Leadership Continuity Plan

Continuity Plan for the Senior Pastor

Of all of the resources that we are entrusted to steward, leadership is perhaps the most critical. The ongoing health and effectiveness of Grace Church is dependent upon healthy leadership transitions, especially of the Senior Pastor.

Why Leadership Continuity is Necessary

  • Grace Church will only transition one time in our history from a founding Senior Pastor.

  • Having a specific plan and timeline will decrease risk, while increasing staff and church membership confidence and allow for smoother and more organic transition.

  • Continuous prayer and planning allows for God’s timing to prevail and the love of Christ to be administered to all involved.

Timeline and Highlights of the Leadership Continuity Process

  • Formation and personnel of Leadership Continuity Team (LCT)

    • Dave Rod returned from his sabbatical in 2009 and shared his heart for beginning the process of an effective leadership transition for the sake of the ongoing health and ministry impact of Grace Church.

    • The LCT was established in May 2010 as an ad-hoc subcommittee of the Governing Board that was charged with praying over and planning the entire 8-10 year process of the transition of our Senior Pastor at Grace—specifically:

      1. To continually pray over the entire process of 8-10 years to completion.

      2. To provide continuity in overseeing the process since elders members rotate on and off of the Board.

      3. To identify models and key factors for good and poor transition efforts in the church today, and propose a plan and timeline forward to ensure a smooth transition.

      4. To develop an interim disaster recovery plan for an emergency vacancy of the Senior Pastor position at Grace. 

      5. To be involved in the personal integration, prayer, and adjustment process for the new candidate.

    • Members: The LCT is composed of Covenant Community men and women of Grace, the Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor and the current Chairman of the Governing Board.

      • Dave Quigley, LCT Chairperson (former Governing Board Chairperson)

      • Cathy Foley, HR & Leadership Development Professional with Eli Lilly, current elder

      • Greg Guevara, Former Governing Board Chairperson

      • Dave Rodriguez, Senior Pastor

      • Chris Shore, Executive Pastor

      • John Wright, Former Governing Board Chairperson

  • Research and resources

    • Several books and biographies of both failed and successful transitions

    • Numerous articles, blogs, webinars and websites

    • Interviewed other Senior Pastors of megachurches on the issue

    • Researched corporate vs. church transition strategies

    • Validated our plan and findings with a national church consultant

  • Key LCT and Governing Board decisions

    • Established the LCT – May 2010

    • Emergency Plan approved – September 2011

    • Completed research on church models and reviewed with outside consultant – November 2011

    • Completed the Candidate Profile and Requirements – February 2013

    • Governing Board approved the plan and timeline – April 2013

      • We created a three-year Pastoral Residency for the development and evaluation of a potential Senior Pastor successor

Decision to Search for an Internal Candidate

  • Grace Church is clear about who we are and where we are going and we have established a healthy leadership culture

  • After much discussion and prayer we determined that internal candidates would be preferred in our situation. Research showed that these individuals tend to understand the DNA of the culture and the community and they have a higher probability of being successful.

  • The internal pool of possibilities included:

    • All current Grace staff

    • All partner ministry leaders

    • Networking leads from Grace pastors and elders, other megachurch pastors

  • We realized that Barry Rodriguez, Dave's son, was among those who met many of the criteria we were looking for. So we decided that we needed to give serious consideration to him as a potential candidate for the Pastoral Residency. 

    • The fact that one of the potential candidates was Dave’s son obviously complicated the process. Let me share how we handled this potential conflict of interest. 

      • Dave Rod immediately recused himself from the team meetings and interviews. He only received brief progress updates.

      • The LCT proceeded with a robust interview process:

        • Multiple candidates (Dave did not participate in these initial interviews). We conducted individual interviews of potential candidates.

        • Team interviews

        • Governing Board interview

        • Pastoral Leadership Team “interview”

        • References

        • Prayer and discernment and consensus throughout

Barry Rodriguez Selected to Enter Developmental Process

After this extensive review, after nearly one year from the initial discussion, Barry Rodriguez was selected to enter the Developmental Process (three year pastoral residency) as the potential successor for senior pastor.
 
We agree that Barry has the gifts and potential to be the Senior Pastor, and will receive the opportunity to develop, exercise and prove this potential in the Pastoral Residency program. His clear gifting as a teacher and speaker, his ability to cast vision for the mission, and his passion for Grace Church, the Hamilton County community, and the world was evident to all on the Leadership Continuity Team and the Governing Board. During our interview it was our goal to assess Character, Calling, Chemistry and Competence related to this role: 

  • Character. Barry’s character is excellent. He is a man of integrity, brokenness, self-awareness, authenticity, and tenderheartedness. He is palms up and embodies the DNA of Grace Church. In both the interview process and through his ministry of teaching at Grace and leadership at World Next Door it is obvious that he has proven himself to a man of integrity and humility. He also has shown himself to be open and accountable to others through this process. There were no red or yellow flags found by the LCT.

  • Calling. It was clear to all members of the team and the Governing Board that Barry is called to serve the church and work with the people of Hamilton County to get them involved with what God is doing at Grace Church. He has a heart for suburban people which drove him to found WND. His infectious enthusiasm for God’s work at Grace led him to exclaim, “It’s a great time to be at Grace!” He has a clear joy at being part of the Teaching Team at Grace and is growing more confident and effective in his preaching. 

  • Chemistry. The LCT and Governing Board found Barry to “be very in tune with Grace”. He handles himself with poise and humor. He is very articulate and has great chemistry. We found him to be genuine with infectious enthusiasm, and that he is well liked and respected at a corporate level and at an individual level by the people of Grace. He particularly is in tune with the student ministries population from his preaching over the years there (Fuse, Merge and Young Adults). In addition, he has been through the Way of Discipleship and is involved in the process with others.

  • Competence. Barry is a gifted writer, speaker, and teacher without being “churchy” in his language usage. He is a great communicator, story-teller and vision-caster. We believe him to be a visionary and he has real, natural leadership abilities. Barry seems to have all the basic requirements we identified for a potential Senior Pastor successor. 

Developmental and Transition Process

As of May 26, 2015, Barry’s three year pastoral residency program has begun. He is serving in his staff role as Associate Pastor of Access which will extend for three years.

He reports directly to Ron Stohler, Pastor of Adult Ministries & Discipleship, in his role with Young Adults. Chris Shore, Executive Pastor, will ultimately oversee and evaluate his performance in the three-year residency.

  • An overview of the process:

    • Three Year Pastoral Residency followed by two year transition.

    • Formal reviews at six-month intervals presented to the Governing Board.

    • After three years the Governing Board will evaluate through our discernment process his readiness to be proposed as the Senior Pastor successor. 

    • Covenant Community will vote to affirm the Governing Board proposal.  If affirmed a two year transition period will occur between Dave and Barry.

Pray for Ongoing Discernment

Everyone involved (Governing Board, Leadership Continuity Team, Pastoral Leadership Team, Dave and Penny, Barry) cares too much about the continued impact of Grace Church for the Kingdom, and about this family, to not be convinced that we have received discernment from God to enters this process with Barry.
 
Please pray with us for Barry’s development, continued discernment and wisdom for the Governing Board and Pastors, and the eventual transition of leadership.
 
Of all of the resources that we are entrusted to steward, leadership is perhaps the most critical. The ongoing health and effectiveness of Grace Church is dependent upon healthy leadership transitions, especially of the Senior Pastor.