Looking for a New Preacher with Old Preacher Present

old preacher will be gone in three months

Jerrie, Our present preacher, who has been with us many years, will be resigning in about three weeks. He’s agreed to stay three months after he resigns while we look for a new preacher. Is it time to start searching?

From my perspective, this isn’t the most healthy and helpful thing to be doing during this time. You said your preacher has been with you many years. He has many friends. His resignation will be a shock to most people. People will be sad. They’ll grieve losing their good friend and preacher.

One of the best things you can do for your preacher, the congregation, and the next preacher is to concentrate on saying a good farewell to your present preacher. The church will welcome the new preacher to the extent you have a time of goodbye and appreciation for your present preacher.

A doctor announces to a man and his wife she has three months to live. This isn’t the time for the husband to start dating. This is time for him to care for her, express his love and appreciation to her, to see to her every need and want to make her passing as painless and comfortable as possible.

After she dies, is buried, and he grieves for a sufficient time, it’s appropriate for him to think about seeing an eligible woman to explore the possibility of another marriage. Even though his wife’s death seems imminent, it’s too early to date. His next marriage isn’t as important as finishing his responsibility to his present wife. The happiness of his next marriage will depend on the way he shows his love to his first wife.

Can you imagine a man telling his dying wife in the hospital, “Honey, I’ve got a date with a good looking woman. If you’re still alive when we get finished with our date, we’ll talk some more when I get back.”

This is dynamically what happens when a church starts looking for a preacher while the present preacher is still working. They bring in a preacher or two to interview. People start getting excited about the possibility of getting this good preacher. They discuss which one they like the best. They wonder if he’ll select this church in his next move. They write notes, texts, and emails to tell him how much they hope he will be their next preacher.

They may even get so busy courting the possible new preacher they forget the going-away party for their old preacher.

The best model for parting ways I’ve ever seen:

Five Acts of Dying

  1. Forgive me.
  2. I forgive you.
  3. Thank you.
  4. I love you.
  5. Goodbye.

The gospel is: death, burial, resurrection.

Not: death, resurrection, burial.

What suggestions do you have for planned preacher transitions?

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

2 Responses to “Looking for a New Preacher with Old Preacher Present

  • Mark White
    5 years ago

    Jerrie, a spot-on article. The saddest thing, however, about your article is the need for this to be said in the first place. We do some pretty insensitive, truly dumb things at times and then are amazed by the disaster which comes as a result. Wisdom is sorely lacking about such things. Perhaps the parallel you use will help churches see the folly of our almost universal preacher-hiring mistakes.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      5 years ago


      Thank you for your response.

      One of the most spiritual things we can do is to think. When we think and apply biblical principles, such as Matthew 7:12 and others, we will relate to others differently.