Developing an Approach for Unanticipated Leadership Transition in the Church
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DEVELOPING AN APPROACH FOR UNANTICIPATED LEADERSHIP TRANSITION IN THE CHURCH Jeremy Elton Bedenbaugh, DMin The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018 Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Shane W. Parker The purpose of this project was to develop an approach to unanticipated leadership transition in the church, especially due to burnout or moral failure. Chapter 1 demonstrates that unanticipated transition of a senior leader creates massive upheaval in any organization, but especially in the church where leadership is predicated upon personal integrity. Chapter 1 also describes the history and context of The Journey Church in St Louis. Chapter 2 focuses on early warning signs of and leadership acumen needed when pastoral disqualification occurs. The chapter demonstrates the principles necessary to guard against moral failure through Solomon’s story and the Pastoral Epistles. Chapter 3 studies “Moral Licensing,” which shows a pastor’s potential propensity to use past good deeds to justify present bad. In addition, the chapter wrestles with the nature of power, the right use of which leads to flourishing. Chapter 4 summarizes interviews with multiple churches that experienced unanticipated leadership transition. It offers lessons learned, ways to guard against disqualification, potential fallout from transition, and early warning signs. Chapter 5 finishes the project with personal reflections related to my own journey leading through pastoral disqualification as well as theological clarifications.