SENIOR PASTOR SUCCESSION IN MULTISITE CHURCHES: A MIXED METHODS STUDY
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With its growing popularity, most church leaders believe the multisite church is not going anywhere. Regardless of one’s belief about whether a multisite church meets the definition of “one church” or “multiple churches,” all multisite churches must deal with the fact that their senior leaders will eventually depart. While numerous examples of single-site pastoral succession exist, there are few examples of multisite pastoral succession from which to learn. The ultimate purpose of this research was to help multisite churches (or churches that are considering multisite) better understand and implement pastoral succession from the first generation of pastoral leadership to the second. To accomplish this goal, a two-phase sequential mixed-methods study was developed. Phase 1 of the research built a survey to better understand multisite succession, which was administered to 21 of 35 churches that were discovered through snowball sampling. Phase 2 built upon the survey information and utilized a Delphi Panel in order to project best practices for multisite churches undergoing pastoral succession. This phase had 76 practices gain consensus after three rounds of expert feedback. The results included practices for first generation pastors, practices for second generation pastors, and practices for the organization as a whole.