Pastor, Have You Written Your Church a Will?

The Gospel Coalition | 7/16/2019 | Steve DeWitt
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Around a year ago it dawned on me that while I’ve put extensive effort into preparing legal documents for my wife and kids in the event of my death, I’ve done virtually nothing to prepare my church family for that contingency.

I’ve had the privilege of serving the same church for 22 years, and it represents my best efforts during the most vibrant years of my life. I’ve also had friends die unexpectedly—and there’s always the possibility that this would be God’s will for me.

Health - Death - Leaders - Anything - Pastor

What would happen if I was suddenly unable to pastor because of health or death? Are church leaders obligated to anything I’d write in a will? Not at all. Yet am I a responsible pastor if I don’t provide some care and guidance for what could be a confusing and difficult transition in our church?

I see the great leaders and shepherds of the Bible exhorting their flocks concerning the next chapter without them. Think of the great speeches in Scripture, such as Moses on the edge of the promised land or Joshua after the conquests.

New - Testament - Example - Paul - Elders

A clear New Testament example is Acts 20, where Paul tells the Ephesian elders they won’t ever see him again. He addresses spiritual concerns that will arise after he’s gone, and he exhorts them to remain pure and vigilant. Should God allow, I would treasure the opportunity to give a final address to my people. But while I can’t foresee how my ministry will end, I can begin planning now for the unexpected and inevitable.

So I decided to prepare a document for our elders—my recommendations should I die unexpectedly. I presented it tearfully. If you have prepared a will or trust for your children, you know how sobering such documents can be. Be ready for strong emotions.

Encouragement - Pastors - Leaders

My encouragement is simple: Pastors and leaders,...
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