The Christian Post reported from the Global Leadership Summit this week at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Ill. that megachurch pastor and best-selling author Bill Hybels is talking succession planning with his church board. Hybels shared openly about the process with the audience, thousands who watched and listened not only from the Willow Creek campus but via satellite from locations around the world and online.
“The elders at Willow Creek are quite aware that I turned 60 this last year … They know my family history of heart disease. They know that I travel into high risk areas so they brought the subject matter of succession several times in recent years,” admitted Hybels about mid-way through his opening talk. “They finally asked me if I would be willing to enter more formal conversations about my potential transition out of this church. They assigned one elder that I know well and that I trust deeply and I said sure, why not.”
Hybels, who founded both Willow Creek Community Church, the Willow Creek Association, and the Global Leadership Summit, said the early succession conversations were difficult but well-handled. Hybels also said they were in “phase two” of the process in which they intend to locate a successor, after which in the last phase Hybels will gradually hand his responsibilities over to the new leader.
He then spoke to board members in the Summit audience, advising them not to “assign a person with low emotional intelligence to have these conversations with your pastor.” Then he advised senior pastors not to “hang on too long.”
“Make sure that your greatest legacy is going to be to make sure that your church is well led after you leave it.”
The Global Leadership Summit featured speakers including Condoleezza Rice, Jim Collins, Craig Groeschel, John Ortberg, and Patrick Lencioni.