Mt. Zion Baptist Church is among the largest Black congregation in Madison with more than 500 members. It has served its community for 109 years. Taking up the reins of that congregation would be a daunting task for any pastor considering its legacy. The Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Allen accepted the challenge in 2015 and has thrived as the church’s leader, social justice advocate, listener, entrepreneur and community organizer.

Allen, who studied Divinity at Virginia Union University Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology in Richmond, Virginia, was licensed to preach in July 1997; ordained in the Baptist church in July 2005; and has been pastoring since January 2011. He served honorably in the United States Army for over 10 years and completed three combat tours before becoming the leader he is today. The Clarksdale, Mississippi native has a tremendous desire for God’s word coupled with a love for God’s people. His contagious spirit of generosity flows through every facet of his ministry. He is passionate about leading God’s people and serving God faithfully.

Allen has now added author to his already impressive repertoire. His new book “I Got Next” has just been released. UMOJA asked Allen to tell us more about it.

Dr. Allen, could you please tell us what the book is about?

When a pastor has served at one church for a long time, they are considered “legends.” They are held in high regard for having conducted marriage ceremonies, presided over funerals, and led congregants through their most difficult moments.

But when a new pastor is called to serve, they are often met with skepticism or unfair expectations. Many times, they find congregants who are unwilling to be challenged or changed.

I drew on questionnaires of African American Baptist congregations and interviews with 10 pastors called to lead churches in this guide for new pastor’s intent on making a difference. Learn how to:

  • navigate the transition process in a smooth fashion;
  • energize and encourage congregations to move to the next level;
  • help the church regain confidence and overcome the challenges of transition;
  • lead congregants in mourning a former leader who has died or been called to serve elsewhere.

Each pastoral call comes with various transitional challenges, and it’s important to be ready for whatever is ahead.

The lessons in this book can be applied to any transition in life. Especially, since we are in the middle of a pandemic that has required our regular lives to be adjusted. Any leader who is being promoted, anyone who is getting a new job or starting a business can use these principles to be successful through a transition

Where did the title come from?

I love basketball. If you go where there is a game going on, to get on the basketball court you must shout out “I Got Next.” This informs everyone that you are ready to play when the current game is over. Anyone who is transitioning in any form can shout with confidence “I Got Next!” It’s a declaration that says I am ready for the next transition in my life.

What inspired you to write the book?

While in seminary I witnessed many of my classmates accept the call to pastor a church but soon they were  resigning or being voted out of the church. I wanted to provide a resource that will help pastors transition with a limited amount of loss.

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

I want readers to take away that any transition can be messy and difficult. I want readers to know that transition requires a strategic plan, persistence and patience. It may be a challenging process but with the proper approach, you can complete the task effectively.

What will readers learn about you that they may not have known before?

Well, I am a pretty open book, so there may not be many surprises about me. This speaks about my first church where I was the pastor. I tell of the many mistakes I made while leading them and was able to apply the lessons learned to help me with my transition as the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

Are you working on another book?

I am not currently working on a new book, but I plan to do one on succession plans. This book focuses on the next leader, so I want to write a book about the outgoing leader. I think it’s important to have a plan going in and going out.