Most groups think in some way about building up leaders, but another important area to consider is leadership transitions.
A lot of times, when a leader decides to move on, someone else is pulled from the outside to take up the mantle of leadership and move forward. If it’s done well, this can be a terrific jolt to the group that can bring new life, vitality, and direction. But it has to be done well. Many times, especially in smaller groups, it’s more of a drop and swap rather than a positive transition.
I’m thinking of Bible study groups where one leader has shaped the culture and feel of the group for years. When that person leaves, if a new person comes in from the outside, their leadership style is going to be different. That’s fine, but the culture and feel of the group changes dramatically. No one may even notice that all of the old members slowly drift away as new people come in.
That may not be a bad thing. Maybe the new leader needs to make it their own. But I’m guessing that if a new leader was able to spend a month or so just participating in the group without leading and imposing his or her own style, they’d get a better feel for the existing culture and be able to integrate the healthy parts of that culture in with their new vision and ideas for the future.
If you’re facing a leadership transition, how can you raise up leaders from within or help a new leader make the transition? Change is inevitable and usually good, but it’s always important to understand the culture and respect the past as we move toward the future…