The death of Zachery Tims left many unanswered questions and as the one-month anniversary of the late pastor’s passing approaches there is speculation on whether New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC) can survive without its leader.
“New Destiny, it’s not just about you any longer. It’s about the nation watching you,” Paula White, whom Tims called his “spiritual mother,” told NDCC in a sermon Aug. 21, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
White, the pastor of Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla., said, “It’s about how you are going to respond, about what you are going to do.”
It was revealed that Tims left instructions for the megachurch in the event of his death.
According to the instructions, the NDCC should mourn for only 30 days – taking that time “to recover.” On the 31st day following his death, the church should resume its work.
In 1996, Tims and his family founded the NDCC in Apopka, Fla., where he served as senior pastor of a congregation of about 8,000 members.
Tims’ death left the New Destiny Church without a head. It was previously reported that NDCC would have a series of guest speakers as church administrators decided on who would take up Tims’ ministry.
There is no word as of yet if any progress was made by NDCC administrators in naming a new senior pastor.
The Christian Post contacted the NDCC and left a message but no church representative responded by press time.
Phil Cooke, a California-based church leadership consultant, told the Orlando Sentinel:
"The single biggest reason most of these megachurches grow so quickly is because the leader is a powerful and compelling personality.”
He added, "In the case of New Destiny, the intense focus on Pastor Tims during his life, and the questions surrounding his death, all indicate that finding a successor during a time of questions and uncertainty will be extraordinarily difficult."
There is speculation that it could take NDCC at least a year, if not longer, to choose a new pastor because it probably never anticipated the need to do so.
"There was literally one pastor. For a congregation that size, that is very unusual," said Sheila Strobel Smith, an author and expert on leadership transition in megachurches, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
According to Smith, congregations usually are not able to return to where they were before such a tragedy as this.
The question most would like an answer to – what is the next move for New Destiny and can the congregation thrive without Zachery Tims?
Tims, 42, was found dead in his W Hotel bedroom in New York City on Friday, Aug. 12. The cause of his death has yet to be determined.