Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives (DLd)



First Advisor

Caroline Ramsey

Second Advisor

Phil Newell


Leadership transitions are inevitable within all organizations. It is not a question of if, but when. This is particularly true within churches. Pastoral succession, particularly a long-term founding pastor’s transition, is difficult. There are many emotions and tensions to navigate for the church family, staff, elders, founding pastor, and incoming pastor, in the midst of the transition. A struggle for control often takes place in addition to a great sense of loss, confusion, and fear for many in the church family. Every transition has its own unique story. Some transitions go smoothly, while others result in pain and a disaster, yet in every transition you will find a mix of emotions, both high and low for leadership to navigate. Chapter 1 of this dissertation looks at the existing problems that occur in the midst of long term founding-pastor transitions. Chapter 2 examines leadership type and context within transitions, and reviews transitions seen in scripture. Chapter 3 examines the importance of establishing a theology and theory of leadership to assist a church family going through leadership transition. Chapter 4 acknowledges the different emotions that occur within leadership transitions and studies the importance of using emotional intelligence to help navigate these complex feelings. Chapter 5 reviews Family Systems Theory as it relates to the church. Acknowledging the church as a family allows us to examine how Family Systems Theory can help a church family navigate through the complex emotions of a founding pastor transition. Overall, this paper will look at church health and help leadership navigate the complex transition when a founding pastor moves on.


On August 29 2022, this degree of Doctor of Ministry with a concentration in Leadership and Global Perspectives (DMin) was exchanged for a Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives (DLd), with the approval of George Fox University, ATS, and NWCCU.

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Christianity Commons