened.

  • Chad Billington

    what a fantastic episode. Stirred my heart and got me thinking on lots of levels. Glad to hear how you are made this transition. As a second chair leader, there was a lot for me to learn in here.

    I”m going to share this with my denominational group. At a regional event we were just talking about the importance succession at our most recent meeting.

  • Cathy

    Great episode. Our experience in ministry has led us to realize how important humility is and having the confidence to hire in strength around you and above rather than hiring below you. Then having the maturity to get out of the way and let God lead and if you are called out to another position the hole you leave is not as big.

  • Carey,

    Loved this episode. Thanks to you and the Jeffs for your transparency. 3 questions:

    -As you and Jeff moved into new roles, has Connexus now added someone else in the Executive Director role that Jeff had?

    -When your assistant comes back from maternity leave, will you need to reorient her to how her job will / may be different since yours is?

    -And for fun: Now that you’re no longer the lead pastor, does that disqualify you from attending the ReThink leadership conference you’re hosting next spring?

    • Hi John.

      – Yes. We have an ops/exec staff member.
      – We’re still tracking pretty closely (she lives near me and we go to the same church!) but there will be some adjustment as with all growth. And things are really growing/changing.
      – Ha ha. Secret passes.