Leading Your African American Church through Pastoral Transitions

by Ralph C. Watkins. Judson Press, 2010.

Ralph Watkins’ years of research, teaching, and church leadership experience shine in this book that helps pastors, lay leaders, and congregation members make a successful transition to new clergy leadership. Watkins identifies nine leadership behaviors that he believes lead to that success, such as focusing on congregational assets, paying attention to and handling “the dark side,” and metabolizing congregational and pastoral history. Other pertinent topics covered include using a congregational survey, exploring the search committee’s “working assumptions” about leaders and new leadership, and facing the challenges of a pastor leaving under troubling circumstances. One unique feature is a review of clergy families that covers single parenthood. Stories and lessons learned from several congregations that experienced significant transitions are offered as case studies. The primary audience is the African American Christian church; however, the accessibility and practicality of this resource makes it appropriate for any number of Christian traditions.