Leadership Continuity Update

Leadership Continuity Update

Posted on May 05, 2017


My personal passion and calling is for the local church to be unified, healthy, and effective. For that to be true in any local church it requires that leaders be unified, healthy, and effective. It has been said that “everything rises and falls on leadership.” Many churches lose unity, health, and effectiveness because of poor leadership transitions. Therefore, the ongoing health and effectiveness of Grace Church is dependent upon healthy leadership transitions, especially of the Senior Pastor.

I want to remind you of our plan for transitioning the most critical leadership role at Grace Church.

At Dave Rod’s initiative, a leadership continuity team was formed in 2010 to create a process to identify his successor.  Over the next five years the team consulted multiple resources in researching and designing a process that resulted in a plan to identify, develop, evaluate, confirm, and transition a suitable successor into the role of Senior Pastor.

Here are some highlights of where we are in that process:

  • A potential successor was identified – Barry Rodriguez.

  • He is almost two years into a three-year development and evaluation period. 

  • Barry is serving as Associate Pastor of Young Adults, serving on the preaching team, working on his seminary degree, and sitting in with the Pastoral Leadership Team.

Overall, we are encouraged.  Barry is serving, learning, growing, and developing as a Christ-follower, pastor, and leader. And, this continuity plan is doing just what it was intended to do—give us insight into Barry’s personality and competencies, including strengths and gaps, and give him practical experience and personal perspective.
Here is what lies ahead in this process:

  • If, after three years, we and Barry are convinced that the Holy Spirit is confirming this direction, the Governing Board will ask the Covenant Community to vote to approve Barry to transition into the role of Senior Pastor.

  • If affirmed, that will initiate a two-year transition of Barry into the role of Senior Pastor.

We will continue on this path with ongoing coaching and feedback as well as formal evaluations every six months.

Please pray for Dave, me, the Governing Board, and Barry as we move forward in this very critical discernment process. The continued unity, health, and effectiveness of Grace Church depends on it!

Please click here for more details about our Leadership Continuity Plan. See below to read Dave and Barry's thoughts at this point:

Dave's Thoughts

I’ve been reading again Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. His premise is that we all, at some point, must move on from the first phase of life which is mostly about “surviving successfully” into a second half which is “something bigger and deeper, beyond us and larger than us”. It’s all very mysterious and inviting to me…and with every passing month more real.

Let me answer the question I’m asked with increasing regularity. “What are you going to do post-Grace”?

I have no idea.

I am not planning on retiring. For two reasons. One, I have plenty of calling left in me. I love leading and talking about leading and helping people learn how to lead so, likely, I’ll find a way to do that.

Or maybe I’ll make scones.

And two, just being honest, I can’t retire. I need an income to sustain us for a while. So…stay tuned. Dave 2.0 is still being worked on in committee.

Also, let me be clear, I haven’t lost any passion for the work of God at Grace. I am not tired. I am not burned out. As a matter of fact, I am quite agitated about a few things that I still want to see happen. And, of late, I’ve been musing on how to push hard to those ends in the remaining 3 years.

And, interestingly, maybe because the clock is ticking so loudly in my soul, I have found myself more and more comfortable when I am with you, the congregation. I’m relaxing into who I am, who I’ve become, and am becoming. I have fewer filters. I’m honest. I’m direct. I like it.

About Barry. All the weirdness aside, I’ve been quite amazed at who he is growing into. I knew he was an info geek. I knew that when he dives into stuff in which he is interested he does so with abandon. (He is, of course, a 7 on the Enneagram!) But I wasn’t expecting that to happen with theology. And it has. And it is cool. It’s not unusual to find Barry and Tim in deep discussion over the exegesis of a portion of Isaiah, for instance. I’m enjoying the son to mentee to colleague journey we are on.

And yeah, I have to admit something. I dearly love you and us, the church. I love our story. And I love where we are headed. But, I am indeed starting to anticipate and even look forward to the end.

The second half feels enticing. And mysterious.

Barry's Thoughts

Wow. It’s hard to believe we’re already two thirds of the way through my candidacy. You know what they say: “Time flies when you’re working as a young adults associate pastor and studying at seminary while being trained and evaluated as a potential successor to a church’s senior pastor.” That’s a common expression, right?
I should get that on a t-shirt.
In all seriousness, it’s pretty remarkable to look back at the last two years and think about the journey I’ve been on emotionally, vocationally, and spiritually. To be totally honest, the first year was pretty rough. I struggled to adjust to many, many life transitions and the realities of working at a megachurch. At times, I felt myself facing a bit of cynicism and frustration, even questioning whether I had made the right decision to be here.
But as I got further into my candidacy, things really began to click into place for me. I started to develop great joy and passion as I engaged with God’s mission at Grace, I began to find my voice from the pulpit, and Scripture came alive as I searched its pages for the truth our community so desperately needs. Today, as I step back and reflect on where God has been leading me, I am astounded to see his hand working in all of it.
Today I can confidently say that God absolutely led me to this place, and I am so grateful I got to be here!
Now, I don’t know what the future will hold. I still have one more year of this candidacy to go, and I suppose anything could happen. But let me tell you one thing for sure: As I look ahead, I find myself practically trembling with anticipation about where Grace is headed.
The fact is, our culture is a mess. Our community is chronically anxious, desperate for hope, and exhausted from the relentless pull of hollow consumerism. Meanwhile, religion is no longer a default for people. Church involvement is plummeting, especially among young people.
Why does this fill me with expectation? Because now we get to really be the Church. We get to step into the messiness of our world and bring honest to goodness hope. We can heal broken lives with the power of the Spirit. We can form redemptive, missional communities in the love of Christ. And we can stand up for justice as the kingdom of God advances.  
Twenty five and a half years of ministry have led Grace Church to this time and place, to be a light of hope in a dark and confusing time. The fact that I get to play any role in this coming season of ministry is incredibly humbling. God is going to use our church to help heal the broken places of this world, and we get front row seats!
I can’t wait to see what will happen next… 


Alan, thank you so much for your thoughtful words and feedback. We are grateful for your open mindedness and sentiments.

Posted by Grace Church on November 28, 2017 @ 10:03 am

Dear Barry, Dave, Staff and whoever might read this. We were visiting our daughter (Lisa Brewer) this past weekend when her church extension was cancelled due to an electrical problem and we ended up at the main campus of Grace. I just wanted you to know that I was very delighted, impressed, moved by the sermon Barry gave on 'Singleness." As a Professor of biblical and theological studies for over 50 years, I wanted you to know that what Barry presented was excellent from my viewpoint in accuracy, content, sensitivity to the audience in application and more importantly the message conveyed both the presence of the Holy Spirit and deep blessing. I do not often make this kind of evaluation for anyone including the so called great preachers of our time. When I heard from my daughter before the service that Barry was being considered as the next Sr. Pastor of Grace, I was skeptical that it was a dynasty appointment of some sort. Having heard Barry, I want to change that sentiment and for what it is worth I want to affirm the direction the church is going with him and if I were an elder in the church I would warmly commend him as the worthy successor of his faithful father who we have known for many years though our contacts have been limited to our many visits to Indy to see our daughter and her family. Barry, I wish I could have had a part in your education and training. Perhaps you will at sometime pick up one of my commentaries or other books and gain something that might help. We will be praying for God's continued leading of you and the church as they move forward.With prayerful good wishes, Alan

Posted by Alan F. Johnson, Emeritus Profes on November 22, 2017 @ 6:17 pm

Posted by Alan F. Johnson on November 22, 2017 @ 5:43 pm