Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

The challenge of pastoral succession in African independent Pentecostal churches

Mangaliso M. Matshobane, Maake Masango
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 2 | a6265 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i2.6265 | © 2020 Mangaliso M. Matshobane, Maake Masango | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 July 2020 | Published: 08 December 2020

About the author(s)

Mangaliso M. Matshobane, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Maake Masango, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Succession is particularly a challenge in African independent Pentecostal churches (AIPCs), because unlike traditional churches, they do not have a rotation system, which transfers ministers from one congregation to the next after a specified period. AIPCs refer to churches that are led by Africans, for Africans, in Africa. Pastors in AIPCs are mostly founders or long-term serving pastors. The only time they will be succeeded is when they retire, die or are removed because of a moral failure or incompetence. Succession by death is most prominent in independent churches, especially in the case of founders. Most founders in AIPCs do not retire even if they fall sick or fall into moral sin; they remain at the helm of the church until their last breath. This makes succession difficult especially after the death of the founder or long-term serving pastor, as a result, succession becomes contentious and ends up tarnishing the image of the congregation when not properly managed. The aim of this article is to highlight the challenges of succession in AIPCs and make recommendations that can help them find solutions to these challenges. Most African independent churches (AICs) in the South African context fall within a category of churches that Anderson calls ‘African initiated Churches (AICs)’ and the ‘Newer Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches (NPCs)’. This article will be focusing on those AICs who are Pentecostal in nature, including NPCs. An interpretive pastoral care methodology of describing, interpreting, normative formation and practical application is proposed for this article.

Contribution: This article’s contribution is to propose to African independent Pentecostal churches (AIPCs) a pastoral succession model that will enhance a smooth transition from a predecessor to a successor. The model will also benefit other church groups in their pastoral successions, particularly when using the proposed pastoral care approach for practical ministry.


Succession; Founder; Long-term serving pastor; Principal leader; Predecessor; Successor; Congregation; African independent Pentecostal churches


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Crossref Citations

1. Battling with the baton: (Dis)connecting today and tomorrow’s leaders in African Pentecostalism
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