Carey Nieuwhof & Jeff Brodie Give An Inside Look On A Succession Plan in Action

Welcome back to another episode of the unSeminary podcast. Thank you so much for joining us for today for a chat with Carey Nieuwhof and Jeff Brodie from Connexus Church. They hosted a conference called the Canadian Church Leaders Conference and I had a chance to interview them onstage.

Carey was the founder at Connexus and worked as lead pastor, but they’ve had a transition in the last couple years in which Jeff is now lead pastor while Carey remains as founding pastor. I talk with them about what that succession process has been like.

  • Pray and follow the call. // Initially Carey was the lead pastor and Jeff reported to him. Now Jeff is the lead pastor and Carey reports to him. In the summer of 2015, Carey felt that a change may be needed because his other pursuits were exploding. He spent some time praying about this and felt that Jeff would make a good lead pastor in his place. Jeff had never thought of himself as a lead pastor. Yet when Carey approached him with the idea, Jeff felt a stirring in his heart. He was excited about the mission of the church, but needed to know what it meant to lead the church. So Jeff spent some time praying about it and whether he might be the one to work in that lead pastor role.
  • The mission has to be bigger than either of us. // One of the things that can ruin a shift like this is the idea of “Well, this is the way I used to do it.” Carey emphasized to the elders that Connexus should not be focused on preserving the past, but in moving forward to the changes that work with the future development of the church. Carey didn’t want Connexus Church to begin and end with him. For a church to be effective, people need to be willing and continue to change.
  • Define your lanes. // In the first year of the shift, the change was through public access and private presence. So for example, in the public, it might not look like things had changed because Carey was there. But privately Carey took time away from staff and leadership meetings. That allowed all eyes to shift to Jeff among the staff. Later the shift was more visible publicly as Jeff began to step into Carey’s lead pastor role in the larger church community.
  • Spend time outside of the church. // Carey and Jeff try to spend time with each other and on the phone together when it doesn’t focus on the church. They realized that the better they are with each other relationally, the better they are organizationally. Cracks between Carey and Jeff can cause cracks within the church as the staff sees these problems between them.

You can learn more about Connexus at www.connexuschurch.com and more at about the Canadian Church Leaders Conference here.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.