Pastoral Succession FAQ
What is Pastoral Succession?
Pastoral succession is the transition from one lead pastor to another. Until the Lord returns to make all things new, pastoral transitions are for one reason or another inevitable. A healthy succession plan and process is essential in any ministry because the ministry is bigger than any one person. We have prayerfully pursued succession planning for CCC to best accomplish our mission for the future. We believe God has led us in the planning and we continue to pray for his blessings through the upcoming transition.
What is the plan for pastor Larry's succession?
The basic outline of the plan is that, subject to affirmation by the congregation at the Church Annual Meeting on November 12th, 2023, Barry Cooper will assume the role of lead pastor in January 2024. If you would like to read Barry’s bio, you can do so through our church website here.
Why is this being implemented at this time?
This is entirely at pastor Larry's initiative. Many years ago, the elders encouraged him to continue in his present role until he turned 70. Pastor Larry will turn 70 in January of 2024. Larry and Connie Kirk have been in full-time ministry since 1978, so this year marks their 45th year. They planted Christ Community Church in 1984, so they have been in this leadership role for 39 years and 2024 will mark their 40th here at CCC. Since planting Christ Community Church over 39 years ago, pastor Larry has faithfully and sacrificially served as its only lead pastor. By God’s grace the church has flourished and multiplied under his leadership. In 2015, the elders and pastor Larry prayerfully began the succession planning process, which has culminated in re-organizing the staff and hiring pastor Barry Cooper as the elders’ candidate for becoming the next lead pastor. While Larry and Connie both want to continue to serve the Lord they feel that the time is right to pull away from the particular role of the senior pastor with its many diverse responsibilities. Their new role at CCC will allow them to continue to support Christ Community Church but will also allow them to prayerfully seek what God has in store for them in the next season of their lives.
When did the transition process begin?
Initial succession planning was discussed and studied beginning in 2015, and in 2017 a draft plan was developed. During the years that followed multiple revisions were made, expert advice was sought, potential successors were interviewed, and the plan was revised multiple times. Pastor Larry and the elders began to discuss that issue with Barry Cooper in late 2020- early 2021. Various assessment tools to help us understand Barry's strengths and leadership style were employed. In-depth interviews regarding theology and ministry philosophy also took place with the elders. During 2022 it became increasingly clear that the elders and pastor Larry believed that Barry was the one God was raising up to step into the role of lead pastor at Christ Community Church. The plan was put in place that Barry would begin as a full-time associate pastor in January of 2023. During the remainder of 2023, as time and other ministry commitments allowed, pastor Larry began to work with Barry to help prepare him for succession
What steps have been taken to safeguard a healthy transition?
The elders and pastoral leadership at Christ Community Church have prayerfully discussed and developed the transition plan over several years, spanning numerous meetings and conversations. They have drawn upon multiple sources, including the wisdom and insight of other like-minded churches who have successfully gone through the process of pastoral succession. As a result, it was determined that a covenant between the elders of Christ Community Church and Larry Kirk would be helpful. The covenant provides clear communication of mutual expectations and commitments, boundaries to ensure a healthy transition and sustainable ministry relationships to well serve the church and its people in the years to come. The details of this covenant are outlined in the following document:
What role will pastor Larry have at CCC beginning in 2024?
The elders have extended a call to pastor Larry asking him to continue in a part-time supportive role in the coming year, and indefinitely thereafter to be evaluated on an annual basis. He would serve with the title of pastor emeritus. In the pastor emeritus role he will serve in support of the lead pastor, assisting with preaching, teaching, counseling, and supporting the overall ministry and work of the church.
How does this transition impact other staff roles at CCC?
As early as 2022 some adjustments were made in order to position the future lead pastor to primarily have a role of preaching, teaching, vision casting and overall leadership. To facilitate this Associate Pastor Dennis Kiggins took on a leadership role overseeing the administrative side of the church's life. And assistant pastor Sean Moore took on increased responsibilities in overseeing the coordination and implementation of ministry goals. There are no major impacts on other staff roles related to the transition, and none are anticipated for the coming year.
What is the process for installing Barry Cooper to the lead pastor position at CCC?
Our bylaws provide authority for the elders and lead pastor to hire assistant and associate pastors, while the lead pastor must be affirmed by a ⅔ majority of the voting members present. Barry Cooper will be presented to the congregation as the prospective lead pastor candidate, with the full support of the elders, at the annual meeting scheduled for Sunday evening November 12th. If he is affirmed by at least a ⅔ majority of the voting members present, and accepts the call, he will be installed in that role in January 2024.
What notable changes does Barry plan on implementing?
Barry has been an active member of CCC for six years, serving as an elder since 2020. He dearly loves the combination of Reformed theology, faithful preaching of God’s Word, and Christ-centered music. There are no notable changes currently being planned.
What will Lee Cooper's role be? Will that be changing too?
The only expectation CCC has ever put on the wives of its pastoral staff is that they be committed Christian women who are fully involved in the life of the church. So Lee’s role in 2024 will be the same as before: raising the Cooper kids, taking part in the prayer team, leading small groups, discipling young women, serving on the CCC Missions committee, and supporting Barry.
Where will Larry’s and Barry’s offices be located?
Larry and Barry will switch offices in the new year. Barry will move up into the office closer to the lobby that was previously Larry's office, which has room for elders’ meetings and other gatherings. Larry will move into Barry’s present office in the modular building by the pond. By the way, pastor Larry is looking forward to that as he enjoys the view out the window and imagining the fish that are swimming in the water waiting to be caught!
How often will Barry preach? How often will Larry preach?
Our present plan has been that in the New Year pastor Larry will probably preach at least once a month and will be the main replacement speaker when Barry is called away due to vacations, sickness, or other ministry commitments.
What if my question isn't listed?
If you would like to present a question to the elders or pastoral leadership regarding the pastoral succession plan, please fill out the Pastoral Succession Question Form.