It has been more than 30 days since the death and funeral of Dr. Zachery Tims, 42, who died in a hotel room in New York on August 12, 2011.
People in churches in Richmond, Virginia are still talking about the sudden death of the megachurch pastor. To this day, there still has not been an official report about the cause of his death.
Also to this day, there has been no concrete news about what will happen to the 8,000 New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida that he and his then wife, Riva Tims started in 1996.
According to an article, Tims left behind instructions for the church after his death. What were these instructions?
Zachery Tim’s Instructions
In case of his death, Tims left instructions that the church “should take 30 days to recover.” On the 31st day after his death, he wanted the church to resume its work. Tims probably gave these instructions based on Deuteronony 34:8 when the mourning period for Moses was 30 days, and after that time they were to get up and Joshua was named to lead the people across the Jordan into the promised land. Tims’ instructions were lacking one thing. No leader was named to lead the people.
Phil Smith, a California-based church-leadership consultant, says that many of the mega-churches have become too synonymous with one man for the church to survive after his death.
The article goes on to say that it will take more than 30 days and perhaps 5 to 7 years for the church to find a leader to fill the position of senior pastor. Here’s why.
- The followers were there because of Tims and his personality. It has been reported that people have already begun to leave the church because they were not there for the church. There were there for Tims, the charismatic preacher. And when someone else steps in to continue the work of ministry at New Destiny, that person will bring in his or her own followers and more of the people who are already there will leave.
- Tims had no successor. There was no one already in place to just step in and fill the position. Tims had no associate pastor or assistant pastor. While there are several associate ministers, none of them have been considered as a replacement.
The problem with many of these mega-churches is that the charismatic preacher comes first, and the church is built around him, such as in Tims’ case. He was the only pastor in the New Destiny Church, so there was no line of succession when he died.
Advice for Church Leaders
Tims’ death should be a wakeup call for church leaders who think church should be a one-man show. If they really love and care for the flock they shepherd, they would provide for them “after his death.”
It is unfortunate that New Destiny, like a lot of the megachurches, was based on the charismatic personality of one leader. A church should not be built around one person.
It will be interesting to see how New Destiny proceeds and how long it will take to actually replace Zachery Tims, or if this is even possible.