Church Leadership Transitions: How to Do it Right

Pastor Benny Perez
Pastor Benny Perez

Recently, Pastor Phil Munsey stepped down from his role leading Life Church in Orange County, Calif., to take new responsibilities leading the Champion’s Network, a national network of churches and leaders founded by Pastor Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church in Houston.

But while many church leadership transitions are poorly managed, and ultimately do enormous damage to the local body of believers, the transition to new pastor, Benny Perez, was not only smooth, but the church began growing immediately. Benny is a pastor, author, and speaker who ministers both locally in Nevada and now California as the Lead Pastor of The Church LV and The Church OC.

In 2003, Benny, together with his wife, Wendy, started The Church LV, in Las Vegas, which has grown rapidly from just 27 people to well over 3,000. Charisma News recently sat down to ask Pastor Benny Perez about the transition, and lessons other leaders could learn.

Charisma News: You’ve been through a challenging few years economically in Las Vegas.  Why did you decide to reach out and expand to this opportunity with Phil Munsey and Life Church in Orange County, Calif.?

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Benny Perez: I have had the vision for Orange County in my heart for years. I am from the area and believed God would give me an opportunity to reach out to where I am from. So when the opportunity came to take Phil Munsey’s church and continue his legacy in reaching Orange County I stepped out in faith and added the campus to our ministry.

Charisma News:  What’s the secret of churches making a successful transition from one pastor to another?

Benny Perez: I have learned that one of the things is to honor what God has done and move the people forward into the next phase God has for them. We are building on the foundation that has been laid by Phil and Jeanne. I believe when you honor the past, God blesses the future.

Charisma News:  Is it more difficult in this situation, since you’ll still be pastor at The Church at South Las Vegas?

Benny Perez: It is definitely a new journey for Wendy and I along with The Church LV. However we have raised up great leaders that will be spearheading the new campus in Orange County. We have been making strategic leadership shifts before this happened in preparation for the new multi-site location.

Charisma News:  What are the greatest similarities between these two churches and the biggest differences?  In other words, do church cultures matter?

Benny Perez: Both churches have a bent towards worship and being Presence Driven. We both want people to encounter the Presence of God in a tangible way. The biggest difference is that the Orange County church is an older church. Not very many  youth, young adults and children. Also their structure and systems are different than the way we do church in Las Vegas. Changing culture takes time and must be done intentional with the right spirit. Culture is always more important than vision. Culture trumps vision every time.

Charisma News:  What’s former Pastor Phil Munsey planning next?

Benny Perez: Pastor Phil Munsey has moved into working with Pastor Joel Osteen full time with the Champions Network and being a teaching pastor on the Lakewood staff. He will be encouraging and working with pastors and leaders nationwide.

Charisma News:  We’re seeing more and more multi-site churches opening locations in different states.  Is this a good thing?

Benny Perez: I think it is a good thing as long as God has called you to do it. Don’t do it because it seems sexy and new. Believe me, it takes work but as long as you know God called you to do it, He will give you the Grace for it.

Charisma News:  If you had one thing to say about the importance of the local church, what would it be?

Benny Perez: The local church is the hope of the world. I believe that starting new churches is the proven way to see people come to Christ.

Charisma News:  What’s next for Benny Perez?

Benny Perez: Continue to raise up campuses and leaders. I want to empower the next generation to reach the world. I believe we are in a moment when God is going to use us to reach more people in ways we never thought of before.

Pastor Benny Perez’s new book is “BUILT: Seven Principles of Leaders Who Beat the Odds, Escape Average, And Make a Lasting Impact. Find out more at

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