Pastor Gillett Doggett Testimony

Pastor Gillett Doggett Testimony

Photo Illustration by Steve Marquez

Preparing for the End of a Ministry: A Retired Calvary Chapel Pastor Speaks Up

Story by Pastor Gillett Doggett

Gillett DoggettGillett Doggett, now retired, has formerly pastored two Calvary Chapels in California: CC Rialto and CC of the Sierra. He now serves in Poimen Ministries, which ministers to senior or lead pastors, strengthening them so that the churches they serve will also be strengthened and encouraged. You can contact Poimen at

My story of becoming a pastor is one that seems like a fluke, but it was God’s work, and one I couldn’t have imagined. And through the gracious move of God’s mercy, He took me through some amazing lessons, many of which I learned through my own bumbling along. But maybe my stumbling along with this perspective will be helpful to pastors and/or boards who haven’t given much thought to some important issues of the ministry.

In the next issue of Calvary Chapel Magazine, Jerel Hagerman, senior pastor of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel in Yucca Valley, CA, will describe the need for CC pastors to start seriously training up their replacements; he even gave up his Sunday night and Wednesday night services to his assistant. He also advises letting that assistant take over as pastor of those two nights (not getting jealous if it starts growing past where it was before handing it over).

(This article sponsored by Pritchard Websites and Calvary Web. Click here to read more.)

In this article, I’ll cover my experiences in a couple of areas: pastoral transitioning and caring for one’s family.

Ready to Step Down

What happens when a pastor needs to step down from his ministry, or knows it is time for new church leadership?

Ideally, the church has a transition plan in place. In my case, in both churches I pastored, the assistant pastor was able to take over.

But what if the assistant pastor, if there is one, hasn’t been called to be the lead/senior pastor? When there is no transition plan in place, the church needs help. A church in transition needs stability and Holy Spirit-directed leadership to oversee the ministries and outreaches of the church and help to identify and call their next pastor.

Once the transition process has taken place, it’s important that the departing pastor not try to “pastor” the new pastor. In my first experience, I was moving to transplant another church, leaving Southern California for central California. It was a situation where a Calvary Chapel had closed its ministry, and Pastor Chuck Smith had encouraged me to go restart it.

In the second experience, I was getting ready to “retire” into another ministry, and my assistant pastor took over. We weren’t moving, and no other CC was near enough to attend, so my wife Victoria and I took a month-long trip up into Canada and around the United States, visiting and speaking at churches on the way. This was to give the new pastor the opportunity to be the pastor. When we returned, we spent another month visiting and speaking at local non-CC churches. When we finally started reattending Calvary Chapel of the Sierra in North Fork, CA, I took no responsibilities until asked to head up the ushering ministry.

If your church doesn’t have a transitional team, Poimen Ministries has provided a TSP (Transitional Senior Pastor) for a number of churches. And each transition has been successful.

Taking Care of Your Family

As important as it is to have a transitional plan in place, another area of ministry is extremely important: having a plan to provide for your family if you should unexpectedly be taken home to be with God.

When I was a young husband and a father of two small children, I didn’t think seriously of the needs my family would have should I be taken home to be with the Lord. After all, we are told the Lord will always provide. I think this gave me the excuse to avoid thinking of what would happen to my family if I were no longer here.

You may be one of those pastors who has rationalized why this isn’t an important area of ministry, justifying by the following: 1) the Rapture is coming soon [and it may]; 2) God will take care of them; 3) I’m young, so we’ll deal with it later; 4) We have more important “spiritual” matters to deal with [forgetting that 1 Timothy 5:8 says it is spiritual].

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

As a young husband and father, I worked hard to provide my family with a home, clothing, food, and other necessities; but one day, I realized that providing for them extends beyond my final breath.

• What would their life look like if I’m no longer here?
• How will they pay the mortgage?
• How will they have money for daily expenses?
• Will our church help them?
• For how long?

I certainly didn’t want to be, in the eyes of the Lord, “worse than an unbeliever.” As tight as finances were, I knew I needed to do something to provide for my family’s future. Life insurance was the first step that would provide the monetary resources my family would need. However, years later, I had other concerns about providing for my household, especially my wife. If I died, what care would my wife receive from the church? If she’s actively involved in a leadership role, say with women’s ministry, what transitional process will take place when the new pastor and his wife come in?

There is no “one-answer-fits-all” solution. Your wife may not be in a leadership role, but regardless of her role, I would not want my grieving wife, who has been so involved and serving alongside me, feeling, Now what?

Get with your board and create a clear transitional process to help your wife grieve and avoid feeling like she’s in competition with someone new.

During your tenure as a pastor, such a process may never be needed. Like car insurance, you may never use it, but should the need arise, it’s good to know it’s there.

Poimen Ministries works with a partner ministry, Pastors Legacy Plan, which also provides counsel in this area. Their web address is I encourage you to visit Pastors Legacy Plan as the first step in creating the legacy you desire, assuring that you are providing as the Lord expects.


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

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