Ashley Wooldridge

Post Pandemic Momentum and Transitions Leadership

About The Episode


“The most challenging leadership task we’ll ever take on is letting go.” On this episode of Leaders In Living Rooms, Ashley Wooldridge, Lead Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix, AZ shares his personal story of the baton handoff with former Lead Pastor, Don Wilson, five years later. Ashley’s unique perspective on transition comes from his time at Intel prior to joining the CCV team. He leans into how differently the secular world does leadership transitions (typically more successfully than the church) and what we can learn from their proven track record. He encourages leaders to approach a transition with a deep sense of knowing what you think can work, but also with humility; and how to do the same in your realignment efforts post-pandemic. Ashley is a wealth of knowledge and his passion for churches getting this right is inspiring. You don’t want to miss it. 

Welcome to Episode 056 of the Leaders in Living Rooms Podcast with Sean Morgan.

Insights From Ashley

Discerning Over Deciding

  • Ashley shares his personal transition story of becoming the Executive Pastor at CCV in 2007, and then being asked to move into the Lead Pastor role 10 years later in 2017. 
  • Ashley had to discern, “Should I be a Senior Pastor in the first place?” The next question was, “Do I want to do it here?” The answer was maybe… but only if the transition would be successful. He had a blueprint of what a successful transition would look like. But he said, “it wasn’t mine to take, it was someone else’s to give. So I read everything, got as much counsel as I could, and did not walk into it with an attitude of this is something I have to take on. I didn’t have to.”

Transition: Intel vs. The Church

  • Transition in the church world vs. the business world – the secular world is far ahead of churches. Internal candidates are 3-4x more successful. If the organization is healthy and things don’t need to change. Intel and HP. 
  • I was taken back by how often a Senior Pastor would transition but stay onboard in another role. In the business world, that almost never happens. You very rarely see a CEO transition and then go into another role in the company. One of the biggest transition decisions becomes, what will the departing pastor do? 
  • When people think of churches, they often connect the Lead Pastor to the church. Which makes the transition more challenging. Because the “product” isn’t the Lead Pastor. 
  • Why are elder boards approving for churches to keep the outgoing leader around when they haven’t seen it be the norm in the business world that most of them are serving in? Fear for the future of the church? Could this leader ever really be replaced? It makes God so little that we think He isn’t capable of raising up the next generation of leaders.

You Haven’t Arrived, Be Prepared for Battle

  • I learned more from the mistakes of other transition leaders than the successes. 
  • Lead through the transition with a deep sense of knowing what you think can work with humility. You have to have this equal balance of humility and faith/confidence to take some risks. 
  • Being full of yourself and being sure of yourself are different things. 
  • A lot of leaders think of a Senior Pastor role as “arrival” – and if that’s your mentality going in, then you’ll do anything it takes to get the mantle. And maybe because of that, you haven’t made the best decisions, and once you’re in the seat, you have to live with those decisions. That’s where humility comes in. Being a Senior Pastor isn’t arrival, it’s a battle. You’re a commander of troops you’re leading into battle.  
  • God might have chosen you now, but he might choose someone else very quickly. Lead with humility.

Overworked or Out of Shape?

  • Assessing and having an accurate view of your staff – where are they at? Where are there alignment issues? I was having a hard time deciding if our staff was overworked or out of shape…
  • Coming out of the pandemic we took a staff that we had sitting on the sidelines and started doing two a days! This creates a discernment requirement from the leader. 
  • Realignment post pandemic. Are we being clear with the direction we want to take? Now is the time to over communicate your strategy, where you’re headed and the culture that you want to create getting there. 
  • This is where we see ourselves in the next 12 months – especially between physical attendance and the online experience. Your staff could be whiplashed by not knowing the priority. 
  • The idea of a 3 year or 5 year plan is not even on the radar given the rapid pace of change we’re all experiencing. We’ll look out ahead as much as we can, but stay moldable and pliable.

Episode Links

Ashley’s recommended reads on transitions: 

If you’re a new lead pastor stepping into a transition, we want you in our Fall 2022 cohort. Visit to learn more.

Who Is Ashley Wooldridge?

Ashley is the Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV), a multi-campus church in Arizona with 12 locations, reaching over 35,000 in weekly attendance. He and his wife Jaime have been married for over 22 years and have three girls that keep them busy and grounded in life. Ashley’s passions are teaching for application, creating a crazy healthy culture, and loving his wife and kids. There may also be an occasional round of golf seeking to break par. Instagram: @ashleywooldridge Church Website: Schooling: He has a BA from Pacific Christian College, an MBA from Keller Graduate School, and studied theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. 

Instagram: @ashleywooldridge

Facebook: @ashleywooldridge


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Quotes From Episode

“The most challenging leadership task we’ll ever take on is letting go.”

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About the Host

Sean Morgan is a coach and speaker with a national reputation as a catalyst of fresh vision. His passion is to help ministries navigate obstacles and turn them into opportunities.

Throughout his career, Sean has pioneered initiatives impacting thousands of leaders across the country. He started out serving as Executive Pastor and CFO at New Life Church in northern California.

As host, Sean gives you access to amazing conversations, hard-won wisdom, and poignant insights from world-class leaders in intimate “living room” settings.

Your Host

Sean Morgan

Leaders in Living Rooms
Craft & Character

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