The senior pastor of Ron Flores’ church, Meadows Fellowship (Las Vegas 6 Foursquare Church) in Las Vegas, is his son, Ronnie Flores. But that wasn’t always the case—it used to be the other way around. Ronnie’s senior pastor used to be his father, Ron.
In 2010, at the age of 59, Ron, then the senior pastor, made two observations. First, he acknowledged the fact that he couldn’t serve as senior pastor indefinitely. Second, he recognized a definite call and anointing on Ronnie’s life to pastor. Many people from the congregation were seeing it, too.
We spoke with Ron Flores and Ronnie Flores, and asked them to share about how they made an effective and healthy transition of leadership at their church.
What were the key components that made the transition of leadership successful?
Ron: The two keys to preparing and navigating a transition out of leadership were a counting of the cost and a willingness to pay the price. I asked myself questions like: “What’s it going to cost for me to transition? What are the pains, the hurts, the questions I will experience?” The answers to these questions were key to making the transition for me possible. It’s an emotional process, and I carefully weighed the costs and subsequently paid the price. The price, in my mind, was whatever it took to get Ronnie prepared, and to have humility and a willingness to put things down.
Ronnie: I had respected my dad as an effective and successful leader, and I knew there would be challenges; but in the core of my being, I knew my parents had my best interests in mind, wanted me to succeed, and were willing to do whatever they could do to help me do that. My dad’s humility was one of the most significant contributors to our transition being a success. There were two important and necessary things I had to do: I took an honest assessment of my own personal ambitions about going into ministry, and after getting clear about my motivations to lead, I determined in my heart to shepherd well. Pastors don’t take a church, they receive a church, and the way we receive makes a big difference to the success of the transition.
How did you keep nepotism in check and make it clear Ronnie was the right choice for this season in the church and not just the heir apparent?
Ron: Opinions and promptings can be argued, but results are hard to deny. So, at every opportunity, I gave my son the pulpit. This happened for a couple of years prior to even mentioning a transition at our church. The results and responses to his preaching were hard to argue. God’s hand and anointing were upon his ministry. Did everybody agree with the pastoral transition when it was finally announced? No. But the few who left were able to leave peacefully, and the congregation that remained reaffirmed for us the unwinnable argument of nepotism.
“Pastors don’t take a church, they receive a church, and the way we receive makes a big difference to the success of the transition.” —Ronnie Flores
How and when did you get your district supervisor involved in this transition?
Ron: Transitions even among family members require thoughtful preparation, navigation and implementation. I reached out to our district supervisor immediately once I sensed the possibility that it was time I transition out. The discussion was not, “I want my son to take my church.” It was: “I’m praying about my son and I eventually transitioning. Would you join us in prayer about this?” I was determined to have my supervisor and Foursquare make the final decision.
I think the idea of a healthy pastoral transition really begins when one starts with an honest desire to hear the voice of God and the input of spiritual leadership, and not just what one assumes should happen. Thankfully, it was a transition that was not done alone. All of the necessary components to a healthy transition were there: the support and blessing of our church and district, a clear sense of the call and anointing on Ronnie’s life, and the responsibilities both Ronnie and I took in doing our part both for ourselves and each other.
Watch an interview with Ron Flores + Ronnie Flores about their transition.