Navigating New Horizons at Converge MSC

Discover more about the promising future of Converge MSC in our latest article featuring Gary Rohrmayer’s upcoming retirement and his successor, Danny Parmelee. Read all about the details of the transition and explore what lies ahead as Gary and Danny share their insights and experiences.

Gary Rohrmayer's Interview

Can you recount a moment in your career when you felt the weight of a decision that deeply impacted your life and the lives of those around you? How did you navigate through this challenging time, and what role did prayer and discernment play in your decision-making process?

Yes, it was over 25 years ago when we left the church we started and pastored for 10 years. Standing in front of the congregation and asking them to send us out as missionaries was one of the most difficult decisions we ever made. I remember the moment my wife Mary and I joined our trembling hands together praying God would be honored by this step of faith and protect our church and our family, and grant us success in this decision. That was bathed in prayer, fasting, and wise counsel by those outside the circle of being personally affected by the decision. As we decided to step down and turn the leadership over to a successor we entered the same process with the same fear and trembling.

Reflecting on your journey, what lessons have you learned about the importance of leadership transitions and succession planning? How do you approach these transitions with empathy and understanding, ensuring that both the organization and individuals involved feel supported and valued?

Key words to understand, embrace, and apply during leadership transition and succession planning: Integrity, Clarity, Consistency, and Simplicity.

Integrity: The leader needs to know in his heart is ready to move on and let go of the position. Spirituality meaning God has released him from this call and has given him another assignment. For me, it was a clear draw to focus my energies on my coaching and consulting ministry. I also needed to be financially, relationally, and emotionally ready to step away. Doing a self-appraisal in these areas was very helpful. What I like to say to leaders is, “If you can’t let go then don’t go!” The moment I asked Danny to be my successor, I knew I had to be 100% ready because it would be carelessly evil to say I changed my mind after asking him and getting his hopes up for the position.

Clarity: Outlining a clear timetable and process.

Succession Steps Outline

      1. Invite a Successor to Pray – Spring 2022
      2. Inform Board Chair – Summer 2022
      3. Inform Board – Fall 2022
      4. Board begins one-year vetting process – Winter-Fall 2023
      5. Board Nominates Candidate to Conference
      6. Delegates – Fall of 2023
      7. Candidate and President Succession Tour Together – Winter 2023 to Fall 2024
      8. VP First Sabbatical – May-July 2024
      9. Candidate Voted on at Triennial Meeting – Vote at Triennial Meeting Fall of 2024
      10. President Coached/Mentored by outgoing President – Fall 2024 to 2025

Consistency: Working on the plan and checking in with the key players at key moments. Every month Danny would check in during our normal one-on-one staff time. I check in with our chairman Jeff Forester to review where we were at in the plan and the process as well. At every Executive Board Meeting, we would review with them how we were executing each phase of the plan to make sure everything was going as planned and that we were not missing anything.

Simplicity: Succession Plans get messy when people get messy. I am amazed at how many people feel that there are hidden agendas, untold stories, or how stories get made up and embellished by others. Simplicity rests in the integrity of the leader’s character, the board’s confidence in that leader, and the nominees’ trust in the leader’s character. I am so glad this process has been steeped in simplicity because when people ask me tough questions I can say with confidence that this whole process was initiated by me two years ago through the prompting of the Holy Spirit and is being confirmed every step of the way by submitting to the process our region has set up to make decisions like this one.

Could you share a personal anecdote about a time when you found yourself navigating through a period of significant change or transition within Converge MSC? How did you manage any uncertainty or apprehension among team members, and what strategies did you use to foster a sense of unity and purpose during this time?

When there was a vacancy in the National Office for the Presidency of Converge in 2014, many thought that I should apply for the position but after much prayer Mary and I decided that it was not a direction we desired to go at the time, instead, we decided to endorse Scott Ridout for the position so I wrote an endorsement letter and had the entire staff proofread it so they would realize that I was not eager to apply to the position and squash any talk to the contrary. It seemed to help us keep focused on the task at hand as we were experiencing historic growth at that time.

As you reflect on your leadership journey, can you share a moment when you felt the power of open communication and transparency in fostering a sense of community and belonging within Converge MSC? How do you prioritize building meaningful connections and relationships, especially during times of transition?

Every one of the Succession Tour Meetings has been very meaningful to me as I have seen more and more pastors and leaders make an emotional connection with Danny as the next leader of Converge MSC. Whether it is in Haiti, throughout Florida, Chicagoland, Detroit, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. It thrills my heart to hear pastors and leaders praying with passion for Danny and his family as they seek God’s confirmation for this next appointment and assignment for ministry at our Connect Conference in October 2024. I feel nothing but a good sense of pride that the Holy Spirit is confirming what I have seen in Danny all along.

Danny Parmelee's Interview

Can you describe a pivotal moment in your journey with Converge, from your introduction to the organization as a college student to your current role as Vice President of Converge MidAmerica?

My introduction to Converge began in my freshman year of college when I attended a church that was part of Converge. The initial turning point came when the church’s pastor recognized my innate talents, suggesting they suited me well for church planting. This recognition not only validated my sensed calling to ministry but also clarified my path towards church planting.

Another defining moment was my decision to attend Bethel Seminary. Among several options, Bethel stood out and ultimately reinforced my connection with Converge, given its affiliation with the seminary. Upon graduating, Converge became my partner in church planting. This collaboration was a natural progression of my existing relationships within Converge, and their support was instrumental in realizing my vision to establish a church in Milwaukee, WI.

How has your experience as a church planter shaped your approach to leadership and ministry within Converge, particularly in your role of recruiting and training church planters?

My journey through the entire process of church planting has equipped me with a great understanding of its complexities and nuances. The hands-on experience I gained, applying the principles and tactics passed down to me, has enabled me to coach others and passed down what I learned. Being candid, this journey has also allowed me to guide new church planters in sidestepping some of the significant errors I encountered.

Moreover, founding epikos church has afforded me unique insights into managing churches of various sizes. I can relate with the small church planter who dreams big with just 25 members, navigate the challenges of a mid-sized church with a few hundred attendees and limited resources, and understand the dynamics of a large church with a substantial staff and budget. Although I’ve primarily served as the lead pastor of just one church, my experience spans across churches of multiple sizes, enriching my perspective and approach to church leadership not just church planting.

What led you to make the transition from leading Epikos Church to serving as Vice President of Converge MidAmerica, and how has this transition impacted your perspective on ministry and leadership?

People ask me this question all of the time. It was not an easy decision to make, to leave something that you’ve started and poured your life into. However, several factors provided me with comfort in making this transition. Foremost among these was the healthy state of epikos church. Our team consisted of highly capable staff, leaders, and a small army of volunteers. Notably, we had established a strong teaching team capable of sharing responsibilities, which is crucial.

Often, a church faces challenges when their lead pastor leaves, primarily if they are accustomed to hearing them preach every Sunday. Our approach, which involved multiple teachers, reassured me that the church would continue to thrive in my absence. Additionally, despite Epikos being in a phase of growth, I felt a led towards taking on a more significant role regionally.

I believed that my leadership skills could better serve a broader community, aiding church planters and pastors in expanding their church plants and churches, rather than focusing solely on the growth of the church I served.

Could you elaborate on your relationship with Gary Rohrmayer and its influence on your ministry journey, particularly in your decision to consider succeeding him as President of Converge MSC?

It’s crazy to think about, but I’ve known Gary for nearly two decades! During my initial phase of church planting, as I navigated through the assessment center and was gearing up for the launch, I was introduced to some pivotal leaders within Converge’s church planting network. Given my plans to plant in Wisconsin, it naturally followed that people suggested I connect with Gary.

At that time, Gary was actively involved with Converge National, in addition to his church planting efforts with Converge MidAmerica. In those formative years, I even participated in Gary’s church planting training sessions in Chicago. Many of the principles and concepts I absorbed then are the same ones I teach to our planters today. Indeed, contexts evolve, but the core fundamentals remain constant.

When I took the VP role in Church Planting, I hadn’t anticipated succeeding Gary. Yet I am profoundly thankful for this opportunity. As the transition nears, my enthusiasm to lead only grows. I am deeply appreciative of the systems and resources Gary has built over the years. Stepping into a role with such a well-laid foundation is exceptionally rare in ministry, and for that, I am immensely grateful.

As you reflect on your tenure with Converge and your potential future as President, how do you envision leveraging your gifts and experiences to further advance the mission and impact of Converge MSC?

During the succession tour, I emphasized my rallying cry to “relentlessly serve our pastors, planters, and churches.” I want this rallying cry to shape all the decisions that the Converge MSC Board and staff team make. As to the gifts and abilities to carry out our mission and vision I’d have to say that I attribute my ability to my leadership and strategic planning skills will be most relied upon.

Following our recent merger, we’ve seen significant growth. To maintain this momentum, it’s crucial to focus on aligning our staff and organizational structure to be effective. Ensuring we have robust systems and a healthy, highly productive team in place is essential for supporting our pastors, planters, and churches in their growth. I also look forward to utilizing technology to bolster how we serve our pastors.

What I mean by this, is that there are so many tools available that can help reduce redundant activities, freeing up more time to spend on leading the movement. Another phrase that I’ve been sharing on the succession tour is “High Tech, High Touch.” Using technology is not meant to replace real human interaction. Instead, tech can be used to free up more time for real relationships.