CNLP 283: Lee Kricher and Jason Howard on the Emotions of Pastoral Succession, Why Leaders Hang On Too Long, and Why Successors Are Afraid to Talk About The Real Issues

Succession has emerged as one of the major issues facing the church in the next decade. Businesses are not that far behind in struggling with succession. Most senior pastors (especially founding pastors) hang on too long. The question is why.

In a candid and disarmingly honest interview, Amplify Founding Pastor, Lee Kricher, and his successor, Jason Howard, talk about how they paved the way not just for the next generation of leader, but for the next generation of church, allowing the model to change while the leadership changed. In the midst of it, they both get very real.

Welcome to Episode 283 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Guest Links

Lee Kricher | Facebook | InstagramTwitterFor A New Generation

Jason Howard | Instagram | Amplify Church

Episode Links

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Next: Pastoral Succession that Works by William Vanderbloemen

CNLP 101: Turning Around A Dying Church – Lee Kricher On Setting A Church Up For The Next Generation

3 Insights from Lee & Jason

1. An emergency successor can be a powerful tool for leading through succession

Many bylaws in churches call for a congregational vote every time there’s a change of pastor. This can cause chaos and division within the congregation because those who vote against the incoming pastor often feel like they need to leave since God didn’t lead them to vote for their new pastor. This was how Lee and Jason’s church was structured as they came in.

One of the first things Lee did when he took over was to change those bylaws to say that it is the senior pastor’s role to name an “emergency successor” at all times. Once the board approves this successor, they are the designated successor moving forward and it is the senior pastor’s role to train them for the role. They no longer need to take a congregational vote for transitions. This saves a lot of time, energy, and division.

2. There are 2 major reasons transitions fail

The first major reason transitions fail is because the young guy doesn’t stick around. If the young leader gets impatient, they will often get angsty and feel like they need to use their call and anointing to lead a church. So rather than staying until it’s their turn, they go and plant a church and take some people with them.

The second major reason transitions fail is that the senior leader doesn’t want to leave. Many pastors have the mindset of “I’m going to stay in this church until I die, and then it’s God’s problem.” This is such a sad way for pastors to finish. Both Lee and Carey recommend that pastors transition leadership earlier than they think they should.

3. No matter what you are feeling inside through transition, your outside actions must honor the other person

The thing that made Jason and Lee’s transition work so well is their deep relationship with each other, and their commitment to publicly honor each other no matter what is going on behind the scenes. Before they started the transition process, Lee and Jason made a commitment to always respect each other no matter what disagreements they had to work through.

Lee and Jason also made an early decision to always put up a united front to their staff, volunteers, and congregations. This kept their staff on mission rather than worried their senior leaders disagreed on something. If Lee and Jason ever had a disagreement about the direction of the church or how they should be leading it, they had those discussions behind closed doors where the staff had no clue the disagreement was happening.

Quotes from Episode 283

After I’ve transitioned out, if I am in any role besides cheerleader and coach, then I am undermining my own legacy. @Leekricher Click To Tweet

I am a big believer in raising up the next generation and giving them opportunities to grow even before they seem to be ready. @Leekricher Click To Tweet

How many times do you see guys in their 60s or 70s where it ends badly? Don't leave too late. @Leekricher Click To Tweet

Your number one role is not to have the platform that you want for yourself. Your number one role is to serve. @jhowardPGH Click To Tweet

Succession is really hard, but it is absolutely worth it. @jhowardPGH Click To Tweet

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Next Episode: Marc Serrao

How do you build a world-class bakery in a village of just six thousand people? A bakery so popular it creates traffic jams with people from across the country wanting to get in? You break all the rules and create your own business model. Marc Serrao shares the story of how he started Oakmont Bakery, his radically different philosophy, and why even if you show up minutes before closing, you’ll find his store stocked full of fresh baked good, instead of empty and picked over.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 284.

CNLP 283: Lee Kricher and Jason Howard on the Emotions of Pastoral Succession, Why Leaders Hang On Too Long, and Why Successors Are Afraid to Talk About The Real Issues


  1. Roger Newsham on August 14, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    This is a great topic as you mention. We have a leader in his early 60’s who is aware that he needs to start this transition process. It is a statutory agenda point in the trustees meetings, yet when we get to that heading, the comment is ‘nothing to report.’ Our congregation is in decline, attendance to outreach events very low, and communication between leadership members, coordinator’s and the general congregation is disjointed. Those of us who have remained loyal in serving the Lord have seen friends leave, our children become disaffected and we wait for something exciting to happen. Yet we are told another 5 years yet… there has been no movement to identify a successor and as people leave and roles made vacant, our senior leaders try to fill their roles also. So thank you for a timely podcast.

  2. David Adetona on August 13, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Great stuff!

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